How To Set System Cooling Policy To Optimize Windows 10 Performance And Laptop Battery Usage

Computer OverheatingComputer Overheating

Have you ever wondered why your system is getting hot or why the fan starts speeding even when there is not much processor usage? This is because of the system cooling policy modes Microsoft introduced in Windows 8 and now they are also available in Windows 10.

In this article, we will discuss what these cooling modes are and how you can optimize your system for better performance (especially laptop battery usage) using these modes.

What is the system cooling policy?

Windows 10 Operating System can automatically sense the changes in computer usage and environmental conditions. This applies only when you have a device with thermal management capabilities.

After sensing the temperature changes, Windows can automatically apply a specific cooling policy to the hardware which will then make appropriate changes to the system to reduce temperature to the normal range.

Let’s take an example, the CPU is the most heat prone component of the computer. Each CPU comes with minimum, optimal and maximum operating temperature specifications. If you go beyond these ranges, your CPU may get damaged. So the processor power management is very important for the optimal performance of your system.

For modern Intel CPUs, the maximum operating temperature range is around 100℃. And the optimal range is below 80℃. If your processor temperature goes beyond 80℃, Windows will automatically activate its system cooling policy.

Active cooling policy vs passive cooling policy?

By default, Windows 10 comes with two cooling policies:

  1. Active cooling
  2. Passive cooling

Active Cooling

The active cooling policy will turn on and speed up the system fan to reduce the system temperature without affecting the system performance. This, in turn, increases the system power consumption.

Passive Cooling

The passive cooling will reduce the power consumption of the system components, hence reducing the overall system performance. This, in turn, saves power but also reduces system performance.

When to use active or passive cooling policies?

Normally Desktop PCs don’t come with a built-in battery. So they need to be connected to a power source all the time. This means that power consumption is not an issue for Desktop PCs. So it is advisable to keep the system cooling policy mode to Active for all Desktop PCs.

If you are using a laptop and want to prolong your battery usage, you should use an active cooling policy when the laptop is connected to a power source. And the passive cooling policy should be used when the laptop is on battery.

Activate Active/Passive cooling policy in Windows 10

Now let’s jump into the action part. The steps below will let you set the system cooling policy to active or passive. We will use a laptop so we can set different policies for plugged in and on battery settings.

  1. Go to Settings –> System –> Power and Sleep
  2. Click on Additional Power Options from the right-hand pane
    Power and sleep additional power settings
  3. Click on Change plan settings beside the plan which is active for you. Mine is High Performance.
  4. Now click on Advanced Power Settings
    Change advanced power settings
  5. Under Processor power management, expand System Cooling Policy
    Setting System cooling policy
  6. You can set the following system cooling policy:
    Plugged in: Active
    On battery: Passive

This setting will optimize and prolong your laptop battery usage. You can read more about the system cooling policy from Microsoft here.

Add/remove system cooling policy options in Windows 10

There are times when you will not see the system cooling policy option in Windows 10. Normally, Microsoft enables only passing cooling policy for mobile devices but if you have a laptop and you can’t see this option, you can add it using the command below:

Open Command Prompt with administrative privileges and run the following command:

powercfg -attributes SUB_PROCESSOR 94D3A615-A899-4AC5-AE2B-E4D8F634367F -ATTRIB_HIDE

And to remove this option, you can run the following command:

powercfg -attributes SUB_PROCESSOR 94D3A615-A899-4AC5-AE2B-E4D8F634367F +ATTRIB_HIDE

Hopefully, this will give you a good idea of when and how to use the system cooling policy options in Windows 10. What is your default cooling policy setting? Which setting do you prefer for your system? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Usman Khurshid is a seasoned IT Pro with over 15 years of experience in the IT industry. He has experience in everything from IT support, helpdesk, sysadmin, network admin, and cloud computing. He is also certified in Microsoft Technologies (MCTS and MCSA) and also Cisco Certified Professional in Routing and Switching.

1 comment

  • Jose Centeno
    Jose Centeno

    When i go to Additional Power Settings > Create a Power Plan or if i go to Change Advanced Power Settings, under Processor |Power Management, i don’t have the option Active or Passive, instead, I can increase the porcentage. What value should i enter is I want to set to Active or Passive?

    Thank you in advance for your help

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