Get Longer Battery Life From Your New Laptop: Everything You Need To Know

Tired of your laptop running flat in the middle of class or an important meeting? Time to shape up and manage your portable power better. These tips will get you started.

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Today's tips are all about getting great battery life out of any laptop. Next week we'll run you through the best laptops you can buy for the longest battery life.


Power Saving Mode

Let's get the obvious one out of the way first: your Windows machine comes with a pre-programmed power saving mode which automatically cuts down on basic stuff like screen brightness and maximum processing power and screen dimming timers. Use it to save power, fast.

Advanced Power Saving Options

Alternatively, if you find the built-in power saving mode a bit basic, you can always create your own. By making a power plan you can toggle between different performance modes in an instant rather than having to tweak the settings like brightness and cooling manually.

The Advanced Power Options dialogue in Windows allows you to change a swathe of options for cutting down on power. It's almost infinitely customisable, so you can kill exactly what you want to in order to save power, while also prioritising the things you need.

The advanced options allow you to change everything from hard disk settings through to desktop background settings, Sleep settings, USB and PCI settings as well as processor power management settings. It's the ultimate tool for keeping your power consumption down.

Obviously this will dramatically change the way your PC runs, so make sure to experiment with a few different options to balance performance with power saving. There's no point economising on battery to the point that you can't use your shiny new machine to its full potential.


Brightness

Bright screens kill batteries. It's just that simple. Turn down your display to maximise life.

It's also worth going into your Display settings dialogue and configuring up a time-out option for your displays. Making it dim or shut off after a minute or two of inactivity means you'll save minutes of power here and there.

It doesn't sound like much, but it might be just the minutes you need to get that last email sent before your battery dies!

Go Offline

This tip requires you to think a little differently about how you get things done.

Windows 8 includes a nifty toggle for Airplane Mode which instantly kills all the wireless radios that consume your precious power. Things like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are turned off with the Airplane Mode toggle, and while you might not be on a plane all the time, it's a handy tool for saving your power.

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We're all so used to having Wi-Fi on all the time keeping us connected to the 'net, but when you're knee deep in a Word document, rushing to get it fixed before your battery dies your radios are on in the background robbing you of uptime.

By opening just the things you need from a cloud server or your email account and then turning off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi until you need them again, you're saving so much power that can be used elsewhere.


Kill Excess Apps

Windows and Mac OS X have a nasty habit of keeping a lot of applications open in the background, drawing power from your CPU, RAM and battery cells even when they're not in use.

By accessing the Task Manager on Windows 8 or the Force Quit menu on Mac OS X, you can double check if there are any applications open in the background that shouldn't be.

To save power in the long term, check up on the list of applications your laptop opens up on boot. There may be a few "helper" clients in there that chew power unnecessarily.


Don't Go Nuts

This is another one that requires you to change the way you think a little.

When you're running low on fuel in your car, you back off on the accelerator a little bit, switch into a higher gear so as not to force as many revs onto the engine and drive a little more sensibly so you can make it to the next fuel stop.

That's exactly what you should do with your laptop if you're concerned about battery life as well.

By treating battery life as a finite resource that will leave you inconvenienced when it runs out, back off on doing so many things at once when hypermiling.

Don't think you can leave a series of apps open and revving up the processor and not have it cost you precious fuel.


Outsource To Your Phone

The smartphone is the centre of your digital life, and now it's the centre of your battery-saving strategy as well.

Instead of opening up non-essential apps on your laptop like a music player, social networking apps or tabs and a tele-conferencing solution, outsource those tasks to your phone.

Almost every app you use on your laptop for these tasks will have a smartphone equivalent.

Listen to music; browse Facebook; video call a colleague and check your email on your phone rather than on your laptop so you can keep your processor free of unnecessary apps.


Keep Good Battery Habits

After you've bought your new laptop or 2-in-1, the battery is shiny, new and ready to work itself to death to keep you productive. You can help it do that by keeping good battery habits.

For example, letting your laptop lean on its charger for an extended amount of time shortens the overall life of the battery. By cycling the power every few hours only charging the battery when it actually needs to be re-juiced is a way to make sure that your battery is going to survive in the long term.

It's also good to regularly turn off your machine, rather than leaving it asleep and plugged into a charger. It saves power, cycles the battery and keeps it from relying on a charger in future.

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What are your favourite power saving tips? Tell us in the comments!

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