In the Forums...
Posted: September 8, 2003
Written By: Dan "Tweak Monkey" Kennedy
Power Schemes and Other Helpful Programs
With Windows XP, you can create multiple "Power schemes" (right click the battery icon in the system tray when unplugged) or edit current schemes in order to obtain the best battery life. The obvious benefit to this is that you can have a scheme for maximum battery life, one for watching DVDs unplugged, one for gaming, etc.
My settings for "Max Battery" are: Turn off monitor after 1 minute, hard disks after 3 minutes, standby after 10 minutes, and hibernate after 20 minutes. These settings might sound excessive, but my notebook lasts about three and a half hours like this, where most reviews only saw around two and a half to three with the same unit.
Note that on Standby, a notebook will use very little power and probably last several times longer than normal mode. Hibernate basically lasts forever though, as it will write a footprint of the current memory, programs, etc. to the hard drive then shut the notebook down entirely. This is ideal if you're not in a huge hurry and you're planning to go without using the notebook for 20+ minutes at a time.
More Power Saving Techniques
Most notebooks with mobile CPUs will include a program to adjust the clock speed of the CPU to save power while you're on the go. Take advantage of such utilities and be sure to drop the speed way down when you don't need it -- you don't need 2 GHz to play Spider Solitaire or write a Word Document. Notebooks that use desktop equivalent CPUs (such as the Pentium 4 CPUs found in the Dell Inspiron 5100) cannot scale the CPU speed but generally include a larger battery to compensate for this.
You should avoid using intensive programs and devices when your notebook is unplugged, especially drives. Both hard disk and optical drives will cause your notebook to waste a ton of power. Don't burn CDs, watch DVDs, and run 3D games or other memory intensive applications unless you really require them or you have a place to plug-in. Along the same lines, it might be a good idea to disable any extra programs you don't need to free up memory, as this can reduce disk access. There are plenty of guides on our site (such as the XP Refresh Guide) that cover this topic in detail.