Windows has many “advanced power settings” you can adjust. These options let you choose between performance and battery life, control what Windows does when you have a critical battery level, and tweak what pressing the power button and closing the lid does.

This works on all modern versions of Windows, including Windows 10 and Windows 7.

How to Find Advanced Power Settings

To find these options, head to Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Power Options. Click the “Change Plan Settings” link to the right of the power plan you want to configure. This is separate from Windows 10’s power mode options, for some reason.

Each power plan has its own advanced options configuration, so you can quickly switch between combinations of settings.

Click “Change Advanced Power Settings” to find these options.

RELATED: Should You Use the Balanced, Power Saver, or High Performance Power Plan on Windows?

What All the Advanced Power Settings Do

Different Windows PCs will have different options here, depending on their hardware. For example, a laptop PC with a battery will have separate settings for “On battery” and “Plugged in,” while a desktop PC without a battery will have just a single setting you can change for each option. Some Windows 10 systems use “Modern Standby” and have very few options.

The box at the top of the window lets you quickly select between your system’s power plans so you can adjust all their settings from this window. The power plan you’re currently using is marked “[Active].”

Now, let’s get to those settings.

Hard Disk > Turn Off Hard Disk After: Windows usually turns off your hard disk when your PC is idle, and this lets you control how many minutes before that happens. This is kind of like a sleep mode. Your hard disk is powered off, but your PC will turn it on again as soon as it’s needed. Powering off the hard disk when it’s not used will save power and increase your PC’s battery life. However, powering off the hard disk too aggressively will hurt performance, as it takes a moment to spin back to life.

This option only affects internal physical hard disk drives—you know, the mechanical ones with spinning magnetic platters—and not modern solid-state drives (SSDs). So, depending on your PC, this setting may do nothing at all.

Internet Explorer > JavaScript Timer Frequency: If you never use Internet Explorer, you can ignore this setting. This option lets you select either “Maximum Performance” or “Maximum Power Savings.” The “Maximum Power Savings” option is the default on laptops, and it will slow down JavaScript performance on web pages a bit to increase your laptop’s battery life. But, again, this only affects Internet Explorer. It’s an old option that doesn’t affect modern web browsers.

Desktop Background Settings > Slide Show: Windows lets you set a slideshow as your desktop background. The option here lets you “Pause” the slideshow if you want. For example, a power-saving power plan could pause the slideshow when you’re on battery, and another power plan could enable if when you’re plugged into an outlet.

Wireless Adapter Settings > Power Saving Mode: The 802.11 power save protocol helps your PC’s Wi-Fi radio save power. With this feature, your Wi-Fi radio can go to sleep and tell the wireless access point (router) that it’s doing so. This saves power and increases battery life. The options here let you control how aggressive this is. “Maximum Performance” mode is the default when plugged into power; it disables the power-saving model. “Medium Power Saving” mode is the default when you’re on battery power. You can also select “Low Power Saving” or “Maximum Power Saving” for either.

Microsoft notes that some wireless hotspots don’t support this feature correctly and you may experience problems when connected to them if it’s enabled. So, if you have Wi-Fi problems, you might want to try disabling it. Or, if you need to squeeze more battery life from your laptop, you can try upping this option to Maximum Power Saving. In theory, the Wi-Fi radio going to sleep more often may increase latency and reduce network performance—but you’ll get more battery life.

Sleep > Sleep After: Your PC can automatically go to sleep when you’re not using it, saving power. The PC goes into a low-power state where most of its hardware is shut off, but it can resume almost instantly when you begin using it again.

This option lets you define the number of minutes of inactivity before your PC goes to sleep. For example, you might want your laptop to go to sleep after five minutes of inactivity on battery power. Or, you might want your desktop to never go to sleep automatically.

This is the same option you can configure from Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Power Options > Change When the Computer Sleeps.

Sleep > Allow Hybrid Sleep: Hybrid Sleep is a combination of Sleep and Hibernate. It’s intended for desktop computers, not laptops. With Hybrid Sleep, your desktop PC will save the system state both to your memory (like sleep) and hard disk (like hibernate) whenever it goes to sleep. It will stay in a low-power mode and wake up quickly, and you can resume your work. However, if there’s a power outage, it can restore your system state from the hard disk so that you won’t lose anything.

This option is enabled by default on desktop PCs and disabled by default on laptop PCs. That’s because it would use more power on laptop PCs. Laptop PCs also don’t need this feature as much—if there’s a power outage, the laptop has a battery to keep it going, while the desktop PC will shut down immediately unless it’s connected to an uninterruptible power supply (UPS.)

RELATED: What’s the Difference Between Sleep and Hibernate in Windows?

Sleep > Hibernate After: Your PC can automatically hibernate, saving its system state to disk. Unlike in Sleep mode, Hibernate will use almost no power. It will resume from where you left off once you start it up again. However, it takes longer to restore from Hibernate, and it takes power to save your system state to the hard disk.

This option lets you control after how many minutes of inactivity your PC hibernates. For example, you might have it sleep after five minutes but hibernate after three hours.

Sleep > Allow Wake Timers: Even when your PC goes to sleep, programs on your PC can set “wake timers” that tell it to wake up automatically at a specific time. For example, Windows uses wake timers that tell your PC to wake up at specific times for system updates.

This option lets you control whether wake timers are enabled or disabled on a system-wide basis. If you select “Disable,” not even Windows will be able to wake your PC for updates. There’s also an “Important Wake Timers Only” option on Windows 10. This disables most wake timers but still lets Windows wake your PC up for critical tasks like system updates.

RELATED: How to Prevent Your Computer From Waking Up Accidentally

USB Settings > USB Selective Suspend Setting: Windows can automatically power off connected USB devices to save power when you aren’t using them. This setting can cause problems with some USB devices that can’t resume from suspend properly, so you can disable it if it causes problems with a peripheral.

However, if you disable this and leave USB devices connected, they won’t go into suspend mode, and your PC will use more power. This is particularly important on a laptop with battery power, as this can reduce battery life.

RELATED: How to Stop Windows From Powering Off Your USB Devices

Intel(R) Graphics Settings > Intel(R) Graphics Power Plan: If your PC has Intel graphics, this setting lets you choose the Intel graphics power plan associated with a Windows power plan. As usual, it’s a trade-off between battery life and performance. “Maximum Battery Life,” “Balanced Mode,” and “Maximum Performance” are all available. You can adjust the settings associated with each Intel graphics power plan from within the Intel HD Graphics Control Panel.

Power Buttons and Lid > Lid Close Action: If you’re using a laptop with a lid, this lets you control what happens when you close the lid while the computer is powered on. Available options are Do Nothing, Sleep, Hibernate, and Shut Down.

You’ll also find this option at Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Power Options > Choose What Closing the Lid Does.

Power Buttons and Lid > Power Button Action: This lets you control what happens when you press your computer’s physical Power button. You can select between Do Nothing, Sleep, Hibernate, Shut Down, or Turn Off the Display.

This same option is available at Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Power Options > Choose What the Power Button Does.

Power Buttons and Lid > Sleep Button Action: This lets you control what happens when you press your computer’s physical Sleep button if it has one. This includes Sleep buttons you might have on a PC keyboard. You can choose between Do Nothing, Sleep, Hibernate, and Turn Off the Display.

RELATED: Yes, It’s Okay to Shut Down Your Computer With the Power Button

PCI Express > Link State Power Management: This controls the Active State Power Management protocol, which is used to manage serial-based PCIe devices. When these devices aren’t doing much work, your computer can place them into a low-power state to reduce power consumption. However, they take a moment to wake back up, which can increase latency when communicating with these devices.

With “Off” selected, you will have the least latency, but no power savings. With “Maximum Power Savings” selected, you will have the most latency and the most power savings. “Moderate Power Savings” is a compromise between the two.

Processor Power Management > Minimum Processor State: Windows adjusts your processor’s clock speed to save power when it isn’t being used heavily. This is the lowest your processor will go, and it’s set to 5% by default. That’s a fine number, and we don’t recommend changing it unless you know what you’re doing.

Processor Power Management > System Cooling Policy: This lets you choose your “cooling policy.” With “Active” selected, Windows will increase the fan speed to cool the processor and only reduce the processor’s speed if it can’t cool the processor enough with the fan. This results in higher performance and is a good choice on a desktop PC.

With “Passive” selected, Windows will slow the processor’s speed to cool it down and only turn on the fan if it needs to cool the CPU down further. This results in lower performance but less power usage and longer battery life, so it’s a better option for a laptop PC on battery power.

Processor Power Management > Maximum Processor State: This is the highest speed your processor will go. The default is 100%, which is a good number. You could try decreasing this number, but we’re not sure that would even save power.

For example, if you selected 80%, your PC would have to spend more time in 80% mode to get the same amount of work done it could get in 100% mode before dropping down to its minimum state. This SuperUser answer has a good discussion of the technical considerations here.

Display > Turn Off Display After: Windows can turn off your PC’s display when you aren’t using your PC. This setting controls the number of minutes Windows waits before turning off the display.

This is the same setting you can control from Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Power Options > Choose When to Turn Off the Display.

Multimedia Settings: The multimedia settings here are used when your PC is sharing media with a protocol like DLNA, which is built into Windows. In other words, these settings are used when your computer is acting as a media server. They’re not used when you’re watching videos or playing music on your computer. Most people will never need to touch these options.

Multimedia Settings > When Sharing Media: This option lets you choose what happens when your computer is functioning as a server. You can select “Prevent Idling to Sleep” to stop it from sleeping while you’re streaming from it or select “Allow the Computer to Sleep” if you don’t want people keeping it awake.

Or, you can select “Allow the Computer to Enter Away Mode” instead. Microsoft has explained what Away Mode does.

Multimedia Settings > Video Playback Quality Bias: You can choose whether your computer prefers video quality (at the cost of power and battery life) or power-saving (at the cost of video quality. The two options available here are “Video Playback Performance Bias” and “Video Playback Power-Saving Bias.”

Multimedia Settings > When Playing Video: When playing a video, you can choose whether your computer will “Optimize Video Quality,” “Optimize Power Saving,” or select “Balanced” for a compromise.

We’re not completely sure why this option is separate from Video Playback Quality Bias. But the tooltip says this option controls “the power optimization mode used by your computer’s video playback pipeline.”

RELATED: How to Turn Your Computer Into a DLNA Media Server

Battery > Critical Battery Notification: Windows will show you a notification when your battery reaches a critically low level if this option is set to “On.” If it’s set to “Off,” you won’t receive a notification. By default, it’s on.

Battery > Critical Battery Action: Windows will take action when your battery reaches a critical level to prevent your PC from suddenly dying due to an empty battery, assuming it’s properly calibrated. Available options include Sleep, Hibernate, and Shut Down.

Battery > Low Battery Level: This controls the battery level that Windows considers low. For example, if you set it to 12%, Windows will show you a low battery notification and take the low battery action at 12% battery remaining.

Battery > Critical Battery Level: This controls the battery level that Windows considers critical. For example, if you set it to 7%, Windows will show you a critical battery notification and take the critical battery action at 7% battery remaining.

Battery > Low Battery Notification: Windows normally shows you a notification when its battery reaches the low level. You can set this to “Off” to disable the notification.

Battery > Low Battery Action: Windows can take action when the battery reaches the low level. Available options include Do Nothing, Sleep, Hibernate, and Shut Down.

Battery > Reserve Battery Level: This controls the battery level where Windows enters “reserve power mode.” Microsoft doesn’t provide much information about this mode, but it looks like you’ll be warned to connect your laptop to a power source or at least save your documents when “Reserve Power mode” kicks in.

You can also mouse over many of these settings to find a quick sentence explaining what each does if you need it.

If you want to undo any changes you’ve made to your advanced power options or other power plan settings, return here and click the “Restore Plan Defaults” button to restore the power plan to its default Windows settings.

Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor in Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for nearly a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than 500 million times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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