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Some AMD laptops reduce system performance for better battery life, but is that OK?

Amd Logo Laptop Ryzen
Amd Logo Laptop Ryzen (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

There are few examples as inspiring as AMD when it comes to tech media — a formerly written-off company is now making a powerful comeback, taking on the lumbering old Intel. AMD seemingly can do no wrong as the underdog. Not only is it a great tale, but it is also good for the industry, thanks to increased competition.

But putting aside the hyperbolic fanbases from both camps, AMD does have some odd behavior found in laptops. I'm not sure it's the wrong approach, but it's a very different one from Intel's.

The issue at hand is a significant reduction in performance across the board — CPU, GPU, and even the SSD — when using the laptop's battery compared to being plugged into a wall. It is something I've talked about with Surface Laptop 4, found in the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14, and now the new Razer Blade 14. Intel systems, by comparison, don't do this at all.

Who is right, and does it even matter? Let's talk about it.

AMD Ryzen Mobile and the "throttling" of performance

Razer Blade 14 2021 Hero Lid

Source: Daniel Rubino | Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino | Windows Central)

When plugged into a wall for power (AC), modern AMD laptops are powerful machines, obliterating most Intel laptops thanks to their multi-core advantage (Intel still pulls ahead on single-core performance, for what it's worth). AMD is so good that it can rival Apple's M1 on Cinebench, even passing it on multi-core performance.

AMD laptops also get commendable battery life. It is not mind-blowingly good, but it often competes with or approaches Intel's Evo-certified laptops. And from that perspective, the narrative is AMD laptops get much better performance and excellent battery life, so why go with Intel?

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

The trouble I have with that narrative is many AMD laptops achieve their battery life because, when not on AC, the performance of the CPU, GPU, and even the SSD is dramatically slowed down. I tried to illuminate this issue in my Surface Laptop 4 review: An Intel Surface Laptop 3 beats a newer AMD Surface Laptop 4 when both are on battery yet they get the same amount of battery life. Bring the Core i7 Surface Laptop 4 into the picture, and it obliterates the AMD one when away from the charger yet manages analogous battery life.

Now imagine battery life if the AMD system performance wasn't reduced?

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

On the Razer Blade 14, these drops were even more significant. On 3DMark's Time Spy Extreme, frames per second (FPS) drop from 33 FPS to just 11 in one graphics test. In another, 29 FPS to just 9 FPS when switching from AC to DC. The SSD drops from a very respectable 3,562MB/s sequential read to just 1,811 MB/s – nearly halving storage performance.

Razer does let you set some "extreme" settings in its Synapse software to push the Blade 14, but it only applies to AC, not when on battery. And that's how you can summarize the Blade 14: It's bonkers powerful on AC, but on battery, it's simply OK at best, disappointing at worst.

As to why this happens, it is clear AMD would like to prolong battery life, which is an admirable goal. Razer confirmed the SSD performance drop is due to PSPP (PCIe Speed Power Policy) set by AMD and is not something it can control. I assume something similar is happening with the CPU and GPU, too.

But Is AMD wrong?

Surface Laptop 4 13 Intel Hero

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

AMD is trying to find a balance between performance and battery life, and its strategy makes sense when you think about how people use laptops. I've known quite a few video editors in my career, and they all worked plugged-in, which is likely the same for gamers. When you want to do serious work, you find a power outlet. I think that assumption is valid for most users.

I believe that defense dwindles on Surface Laptop 4, where users are more about productivity than heavy lifting — should their performance be cut when launching Excel or running a web browser? I do not see the upside there.

To be clear, when using something like the AMD Surface Laptop 4 on DC, it never felt sluggish. And that may be the point. The Razer Blade 14 is a bit more complicated, as one owner let me know he is returning it precisely because of the degraded performance:

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Intel takes a differing approach to modern computing. Newer 10th and 11th Gen laptops barely budge in performance regardless of the power state (AC or DC). Intel prioritizes short bursts of performance, so when you launch an app or open the lid, the laptop is instantly responsive (AMD, meanwhile, has a "10-second delay" to ramp up). Intel does this while also getting impressive battery life, especially when the laptop meets Evo requirements.

However, I do think there are two issues with AMD that need to be addressed:

  1. Consumer education: When you buy a laptop with AMD, do you know system performance may be degraded when on battery?
  2. Controls: Why are there no overrides for this behavior?

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

The first one is on laptop makers to be honest about how these chips work. Most reviewers plug in the laptop, set it to max performance, run some benchmarks and call it a day. It is rare to run a suite of benchmarks on battery because, historically, there has been a negligible difference. But that has changed now with AMD.

The second item is more baffling. Microsoft built a robust slider mechanism into Windows 10 for controlling battery and performance. "Battery saver" reduces performance and dims the screen. "Recommended" tries to balance everything for most users. "Better performance" favors the CPU and GPU, and "Best performance" lets everything fly. Microsoft wants you to pick the power mode you need at the moment.

But, while Windows has this system in place, some AMD laptops do not follow it, at least not like Intel. Set your Blade 14 to "Best performance," and your processor and SSD will slightly increase performance, but to a degree that is still miles behind "Best performance" when on AC. Want to flick a switch to get the same performance on AC as on DC? Sorry, it does not exist.

All of this feels off for me. At the very least, AMD should let users push the system as hard as it can, battery life be damned.

Why is AMD given a pass on this?

Razer Blade 14 2021 Battery Power

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

I'm sympathetic to AMD's goals here, but I am also surprised its strategy is not a bigger deal. This week, we got this headline: "OnePlus limits app performance on OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro to improve battery life," which is causing quite a stir. Sound familiar? Sure, there are some differences, but when was the last time you fully expected your laptop to drop by 40% in performance when not plugged in? Did I miss something where this became normal?

Turning the tables, imagine if Intel was bragging about the improved battery life in its processors only to have it revealed that it achieves this by nearly halving system performance — even the SSD! — when not plugged in. AMD fans would be frothing about how stupid Intel was, tech headlines would be trashing the company, and it would be a PR nightmare with Intel being accused of cheating. But when AMD does it, it is no big deal. Go team red?

PCWorld did an excellent analysis of the topic providing a ton of data. It takes the same even-handed attitude as I am trying to do here — as I said, I get why AMD is taking this approach.

But as a reviewer, my problem is this adds a new wrinkle in explaining system performance, which is already highly complicated. Do we now need to report a laptop's performance both on AC and DC? Will audiences understand why setting to max performance is not max performance if you are not plugged into the wall? And does anyone even care?

AMD vs. Intel is not black vs. white

Intel Evo Logo

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

So, who is better: Intel or AMD? It is a rhetorical question, as both companies are doing some exceptional work in the processor space. What is also becoming clear is AMD is forging its own path on how it thinks laptops should operate, and it differs from Intel. That is all fine.

While I am not against the idea of reducing system performance to increase battery life, I am not sure why AMD needs to ignore the system performance slider found in Windows 10 to get there. It all feels a bit too hidden from the consumer. I am also unclear on why laptop makers are not more forthcoming about these performance drops, although that seems self-explanatory – it does not look good, even if the intention behind it is.

In the end, the market will likely sort this out, and that is where you come into the picture. Do you think AMD's approach is the right one? Does it impact your thoughts on buying a new laptop? Should we even bother talking about DC performance differences in notebooks? Should Intel cut its performance on DC, too?

Let me know what you think.

Daniel Rubino
Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

  • It's never ok without user consent.
  • I think it's a great idea, though it should be optional. Or at least tied to your power plan.
  • News flash intel laptops have been doing that for over 15 years.
  • No, they have not and current Intel laptops definitely do not do this.
  • "If you're gonna cheat...WIN!"
  • What Intel did was way worse, Daniel. They throttled your unit even if it's plugged in because their thermal protection kicks in. How do you feel paying for the marketed x GHz only to be throttled down? And if you're mostly doing heavy workload, you'll be getting that marketed speed for a very small amount of your productive time.
  • So it would be ok for Intel to let you melt your CPU? You are grasping at straws.
  • "What Intel did was way worse, Daniel. They throttled your unit even if it's plugged in because their thermal protection kicks in."
    Thermal throttling issues are a separate concern and vary by device, not processor. If a Surface Pro 6 from 2018 (with a 2017 CPU) doesn't have performance differences on AC vs DC, then certainly this is not an "Intel thing." (I just re-tested Pro 6 and posted the numbers below to verify). Remember, Intel doesn't thermal throttle your CPU, the OEM did who built the laptop with poor thermal constraints and mitigation. Any OEM can build a laptop, use poor thermals and let the CPU fly to 5.0GHz. Intel lets OEMs do that, but it's not Intel's fault the OEM engineered a poor device. It's no different than if you built a desktop Intel rig and didn't use proper cooling. You can't blame Intel for the resulting throttling. They gave you the processor, you just messed up on how to cool it. Also, all laptops thermal throttle - AMD and Intel. But if you put the Blade 14 in a freezer and unplugged the laptop the performance would still drop by 40% - CPU, GPU, SSD. That's a very different problem. Anyway, thermal throttling is a separate issue and moving the goalposts.
  • Daniel, I love your ability to cut to the logic when dealing with so many people who seem to be emotionaly invested in an argument.
  • Daniel, respectfully you're wrong, and this is provable. Nearly every LAPTOP has done this for years. I have a 9th Gen Intel HP Omen and it DOES do this. Worse than that, Intel doesn't allow you to underclock anymore, so even plugged in they suffer from throttling and thermal issues... which you could fix by....undervolting
  • My data suggests otherwise and even PCWorld (linked in the article) backs up what I am saying. Intel certainly never throttled the SSD.
  • In terms of just the SSD, no. In terms of the CPU, absolutely, and I'd be happy to take screenshots of my unit. Now perhaps Intel doesn't do it this drastically, Most of us see the CPU drop about 25%, Also if you're going to name components other than the CPU, Intel based laptops on some units will throttle down or shut OFF the GPU. How is that any different? Gaming Laptop et all are notorious for this. You have a point that we as consumers should have more control and transparency. Where you go astray is when you say only AMD does this
  • "Where you go astray is when you say only AMD does this"
    I just tested a Surface Pro 6 with a 2017 8th Gen Core i7 and I'll post the numbers below: (Geekbench tests 8764953 and 8764904 to verify): AC: 1019 / 3354 DC: 1057 / 3330 That's on a very thermal-constrained laptop from 3 years ago with a 4-year-old processor. Gaming laptops get more complicated because of issues with thermal throttling (plus OEM custom software to control CPU performance is very common complicating things), but on regular Ultrabooks e.g. HP Envy x360 as noted by another commenter, the CPU/SSD/GPU drops are significant. This is a common theme with AMD laptops regardless of Ultrabooks status or gaming rig. There may exceptions with Intel - I certainly haven't seen them and it's not widely reported as an issue - but I disagree this is the same, or even the same level as what AMD is doing, which is very common (all the AMD laptops I have: ROG Zeph, Blade 14, Laptop 3/4, HP Envy x360 do this). Moreover, this seems to be AMD policy vs odd OEM configuration/customizations (which may explain Intel exceptions, assuming your results are accurate). Take something like the Blade 14 which we just reviewed. Some of the performance drops by merely unplugging it is well over 40% with the CPU dropping below 2GHz. It's a night/day difference when on AC vs DC.
  • My G15 R9 will drop its frequency about 25% when I unplug it and the PC will also shut down the discrete RTX 3070 in favor of the integrated Radeon. I personally don't care. Raw performance for what I'm usually wanting to do on battery isn't as critical. Meaning if I'm not plugged into the wall, I'm usually doing something that isn't all that taxing and I prefer the longer battery life. Plus, even throttled 25%, it is still at 3.2 GHz. When I want to play games or heavy encoding, I make an effort to plug in. If anything, to reduce the risk of running out of battery mid-stream.
  • It's not about whether or not you care, it's about whether or not it's apparent to the user upon purchasing the laptop. I, like you, would probably not be against this behavior on my laptop, if I had one. However, it's something the user should know and decide. If I want to kill my battery under full load as much as possible, that should be my choice. That's supposed to be the point of power plans in Windows, IMO. I imagine most people would think it's controlled through power plans, and learning you have no such control would be frustrating.
  • There should be a default setting but I agree should be changeable by the user.
  • It is. The ROG Armoury Crate allows me to set it back to "plugged in" mode even when on battery.
  • Not seeing that on the G14, just "Performance" mode as max in Armoury Crate (which is a terrible, goofy-looking app, but a separate issue). I don't necessarily doubt it as there are third-party apps that can also "trick" the system into thinking it's plugged in. None of this changes my view on how this seems a bit dishonest especially since laptops like Envy and Laptop don't offer such apps.
  • 15w, 28w, 28w with dynamic tuning. This is current Intel marketing and I'd like to know how it's any different for the average consumer Wipe your chin, you've got a little blue something on it
  • "15w, 28w, 28w with dynamic tuning. This is current Intel marketing and I'd like to know how it's any different for the average consumer"
    Because I've posted numbers as has PCWorld showing how in many AMD laptops unplugging it results is a significant drop in performance for CPU, GPU and SSD, which has nothing to do with overall TPM set by the OEM for the device. tl;dr Intel devices don't vary by 40% off AC. Not sure why this concept is so difficult for you to understand. Re-read the article.
    "Wipe your chin, you've got a little blue something on it"
    Member here for 23 hours. Watch yourself.
  • I only speak for myself and I personally don't care if it throttles on battery. As I said, when I am on battery mode, I prefer for the machine to operate longer and am not doing "plugged in" things. The throttling is not noticeable and I have 1444p165 display. Also, The ROG Armoury Crate application does allow me to set it back to "plugged in" mode even when on battery. So, yes, I have the option and ability to stop it from throttling on battery and let it anyway because... I don't care.
  • In reviewing the Blade 14 CPU clock speeds could drop under 2GHz on battery. That's not ok. Especially when it turbos the crap out of itself when it's plugged in. It's like a completely different laptop.
  • No it's not ok, it's cheating. It's anti consumer, and I don't know why team red let's them get a free pass on it. If they wanted to make it part of the requirements for OEMs to have the power profile for battery set to throttle performance by default that's great, but to make the system ignore power profiles altogether at a chipset level is just wrong.
  • It's definitely anti consumer, and if that wasn't specified at point of purchase (or labeled as such on the box) then it would be grounds for a return, at least in Australia it would be.
  • Well said Dan, my thoughts exactly. I get it why AMD have taken this approach. However, providing no user control is just completely wrong. As on a fundamental level effectively you do not have complete control over a laptop that you own. That's an extremely poor show on AMDs part and that's putting it mildly. AMD should not get a pass on this one. They need to add user controls to over ride PSPP and follow the power plan settings in Windows - on battery saver an aggressive pspp should kick in as that's where it makes most sense. If user's want to use High performance on battery power than that's their choice.
  • People will forgive AMD for this because people have had enough of Intel over the past decade doing nothing with their performance.
    This is an underdog story that is true, emotions are involved in purchasing decisions that is also true, but who cares. I’ve yet to see barely anything similar about Intel over the past decade from your pen, instead you’ve shifted the game to detract from the lead AMD has taken in general performance by now bringing out “AI” and “machine learning” built into chips like that means something to a general audience. That’s Intel PR.
    For the record, I’ve got 6 machines in my house. 4 Surfaces and 2 desktops. Only one of those is AMD. But as each new device in my house comes online, you can be certain that I’ll be giving AMD more of a chance than Intel. Not because of fanboy ism but because Intel have had their moment and have stuffed it. Let them fight for performance for once and I’ll reconsider. I’m sure ill be attacked for this comment but whatever. You asked a question “does anyone even care”. I won’t answer that question for others, just for myself. It’s a resounding Nope.
  • We would not attack you. You fall in the david v goliath mode. The media likes to tell a story. Marketing departments like to tell a story. The David v goliath story is an old story. You like the underdog. The media likes to promote the underdog. AMD's marketing department has used the underdog story to gain more market share. It works. Most people (85% of use cases) would never see the difference. So, marketing "pulls a fast one" on the consumer. Few consumers care about this sleight of hand. Most people use just a small fraction of the utility of the computer, except they prefer longer battery life more than anything else.
  • I think AMD should at least be more transparent with this practice. I have an HP Envy x360 with a Ryzen 4700U processor, and I definitely do notice reduced performance on battery power compared to AC power, but I honestly do not mind because when on battery power, I just do relatively lightweight tasks like browsing, writing documents and actually welcome the battery to last as long as possible. I see it as more of a quirk rather than a "feature".
  • I just wrapped up reading the Windows Central and PC World articles. Obviously, as pointed out in the articles, the AMD AC vs. DC performance delta is an engineering decision, a choice I am sure was made with serious thought behind it. No problems what so ever with that. What really caught my eye was the Adobe tests run by the PC World team. How PCs behave when unplugged for me is a big deal. I pick my mobile PCs specifically so Photoshop can process moderately complex images. This means multiple layers, channel level contrast corrections. filters, masking, dodging, color adjustments, midtone pull ups and sharpening to name a few items. This also includes processing raw files in Camera Raw, especially for white balance, lens corrections, chromatic aberration fixes, contrast curves, and sharpening. I expect and depend on the Photoshop UI to behave in a predicable manner. Some goes for processing: if an operation takes 5 minutes to process on AC power the last thing I want to discover out of the blue is this same operation on DC power is now going to take 10 minutes or even bomb out. When I am out and about I process images on DC power, with some regularity, for a range of reasons such as test proofing a shot or getting ready for publishing it on my blog. With this in mind, I would gladly give up 10% - 15% using Intel on AC power when compared to AMD if I am going to get consistent behavior from Intel when on DC power. The AMD DC performance fall off is a non starter in my case. Which brings me back to crux of the matter: this difference is a design choice, no problem with that. However, I have fairly outlined a legitimate use case where AMD not disclosing this up front is a real issue. Further, this is something I would never have discovered on my own if I hadn't read these two articles. This is a deal breaker for me and if I discovered it after plunking down $1500 to $2000 for a machine only to find I am not getting the full loaf all the time, putting my reaction mildly, I would be rather annoyed. So while this issue is a legitimate design choice it also a consumer transparency issue that demands being disclosed in big, bold type. AMD not disclosing this behavior up front is why lawyers make lots of money suing companies in class action lawsuits.
  • Very good point re: Adobe/Ps work. It's a good example as it's not uncommon to find video cards forcing some limits on battery for gaming, but your example is more real-world and non-gaming related. Thanks for sharing.
  • Dell does the same (with CPU down clocked to a seventh of its normal rate) when we use a different brand power adapter. I stopped buying Dell after I found out this but I am forced to use them at work. I just hate Dell laptops.
  • Never heard that, but will give it a go. OTOH, Dell is the only company that I know that can ship a 130W Type-C charger, so they definitely do something unique for power.
  • That could also be related to protecting the device (eg against cheap/bad charges) or you using phone usb c chargers which are just to weak provide sufficient power. Other brands do something similar.
  • Correct. HP notifies you too if you're using a non-HP charger.
  • No such thing as a free lunch, not when Intel and AMD are still on a chunky architecture like x86-64. As a consumer, I don't mind AMD reducing performance to get better battery life than Intel as long as they're up front about the degree of reduction. I would be angry if my new laptop suddenly loses 1/3 of its performance when on battery. Could this be down to thermal issues in thin designs? Single core performance looks similar but multicore is throttled hard, probably to reduce heat and power usage. Intel has had thermal throttling issues in very thin designs like Surface Pros and Surface Books for years.
  • "Could this be down to thermal issues in thin designs?"
    Definitely not thermal throttling, as Razer even offers an extreme "turbo" that can be enabled on AC pushing the system beyond standard "Best performance" (this is in the Cinebench 23 results posted above). This is purely related to 8-cores being able to use a lot of power if allowed to go full throttle (it's also why the SSD is reduced, which doesn't have thermal concerns). Conversely, Intel lets its chip hit some pretty high peaks, albeit briefly, while on battery. You can get some very good performance, but sustaining that is challenging for thermals, and definitely takes a hit on battery.
  • Agreed, thermal throttling is a second order issue whereas the primary issue is power consumption. It looks sneaky for AMD to do this because they can now claim higher performance at lower power consumption, even though you can't have both at the same time. On a perf/watt basis, does AMD still have an advantage over Intel? Maybe they should do like what cars have done - a V8 engine can deactivate cylinders and become a V4 at light load to reduce fuel consumption, so an 8-core chip could have a user selectable setting to go to 4 cores only for longer battery life. If the user wants full powaaaarrrr with one hour battery life, then have a setting for that too. I'm typing this on a Surface Pro X with small and big cores. x86-land really needs to move to heterogenous computing instead of just lumping big cores together.
  • "On a perf/watt basis, does AMD still have an advantage over Intel?"
    I assume so, but it's not something I typically look at.
  • I had been leaning toward Ryzen for my next [laptop] computer purchase, but now it's definitely going to be either Tiger Lake or Jasper Lake. Well, probably one of each--one budget/fanless and one not. The user should have full control over what balance he/she wants with performance vs. battery life.
  • It's pretty clear that right now, if you want the best performance you get AMD. All these intel puff pieces can't get around reality numbers.
  • This is an Intel puff piece? Guess you didn't read it.
  • It's "pretty clear that right now" you don't have an actual response to refute what is presented here and offer no "reality numbers."
  • It should be optional. For the tests I've seen AMD CPUs to reach a certain level of performance use less power then Intel, so I don't know why they don't give an option. This makes sense, keeping Single threaded performance while reducing multi threaded performance and SSD performance is ideal for light tasks that you do on battery. So the only thing I ask is transparency and an option.
  • My Core i5 Surface Pro 7 does the same. And the less the battery, the less the performance.
    When plugged, it's not the same machine. It's night and day.
  • Sorry, but a few things here as this is not correct: You may confusing thermal throttling - the temperature of the device gets too hot and the CPU slows down with the issue we are discussing here. Those are separate things. All devices thermal throttle, whether AMD or Intel. We're also talking about how on AMD the SSD is slowed, something that Intel devices do not do. There may be something else going with your device, not sure as I'm not there to test, but Intel devices definitely do not do the "same" as AMD ones. I just benched Surface Pro 6 with an i7 (so even older than yours) and I'll post the Geekbench scores (tests 8764953 and 8764904 to verify): AC: 1019 / 3354 DC: 1057 / 3330 That's the normal, expected performance of Intel laptops (putting aside thermal throttling issues, which is a separate topic).
  • The consumer does not care or understand the point you are making. This is marking at its finest. The Press on the other hand is all about clicks and having the underdog take on the monopolist is a great click generator. Your question is applicable to all sorts of media issues. The NBA is woke, but they ignore the CCP to generate profits in China Russia, Russia, Russia. Politicians are all about making the other guy look bad and lie all the time doing it. And the press picks sides and goes full tilt. You will never get around the media bias from any perspective. I am an engineer by education and a businessman by profession. I like to think I make rational decisions. An engineer making an irrational decision results in a failed device. A business making a bad decision results in bankruptcy. But this topic is all about marketing and trying to garner more sales. Most consumers just don't care about this topic.
  • I'm with you on the media in general, but this is a great article for a semi-technical audience, like us here at Windows Central. I didn't know AMD did this until reading Dan's article. I also think he presents a very balanced view, acknowledging the valid reason for doing this, while challenging or asking on the messaging and communications or lack thereof.
  • I agree. Daniel is a good journalist, and this is a good article. He is also good at correcting perspectives made by commentators. Too bad most publications have a strong slant to play to their audience.
  • In short, having AMD take on and defeat Intel is a long-term media narrative and the media will not apply basic logic in pursuing that narrative.
  • I don't understand how Apple's laptop are working the same even if it's unplugged. Why Windows Pc can't do the same? When taking my MacBook on the go I know I have the same power as plugged. Specially with the new M1 the battery is really great. And for graphic design work it's really fantastic(minus size of the screen) and fast with the new Adobe update suite for apple silicon.
    On my surface book 3 it's a disaster. The fan is kicking almost every time on adobe Indesign/ illustrator, it's slow and run super hot. (the same with my 16' MacBook Pro but expected as it is more powerful) / I never heard the fan even with an heavy load in illustrator or indesign with the M1. And get ok battery with it.
    I am curious to see what can offer an Arm processor from AMD
  • Well the M1 is an ARM CPU for one. ARM CPUs have been operating on battery at high performance forever, just check out that slab in your pocket. Apple also has an advantage with M1 that they're in control of absolutely everything. No Windows hardware partner can say that. not even Microsoft.
  • Excellent article. I didn't know AMD did that. I do generally go into my Power settings for every new laptop and set max power on battery to something like 80%. I don't know if power usage is linear as it reaches 100% (e.g. 100% CPU uses exactly twice 50%), but in case not, I figure 80% should still give reasonable performance and maybe significantly extend battery life. It sounds like AMD's goal is the same, which I respect, but also agree with the comments here that they should make that clear upfront.
  • So I thought the Windows 10 battery slider impacted the power throttling of background processes. Having the slider in "Battery Saver" or "Better Battery" is suppose to allow background processes to use lower clock steps. And I thought the battery slider is not suppose to impact foreground processes. In other words, foreground processes should get access to the top clock step on the processor if it needs it. These are just working assumptions I have. Not sure if they are correct; or even how to validate. I think the battery slider can also impact if a process suspends in the background. A suspended process will take no CPU and often 0 RAM if swapped out to virtual RAM. So AMDs practice is lame. Foreground processes should not be compromised when on battery without the user being aware of it and having some control over it. Foreground processes should get top CPU resources on battery if it cannot be controlled. With some processors/PC makers, there is an advanced power management setting to control max CPU utilization on battery and AC. If this setting is not available on these AMD computers, then the CPU should be allowed to go to max step speed when on battery.
  • I realize this is Windows central, but FYI - this is going on with the Ryzen C-series for Chromebooks, too. C13 Yoga G1 w/3700C and 16GB RAM owner here.
  • Interesting, thanks for the feedback. Makes sense as this isn't really a Windows issue, but an AMD one.
  • Intel have had SpeedStep for over 15 years that reduces the clock rate to save battery power. I remember using Think pads back then and you could disable SteedStep to keep the processor at full speed. You could turn it off in the BIOS.
  • This isn't just reducing CPU clock speeds, it's downclocking almost everything in the system to reduce power consumption. It's set at the firmware level so users have no control over it.
  • That is the way to do it, giving the customer a choose even if it preferable to have that choose directly from within the OS and not from BIOS.
  • "Intel have had SpeedStep for over 15 years that reduces the clock rate to save battery power."
    It reduces clock rate when the processor is idling or doing low-priority background tasks. SpeedStep was crucial for the battery as, previously, laptops would run at 2.0GHz, basically all the time. It has nothing to do, however, with limiting peak performance during high-intensity tasks while on DC.
  • Another good article! I didn't check but experienced performance issue while gaming on Battery on Dell 5559 (intel i5 6th gen + Radeon mGPU) laptop. Unfortunately, the battery life has ended in April and I'm using it on DC from that day. The worst thing is, I didn't get an original battery.
  • Getting better battery performance isn't cheating. It's doing what many customers want. I'd lower my CPU performance if it meant I got battery gains. You don't need the power to run Edge and Office. x86 architecture is lousy at battery, so they do what they've gotta do.
  • Yes it is, if the buyer is not informed and there is no choose for the user to override this. I would be good if there was a choose of battery vs speed and it was very clear that the preferable setting was conserving battery but if I wanted to have better speed I could choose that. AMD have not been informing of the battery saving throttling or given the user the ability to override it. That took it into cheating territory.
  • EVERY SINGLE LAPTOP SOLD has used CPU throttling to conserve battery.
  • @blahism: Not true. Are you intentionally making this false claim or are you confusing this with thermal throttling?
  • PLUGIN IF YOU NEED PEAK PERFORMANCE. THIS IS NOTHING NEW. How AMD may be doing this, may be different but holy crap, it's not a conspiracy. DON'T BUY IF YOU DON'T LIKE.
  • "EVERY SINGLE LAPTOP SOLD has used CPU throttling to conserve battery."
    100% false. You are wrong on this. Intel laptops do not throttle based on AC or DC. It's literally the point I make in the article, otherwise, this would be NBD.
    Again, this is the point I am making. Most reviews do not point out that many AMD laptops do this. How can the consumer make an informed decision to buy something if they don't know ahead of time the potential drawbacks? OEMs don't even tell reviewers that this is normal behavior, how is this consumer to know until after they bought it? And, even then, may not notice for weeks. This is about consumer education. This topic is not talked about a lot either independently or in specific product reviews. I'm trying to change that as I think it is important.
    "it's not a conspiracy"
    No one said it's a conspiracy. It is, however, not at all obvious, either.
  • There is only so much you can do with current battery tech. Optimisation of everything else is the key for now. It's also a tough area to work in.
  • If memory management can be done effectively, then why not? Your phone is doing it too
  • Have you reached out to AMD or the OEM to see if this is normal behavior or a bug with SmartShift? Dell’s G5 SE has been a nightmare, they cut a lot of corners and build quality is crap. After repaste/repad and fresh install it is a complete different machine.
  • It's not a bug. There are more AMD laptops that do this too, including Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 and HP Envy x360 13 (AMD) that I have tested. And PCWorld found it on the Asus ZenBook UM325. HP Command Center has a "performance" mode to really push the system (fans always on), but it only works on AC.
  • Will check tonight on my G5 SE 5505. Don’t usually use it on battery so curious what the results will be
  • Just ran Cinebench R23 on my G5 SE 5505. I only lost 1000pts on multicore going from ac to battery….
  • BTW. Ran on Windows 11 with more performance option. Not sure if that makes a difference. Wonder how much leeway oems have with power plan. I remember AMD had a power plan you could download for Windows. Currious if that would show different results. If all AMD laptops showed this trend I would blame AMD but thinking OEMs have some part of this.
  • Excellent article Daniel. I know people are emotionally invested in AMD and are willing to overlook when AMD does anti-consumer and misleading stuffs (remember, misleading core count claim and then settle in court). This kind of forgiving attitude make the companies do it over and over again. But facts are facts. We should call out when AMD, Intel, Nvidia, or any company does it. I have seen people are doing great job at exposing when Nvidia or Intel does something wrong. But when it comes to AMD, I have seen hesitancy. Youtuber and tech journalists are scared of the internet mobs/fanboys and don't say anything critical to AMD when they do anti-consumer stuff. Letting them get away with these will make them do these again.
  • "Youtuber and tech journalists are scared of the internet mobs/fanboys and don't say anything critical to AMD when they do anti-consumer stuff. "
    Yeah, that's a legit point. Obviously, most fans of AMD are good-hearted people, but like all "tribes," there is a small contingency who refuse to even allow any criticism. Even I had to word this very carefully because the reflexive, hysterical pushback is real. It gets very personal, quickly, which is a shame.
  • Just to play the devil's advocate, Razer is absolutely notorious for power throttling their laptops which is one of the biggest reasons people don't buy them (along with their poor service). This could well be a Razer issue, not AMD. Maybe WindowsCentral team could get their hands on the All-AMD laptop "ASUS ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition" and try to reproduce the same issue. Just to be sure.
  • It's not just Razer. HP (ENVY x360, Aero), Asus (ZenBook UM325), Microsoft (Laptop 3, 4), and Lenovo (Slim 7) laptops also do this.