Help Me, Laptop: Can I Game on Battery-Saver Mode?

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Gaming laptops generally have poor battery life due to how much power monster GPUs like Nvidia's GTX 1080 can soak up.


However, if you want to squeeze out as much gaming as you possibly can, what are the consequences of putting your laptop in a battery-saving mode? One Tom's Guide forum user asked us to help them out.

ghost.freak.user writes, "I play games on my laptop. Is [turning on battery saver] a good option? I [know] it saves battery, but [does] it really affect performance?"

To test this, we took MSI's GT63 Titan 8RG (Core i7-8750H, 32GB of RAM, GTX 1080) and ran three gaming benchmarks on battery settings such as Best Performance (plugged and unplugged), Windows 10 Battery Saver, Nvidia's Battery Boost and MSI's Eco Mode.

Battery-mode benchmark results

  Rise of the Tomb Raider Hitman Grand Theft Auto V
Best Performance (Plugged in) 68 fps 120 fps 85 fps
Best Performance (Unplugged) 40 fps 38 fps 16 fps
Windows 10 Battery Saver Mode 19 fps 37 fps 7 fps
GeForce Battery Boost Mode 19 fps 30 fps 16 fps
Dragon Center Eco Mode 15 fps 30 fps 17 fps

  

Rise of the Tomb Raider

Running Rise of the Tomb Raider on Very High 1080p settings yielded some interesting results. The Titan averaged 68 frames per second when it was plugged in, compared with about 40 fps when it was unplugged. We then ran separate tests for the Windows 10 Battery Saver and GeForce Battery Boost, and both averaged 19 fps. Meanwhile, the Dragon Center’s Eco Mode pulled a mere 15 fps.

Hitman

The Titan ripped apart the Hitman benchmark (Ultra, 1080p) while plugged in, at 120 fps, but severely downgraded to 38 fps when we unplugged it. Battery Saver didn't affect the performance much from there, as the benchmark hit 37 fps. However, Eco Mode and Battery Boost were playing with fire, at 30 fps.

MORE: Which GPU is Right For You?

Grand Theft Auto V

On the Grand Theft Auto V benchmark (Very High, 1080p), the Titan nailed 85 fps while plugged in. What was interesting was that both the unplugged Best Performance settings and Battery Boost hit 16 fps. On top of that, Eco Mode actually did better by one measly frame, for 17 fps. However, the Battery Saver mode sunk hard to 7 fps.

So, how much does battery saver affect gaming?

A lot. And ultimately, the numbers we got when the machine was unplugged were unreliable as well. If you're playing with a gaming laptop, there's no guarantee it'll meet 30 fps to be playable, whether you're on the best performance settings or using a battery-saving app. Generally, laptops with powerful GPUs like the Titan are best used with a direct power source to be fully functional. Moral of the story: Leave that sucker plugged in at all times.

Credit: Laptop Mag

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