Is Windows closing on efficiency of the MacOS with its Power Throttling feature?


#1

Is Microsoft closing on the efficiency of the MacOS with its Windows 10? The short answer is yes! The longer answer would be that Microsoft is fully aware of the deficiencies of the current power management system and is working on testing improvements through its insider preview builds.

As the part of the Creators update, Microsoft just added to the insider builds a new power management feature caller Power Throttling. This is a really bad name is it suggests that it will make your computer terribly slow, however that is absolutely NOT in Microsoft’s intention, so it is great that this name is just temporary and only for insiders’ builds at the moment.

So what does this Power Throttling feature do and how does it work? Just a few days ago we’ve discussed within a smaller group the efficiency of Windows power management. I was bummed because I have at my disposal a Macbook Air 13 that has dual boot with latest MacOS and Windows 10 which is a perfect test bed for battery life tests, and so under identical conditions, same applications and tasks I am able to get 7-8h of runtime under MacOS and 3-4h under Windows. So what’s different about Windows and why is it so much less efficient then the competing MacOS? The consensus that we came up with in the discussion was that Windows needs to be more aggressive at managing background tasks and memory use. And even more importantly developers that make applications for Windows need to be aware of the new power management requirements and follow the best practices.

Power Throttling feature is exactly the first crack at what we discussed in the group. It will look at the list of running services and classify certain applications as being background ones. If a background service requests processor time, Windows instead of kicking the processor into a high performance mode will instead keep it in its low power state. But it will still treat the foreground applications and certain classes of important background services as high priority and allow access high performance processor mode when needed.

Power management slider that appears by clicking the battery icon in the system notification area controls Power Throttling feature sensitivity or aggressiveness. Slide it all the way to the left and Windows will try to save as much power as possible. Start sliding it to the right, towards the maximum performance, and eventually Power Throttling will be disabled. Plugging your computer into the wall also disables the Power Throttling function. In future builds, Microsoft intends to provide APIs so that developers can make sure that Power Throttling treats their application and related service appropriately.

So lets address the elephant in the room! Does this Power Throttling feature actually work? Unfortunately I could not test it in my MBA 13 as it predates the required (at the moment) Skylake or Kaby Lake era processor. But I am testing another Acer laptop at the moment (review will follow soon) and I am happy to report that Power Throttling in the most aggressive setting was able to get me consistently about 45-50 min additional run time with all other things remaining equal, bringing the total runtime of the machine closer to 9h vs 8h observed before. Now did the computer feel slow or sluggish? Not at all, at least for the common applications such as browsers, office, music and some photoshop it felt rather the same as in high performance setting.

Overall I am really psyched to see Microsoft actually addressing the power management issues and taking the initiative of moving things forward both for Windows itself as well as its platform developers.


#2

This is fantastic write-up on Window’s 10 latest progression that is coming about on the front of power efficiency. I think a more accurate term that could be used to describe the power throttling is adaptive or dynamic, power-based app prioritization. To make it clear to a normal end user, though, I think the name does a good job overall at expressing the end result of what this feature seeks to accomplish. Looking to the horizon, it will probably take Microsoft some time to come up with a more positive name that still clearly and succinctly expresses the functionality of this feature.

It is reassuring that Microsoft is not resting on its laurels and is on the prowl for ways to make Intel Core more on par with ARM in battery life. We are still only in the earliest of the stages of this new, developing technology and we are already seeing substantial improvements in battery life right out of the gate. Taking a laptop from 8 hours of battery life to 9 hours without any noticeable performance drops is high praise to the degree of optimization they have already achieved. With luck, they can maintain this trajectory a little longer and eek out even more power efficiency, going from 8 hours to 10 hours (from a 10% improvement to a 20% one)!


#3

Sounds like a really good decision. Certainly since they give the user the possibility to adjust the setting themselves unlike apple.


#5

one hour more for the V ?
True with its processor ?


#6

Could happen. Right now under their very special circumstances Microsoft accomplished 10% more battery life. But I wouldn’t have my hopes too high up. It’s a complicated thing to automatically control CPU usage with so many desktop programs available… And it’ll definitely work with our processor :slight_smile:


#7

I think it is possible that we can further increase the power efficiency envelope of Windows 10 with further improvements to Power Throttling. One of the main reasons Windows 10 has worse battery life than Mac OS X is the number of legacy OS background services which reside in the background. These may sometimes use more CPU time than they ought to, thereby increasing power consumption over time. On the other hand, if Windows 10 throttled back these background services more often aggressively, we could see a substantial battery life improvement. In addition, Microsoft could purposely throttle certain background programs like Dropbox and Google Drive to achieve a similar effect on a wider scale. Doing all this, I think they may be able to eek out maybe another 5%, or maybe even 10%, for normal device usage scenarios (i.e. light web browsing, office productivity use, media playback). Of course, these efficiency measures will have little effect on more demanding tasks like gaming, video conversion, or heavy multitasking.


#10

We should have chosen the more power hungry but faster pcie ssd, so this update will compensate for the additional power draw​:joy::joy:


#11

Oops. Thanks. I’ve moved it.