Fix: Huge FPS Drop When Laptop Is Unplugged

When it comes to competitive gaming, having a decent (60+) FPS is crucial. This becomes even more important in multiplayer games like PUBG or Overwatch. Imagine your FPS suddenly dropping to 30 in the middle of a Deathmatch. It sucks, right?

If you’re on a laptop, you may often see Huge FPS drops when the laptop is unplugged. Let’s find out why it can happen and how you can solve it.

Why does FPS Drops when I Unplug my Laptop?

Most commonly there are two reasons:

  1. On Windows, Your power plan is set to Battery saver. This plan reduces overall performance when the laptop isn’t plugged in. Your laptop basically runs slower to conserve power and extend battery backup.
  2. Your Graphics card driver has a power-saving option turned on. When running on battery, it throttles GPU performance and caps maximum FPS to 30. This altogether results in a choppy and laggy gaming experience.

Does the laptop battery affect FPS?

No, the battery doesn’t directly affect FPS. But lithium batteries tend to have a limited lifetime. And since GPUs draw a lot of power, Many OEMs (like Nvidia) put safeguards like the one I mentioned. These safeguards limit rapid battery drain when playing resource-heavy games. Rapid discharge when gaming can deteriorate your battery health over time.

Moreover, limiting GPU performance increases battery backup. This is important for people who spend a lot of time outdoors. For example, longer backup time is important for a college-goer to complete her college works properly.

How do I get high FPS on battery?

While not recommended, you can always turn off the power-saving mode. You just have to change a few settings in a few places.

1. Change Power plan profile in Windows 10

If your laptop is running slower, always check the power plan settings first. People often turn on power-saving mode when running low on juice, then forget, and then complain about performance. This happens often, so always check.

You can change power plans by simply clicking on the battery icon in the taskbar notification area, move the slider to the right to select a performance profile.

(Windows) Clicking on the battery icon brings up power options.
Image: Clicking on the battery icon brings up power options.

Or you can go to Settings > System > Power & sleep > Additional power settings. This will open up the Power Options window. Change the setting to High Performance for maximum framerates.

Power Options in Windows 10 -  Change power plan to solve fps drop when unplugged
Image: Power Options window.

Reset Power plan

A badly configured power plan can be another reason you’re getting frame drops. To double-check everything, you should reset the power plans.

Open the Power Options window as shown above. Now click Change Plan Settings on one of the profiles.

Restoring default settigns for a power plan to fix fps drops on battery

Click on Restore Default Settings For This Plan. Hit yes, and repeat this for all of the power plans.

2. (Nvidia GPU) Disable Power saving mode.

If you have an Nvidia GPU and your FPS drops as soon as the charger is unplugged, you should check your graphics driver’s settings.

Since GPUs are power-hungry, Nvidia has a software restriction on performance when running on battery. There is a power-saving option inside the driver settings, it caps your FPS when running unplugged. You can view and change these settings inside the Nvidia control panel (not Geforce Experience).

First, make sure your drivers are up to date. To disable power saving, open the Nvidia control panel, go to 3D settings > Manage 3D settings > Program Settings tab.

Nvidia control panel - Turn off pwoer saving feature to fix fps drop when unplugged.
Image: Disabling Power saving mode for certain programs.

Here, select a program from the dropdown, and set Power management mode = Prefer maximum performance.

Don’t set the Power management mode in Global settings to Prefer Maximum Performance. It will drastically increase power Consumption when the video card is idle. You don’t wanna drain your battery for nothing, do you?

Update your Graphics drivers

Optionally you can update your drivers to the latest version. In rare cases, faulty old drivers can bottleneck the whole system. So you should always keep your drivers up to date.

3. Check the BIOS/UEFI Settings

BIOS/UEFI settings can affect the performance of your laptop. In some laptops, the BIOS includes some safety features that caps performance on battery. You should check the BIOS for such settings on your laptop.

To access the BIOS on a Windows laptop, You need to press the BIOS key (set by the manufacturer) when the laptop is powering on. The most common keys include F10, F2, F12, F1, DEL, ESC, etc. You can also enter the BIOS via Windows 10’s advanced start menu recovery settings.

[GUIDE] How to Enter Bios Windows 10 very Easily & Quickly

After you enter the BIOS screen, look for any settings related to power, performance, and battery. If you find anything related to performance, change it to prefer performance. Then save everything & exit.

4. Reinstall Windows

If none of the above solutions worked, consider reinstalling windows. This may or may not fix the issue, but it makes sure that any bug in the OS isn’t responsible.

I’m still getting low FPS

Most cases of fps capping and performance drop can be fixed by following this guide. But if the problem still persists, you can try these methods reported by WindowsReport.

Or if your laptop runs slow only when plugged in, read this blog.

I’m Getting Low FPS when Plugged In

This is an unusual problem since Laptops are designed to maximize performance on AC power. Most often, It’s a misconfigured power plan slowing your computer down when plugged in. You can just reset the plans to fix this.

In some cases, a failing charger or battery may also cause these kinds of problems. We explained this in detail in another blog post.

Suggested: Why does my Laptop Runs Slow When Plugged In?.

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