Take charge

One major advantage desktop replacements hold over desktop PCs is the fact that they are portable. However, owing to their big LCD-screens and fast processors, their battery life isn't always amazing. So here's how to squeeze more life out of them, at no additional cost...

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By  Jason Saundalkar Published  August 13, 2007

One major advantage desktop replacements hold over desktop PCs is the fact that they are portable. However, owing to their big LCD-screens and fast processors, their battery life isn't always amazing. So here's how to squeeze more life out of them, at no additional cost...

1. Batteries store power through chemical reactions that take place when they are connected to a mains power supply. This power is then employed whenever the machine is disconnected from the mains, with more power being required the more intensive applications or games you run. Despite being encased, batteries are susceptible to temperature-related damage. Ideally you should fully charge and use your laptop at room temperature (between 20- and 24-degrees Celsius); you'll get the best battery life this way. Moreover, you'll also prolong the working life span of the battery itself. It's useful also to know that Lithium-ion batteries, used in almost all laptops, can explode in extremely warm environments.

2. Every component draws power, unless it is turned off or disabled. And some components are more notorious than others such as the CPU, gaming GPUs, hard drives, optical drives and wireless networking adapters. In the case of the CPU and GPU, these can be tweaked to run at slower speeds via the BIOS or your notebook's utility software, and doing so will give you a boost in terms of battery life. As far as the wireless networking adapter, hard- and optical-drives are concerned, you can't slow them down, but putting them to ‘sleep' will save you power.

3. Most notebooks are supplied with power management software, which contains a number of preset profiles designed to extend the life of your battery. They do this by reducing CPU speed, the brightness of the LCD, or even by turning off non-essential components such as Bluetooth. Depending on how you're using your machine, choose a profile that fits as this will give you some extra battery life. If your notebook lacks such a program, Windows XP and Vista have their own built-in software, which can be used in the same way. You can configure it by hitting Start and then going to Settings/Control Panel/Power Options.

4. Background programs such as Google Desktop, iTunes and even desktop ‘skin' apps such as Windows Blinds are no doubt useful and can give your dull desktop a fresh breath of life but these also drain your battery at the same time. Each of these programs makes use of the CPU and other components, so when you open a menu bar and a skin applies a shadow, this means you're using more power. We recommend you use only the bare essentials when you're running your notebook on batteries and you'll notice it lasts longer than before. Trust us on this.

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