If you have a Surface, you’ve undoubtedly wondered if there is something you can do to stretch the battery life a little bit. Maybe you want it to turn off instead of hibernate when you press the power button or, maybe, you want the screen to turn off after just a minute of inactivity when on battery.
Alternatively, what if you don’t care about power consumption and want to squeeze the maximum performance out of your Surface?
Well, you can do those things by adjusting your Windows 10 Power settings and, it’s easier than you think…
Windows 10 Power Settings: Access Basic Power Options
The first thing you’ll need to do is access the power settings. The easiest way to do that is to simply tap and hold (right-click) the battery icon in the system tray then select Power Options from the menu that appears. Alternatively, you can search for power options or browse through the system settings to get there but the method above is the easiest.
Once there, you’ll notice that the right side of the screen is labeled Choose or customize a power plan with a single (Balanced) power plan listed (by default). You’ll also notice several options along the left side of the screen such as Choose what the power buttons do and Choose what closing the lid does. Here’s a quick rundown of what all of these settings do…
- Choose or customize a power plan: This section lets you choose a power plan to use. You can also select the Change plan settings option next to a power plan to control when the computer screen will turn off and when it will go to sleep.
- Require a password on wakeup: This option simply controls whether or not your Surface will require you to enter a password or PIN after it wakes up from sleep.
- Choose what the power buttons do: This option lets you set what pressing the power button (since there is only one) does. Basically, you can have it do nothing, sleep, hibernate, or shutdown the device.
- Choose what closing the lid does: Basically the same as the power button settings.
- Create a power plan: This lets you create additional power plans.
- Change when the computer goes to sleep: This is the same as the Change plan settings option for a power plan.
Not all of these options take you to separate places. For example, both the Require a password on wakeup and the Choose what the power buttons do options take you to the same screen (as seen below).
Most of the individual options are easily changeable via a pulldown list and do not require a restart before taking effect. Now that you have a basic understanding of the options available to you, let’s talk about power plans.
Windows 10 Power Settings: What is a Power Plan?
A power plan is, basically, an easily swappable set of options that define how your Surface’s power settings are configured.
In the past, Windows offered three power plans by default (Power Saver, Balanced, High Performance) but, with Windows 10, only the Balanced option is available by default. This isn’t a big deal since very few people actually change power plans (depending on what they’re doing with the computer). Most just set one plan the way they like and leave it, pretty much, forever.
Windows 10 Power Settings: Modify an Existing Power Plan
If you want to modify the settings on the default power plan(s), simply tap on Change Plan Settings for the plan. When you do, you’ll get a window similar to the one below:
In addition to the basic settings that modify things (like when to turn off the display on battery or put the Surface to sleep when plugged in), you can also adjust some more advanced settings (like when to turn off the computer due to low battery and screen brightness) by selecting the Change advanced power settings option. Though, most of these settings, can also be accessed via the settings on the main power options page.
To do this, just tap on the Change Advanced Power Settings link from the Change power plan screen. You’ll get a window that looks like the one below.
Here, simply, set the advanced options the way you want and tap OK. Don’t worry about messing anything up, if you try something and it doesn’t work well, you can just tap the Restore Plan Defaults button to reset everything back to where it started.
Windows 10 Power Settings: Create a Power Plan
If so inclined, you can tap Create a Power Plan (on the left side of the window) to create your own power plan(s) without modifying the existing plan(s). It will ask you which existing plan on which to base your new plan.
After you name your new plan and tap Next, you’ll get the opportunity to customize the basic settings (just like the edit a power plan section). Once you create a new plan, it will appear in the power plan list and you can choose it like the others.
Windows 10 Power Settings: Access All Power Options (Disable Connected Standby)
If you’ve used Windows for a long time, you may have noticed that the list of power options seems to be very limited and many options that were available in previous versions of Windows are missing. This is because of a feature called Connected Standby which is enabled by default. Essentially, Connected Standby tries to manage your power for you.
And, since it’s managing your power, it also limits what power settings are available for you to manually adjust under the Advanced Options area.
Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to turn off Connected Standby in Windows 10. All you have to do is start Regedit and browse to the following registry key:
Once there, change the value of the CSEnabled key from 1 to 0 and restart your Surface. Once you do, you’ll see that the main Power Options screen will have three default power options (Balanced, Power saver, Performance) similar to earlier versions of Windows.
In addition, the Advanced Options section will offer many more settings such as the ability to adjust WiFi/CPU power settings and multimedia power settings.
While the number of options may look intimidating, you can play with them without worrying about messing up your Surface as (almost) none of the settings can prevent your Surface from working. The one exception to this is the Maximum Processor State setting. If you set that to anything under about 50%, you might have a bad time. So, just don’t touch it!
Some of the other settings may impact network performance (Wireless adapter settings) or graphics performance (Intel(R) Graphics Settings); so, you should only change those if you have a good idea what you’re doing. Other than that, just remember that you can set the plan back the defaults by hitting the Restore plan defaults button if things aren’t working the way you want.
I hope you found this post helpful in figuring out how to configure the power settings on your Surface. Now you should be able to tweak them to get the perfect balance of performance and battery life.
Tim Rolston is a professional geek with over 23 years of experience working in Information Technology and dealing with everything from large-scale storage to remote systems management and automation for organizations such as Texas Instruments, Mobil Oil, and the University of Michigan (where he was an Academic IT Director).
He co-founded JTRTech along with Joanna to realize his long-time dream of working for himself.