Everyone is going Green these days – there’s no denying that – and Microsoft is no exception. But the computer giant isn’t just going green internally, they’re also developing tools to help every user save energy… and save the world. I recently discovered the Power Efficiency Diagnostics tool in this article of useful Windows 7 tips and tricks (page 3). This tool is run from the command line, but the output is a well formatted HTML report detailing your computer’s power consumption, and possible improvements to be made.
The power Efficiency diagnostics tool not only provides the details of your power consumption, abut also allows you to change and improve your settings using the same command. The full command line option set can be found here, but I’ve provided some of the more useful commands below.
Note: To run this tool, you must be running the command prompt as an administrator. The quickest way to do this is to click start, type cmd, and press CTRL+Shift+Enter
Performs a 60-second test, and generates an HTML report based on your computer’s power settings and energy consumption. This option is only available on Windows 7.
Reports information about the event that woke the computer from the last sleep transition.
powercfg -devicequery query_flags
Lists all devices that can wake your computer from various states of sleep. This is useful if your computer seems to magically wake itself up with no input from you. Check the documentation for detailed options.
Now, as a test and an example, I’ll lay all my cards on the table. I’m going to run though the diagnostic tool and see how I can improve my own consumption. I can tell you right now, BAMF-Raptor is not the model of power-sipping efficiency. The neon kinda gives that away…
To run the diagnostic:
1) Click Start, type cmd (run as Administrator if necessary), open the Command Prompt
2) Type powercfg -energy to begin the diagnostic with default settings. The test runs for 60 seconds…
3) … and returns information of the number and type of alerts, and the path to the full diagnostic report. My test resulted in 16 errors, 22 warnings, and 14 tips. Ouch.
4) The diagnostic report goes into detail about each warning, error, and informational item.
Most of my errors were redundant; 12 of them told methat my USB devices did not turn off when the system was idle. Two of my errors warned me that my computer did not automatically sleep or hibernate after a period of inactivity. However, I disabled these settings on purpose because, ever since upgrading to Windows 7, I’ve gotten the BSOD every time I try to put it to sleep. The last two errors warned me of an unusually high processor utilization (14.9%) and a hardware incompatibility that forced PCI Express Active State Power Management to be disabled.
The warnings mostly had to do with various individual programs or processes that caused Windows to run inefficiently, either due to unusually high processor utilization, or overriding of the idle-state timer. In may case, the greatest offenders in both catagories were:
- Firefox (The highest power user. Also, ironically, what the HTML report was opened in)
- Google Talk Plugin
- ambx Illuminate
- PlayOn Server
- 3DConnexion 3D Mouse Driver
- SolidWorks Background Downloader
Keep in mind that my computer was basically idle at the time, with no hardware-intensive programs running at the time. I’ll run this diagnostic with a number of heavy programs open soon.
Also, although not important for my desktop, laptop users may be interested in the warning that states “The current power policy for 802.11-compatible wireless network adapters is not configured to use low-power modes.” This may affect power consumption and signal quality when on battery mode.
The information section included details on the process strings which returned the lowest platform timer setting, and therefore used the most power (I think). For example, the highest consumer included Firefox and all it’s add-in and a bunch of Microsoft kernels, which were all part of one task. Below that, the report listed the names and settings of the current Power Plan, including a value known as its “Personality.” Apparently my computer has a balanced personality. Who knew?
This section will also check battery and system inefficiencies, supported sleep modes, processor power management schemes, and so on.
Give it a try and see how you stack up. Leave a comment below with your results, and may the greenest machine win.
UPDATE: See my new post with benchmark tests of heavy programs.