Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A few words about power management

One of the really neat things about Vista is the new resource monitor. It gives a very detailed in depth look at what is going on with your system. It offers a number of new metrics to see how your system is doing. Some of the readings that I got after installing baffled me a little.

In Vista, under the original task manager (Ctrl-Alt-Delete -> Task Manager) you can find your CPU utilization. I spent a decent amound of time looking at the CPU meter under XP 64 just to see what was going on under the hood. I found that for the most part the CPU never exceeded 30 - 40%. Only when a number of tasks or an installer was running would it go higher. Occasionally I'd leave WoW and EVE running at the same time and wonder why it wasn't quite as fast as it should be. Mind you, I'm overly sensitive and have high expections for my new machine. However when I was not using the machine, I found that the CPU was largely idle (1% Usage)

So after I installed Vista it seemed that my base usage had gone up, a lot. It also seemed that the general responsiveness of the machine was lower. I became curious and investigated further. I found that there is a new button, under the "Performance" tab in the Task Manager. It's the resource monitor. The resource monitor provides a vast amount of information. Amoing it's nice features is a CPU readout. Unlike task manager there are two data points, a blue line "Frequency" and the traditional green line, CPU usage.

I watched the graph and realized in short order that the CPU was by default, not running at 100%. In fact, most of the time it was clocked at 38%, the lowest speed possible. I typed in the word "Power" in the start menu and it brought up "Power Options". Sure enough, Vista is clocked at "Balance" by default. This means that if your cpu supports Cool n' Quiet (Lame name AMD) or SpeedStep Vista will enable it by default. It's nice that Vista supports these features by default.

So, if you feel like Vista is a little slower than XP, it probably is by default, but know that you are helping the environment by keeping the "Balanced" or "Power Saver" setting. You can always change it to give you a boost when you need it.

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