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How Much Power Does a Laptop Use?

Laptops are powerful devices, which each model varying in how much power it might use. If you’ve picked up a laptop or are using yours often and wondering how much electricity it will take, it’s hard to provide an exact estimate without knowing the exact computer. However, there are averages we can base a rough estimate on.

Laptops, on average, use between 30 to 70 watts of power. Larger computers and high-power gaming laptops could use as much as 200 to 500. You can use a watt meter to find out exactly how much power your computer is using by plugging your power adapter into it for reading.

Let’s take a closer look at how many watts a laptop uses, as well as whether it uses more power than a desktop, how to calculate the amount of energy it’s using, and which laptops use more power than others.

How Many Watts Does a Laptop Use?

Charging laptop with power adapter in electrical socket on wooden table

Laptops use 30 to 70 watts of power per hour on average. However, this average will very much depend on the laptop itself. Some laptops, like Chromebooks, are designed to use less power.

In contrast, other laptops that are used for high-performance projects and photo/video-editing software will be in the higher range of the spectrum and may have wattages that go into the hundreds.

Laptops vs. Desktops: Which Consumes More Power?

It very much depends on the laptop and the desktop. A weak desktop, for example, may use only 150 watts of power, whereas a high-end gaming laptop could be using 300.

On average, though, desktops will use more than laptops as they tend to be higher-powered machines. This is especially true if the laptop in question doesn’t have a very powerful processor and if the desktop is a fairly modern version.

How to Calculate the Amount of Energy Your Laptop Uses

The only truly accurate way to measure how much energy your laptop uses is a watt meter. 

Plug the watt meter into a wall socket and then plug in your laptop’s power adapter. Connect the adapter to the laptop and then read how much it’s using! This may also be dependent on what the laptop is doing at the time (e.g., running Microsoft Office will be using less power than running World of Warcraft or Adobe Photoshop).

Do Certain Types of Laptops Use More Power?

Yes! How much power your laptop uses will very much depend on the type of laptop it is.

Some laptops are designed for portability, and with this comes a sacrifice of power. They aren’t capable of running larger programs and are mostly made for streaming services, browsing the internet, and chatting with family and friends. Chromebooks are a good example of this.

These laptops won’t use much power because they aren’t built to do it. This is perfect for people who aren’t looking for a high-performance machine, as they’re usually more affordable too.

Other laptops will use up much more power. These are usually the pricer machines that are used for gaming and projects like developing software or even heavy video and photo editing. 

Should You Keep Your Laptop Plugged in While Using It?

Plug in Adapter power cord charger of laptop computer On wooden

It’s best to use a balanced approach when it comes to using your laptop plugged in vs. on battery. The main reason is that if you plug your laptop in constantly, it’s been proven that the battery health will deplete faster. If your laptop is at 100%, the performance of the battery overall will degrade, and you’ll find that you have to pay to replace it.

When you can, it’s best to unplug the laptop and use it on battery. Batteries last longer overall when they’re kept at a partially-charged state as much as possible, so charging it up to around 80% and then using it off the charger until it gets down to around 20% is optimal.

However, if you do leave your laptop plugged in for a couple of days, that’s completely fine and shouldn’t influence things too much in the long run.

How Do I Keep an Eye on My Battery Health?

There are apps and programs you can download that will let you know how your battery health is. When you first buy the laptop, your battery health will start off at 100% and will slowly degrade over time. When it starts hitting the 70-80% mark, you’ll want to start thinking about getting it replaced.

How Do I Make My Battery Last Longer?

So if you want to keep your laptop on battery longer to keep the power optimal, it’s a good idea to know the things that can decrease the battery life. 

The first thing is the brightness. If your screen is turned on at the highest brightness, this can be one of the huge things that quickly decreases the battery life.

Bring the brightness down to the lowest point you can stand, or have auto-brightness on where your laptop should adjust to the external light if your computer has this setting.

Secondly, you should make sure no apps are running in the background that you aren’t using. When you’re finished with a program, and it no longer needs to be open, close it down. The more programs you’re running, the more your battery life will be drained.

Lastly, some laptops have a built-in power saver mode that will prevent unnecessary things from running in the background. You can check in your settings if your laptop has this.

Should You Shut Down Your Laptop When It’s Not in Use?

Many people just close the lid of their laptop and don’t actually shut it down when it’s not in use, but this isn’t optimal for the laptop. Laptops have a very limited lifespan of a few years, and this lifespan will get increasingly shorter if the components are constantly in use. Even when your laptop is in sleep mode, it’s still being used in a sense, just waiting to wake up.

This doesn’t mean you have to shut off your laptop all the time and can never put it into sleep mode, but shutting it off also gives it a chance to rest and reset. At the very least, it’s good to shut your laptop down once a week.

How to Reduce Power Consumption on a Laptop

Some of the ways you can reduce power consumption on a laptop include the ways to make the battery life last longer, such as reducing the brightness and ensuring no programs are running in the background. However, if every watt counts, there are a few more things you can do, such as the following.

Unplug the Computer When Not in Use

Even though it’s best to use the laptop on battery, you’ll have to plug it in to charge sometimes. The moment it’s charged up, you should unplug the computer, as otherwise it will be left in and will gently use more power.

Detach External Devices

If you have a lot of external devices plugged into your computer, you should detach them when not in use. These may include:

Get an Energy Star-Certified Laptop

Some laptops are energy-star certified, which means they use up to 40% less power. This is huge for people who want to be conscious of the power they may be using.

Overall, it’s impossible to tell exactly how much power your laptop uses unless you plug it into a watt meter (on Amazon). However, it’s safe to say it’s probably not as much as a desktop computer (unless you’re running a huge gaming laptop) and usually lands between 30 and 70 watts.