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

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 RaiderHitmanGrand Theft Auto V
Best Performance (Plugged in)68 fps120 fps85 fps
Best Performance (Unplugged)40 fps38 fps16 fps
Windows 10 Battery Saver Mode19 fps37 fps7 fps
GeForce Battery Boost Mode19 fps30 fps16 fps
Dragon Center Eco Mode15 fps30 fps17 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

As soon as Rami Tabari sprung out of the College of Staten Island, he hit the ground running as a Staff Writer for Laptop Mag. He reviews every shape and form of a laptop as well as all sorts of cool tech. You can find him sitting at his desk surrounded by a hoarder's dream of laptops, and when he navigates his way out to civilization, you can catch him watching really bad anime or playing some kind of painfully difficult game. He’s the best at every game and he just doesn’t lose. That’s why you’ll occasionally catch his byline in Tom’s Guide, taking on the latest Souls-like challenge.