More power, less consumption – this is how energy-efficient PC gaming works

More power, less consumption – this is how energy-efficient PC gaming works

New gaming laptops and PCs offer ever-increasing performance, but they don't necessarily have to consume more power: A range of technologies and software features ensure increased energy efficiency in systems with AMD chips. So you can use them optimally and reduce power consumption.

This article was created in cooperation with AMD.

Saving energy is very important today – for reasons of cost and environmental protection. Increasing the energy efficiency of PC and laptop components comes in handy. Efficiency can be looked at from two points of view. An action is more energy efficient if it:

  1. requires less energy for the same result or
  2. achieves a better result with the same energy consumption.

For you, more energy efficiency means: longer laptop battery life for performance-intensive applications or more power to solve tasks faster and better.

Frau spielt konzentiert am Laptop

Gaming should be fun, but the energy consumption shouldn't get out of hand. Image: © AMD 2022

Chip manufacturer AMD has been researching and working on improving the efficiency of processors (CPUs) and graphics cards (GPUs) for years. Today they use much less electricity for the same performance than just a few years ago. All the advances that the company has made in this area can be actively used if you have a laptop or PC equipped with AMD chips.

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Achieve greater energy efficiency – this is how it works

Maximum performance is often the highest goal, especially in gaming: The PC or laptop provides you with as much power as possible to make your game faster and more beautiful. The energy consumption is initially employed at the back.

But you have the choice to shift the priority to optimize your battery life or your power consumption. The more energy-efficient your device is, the less image quality you lose. You can achieve this with the right settings in the game and a few helpful software tools and technologies from AMD.

Longer runtime thanks to fixed frame rate

To use less energy, you should limit the frame rate . Most other measures are also based on this. Because: An energy-efficient system initially provides you with more images per second with the same power consumption. However, the battery is empty just as quickly as with a less efficient system. If you want to use less power, you have to rein in the performance.

You can use this extra efficiency by limiting your frame rate to 30 or 60 frames per second, depending on the game. The frame rate should be higher for fast games such as racing games and shooters, but it can also be 30 frames per second for slow games such as graphic adventures. If your monitor supports 120 Hertz, frame rates of 40 or 60 frames per second make sense. A monitor with AMD FreeSync or VRR ("Variable Refresh Rate" = variable refresh rate) ensures a gaming experience without image tearing. In the notebook sector, there are devices like the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 that combine 120 Hertz and a variable frame rate of the monitor.

A lower frame rate puts less strain on your graphics card and CPU, allowing them to work more efficiently. A lot of energy is often lost for a relatively small increase in performance, especially in the limit range of full load.

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Scaled resolution for less power consumption

After the frame rate is limited, your components can still run at the limit depending on the performance class and game requirements. The best way to improve this is to reduce the resolution . There are two set screws:

On the one hand there is the output resolution, i.e. the question of how many pixels have to be displayed on the monitor. If you want to save power, it shouldn't be higher than what your monitor displays natively. The "AMD Advantage" gaming notebook Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 , for example, has 2,560 x 1,600 pixels. Halved resolutions still look good in some games, in the example 1280×800 pixels.

AMD's open-source upscaling technology FSR 2 ("FidelityFX Super Resolution"), which can be used by any games developer, offers the second adjustment screw for reducing the resolution to be calculated. It ensures that the graphics card is less stressed by letting the compatible game calculate at a lower resolution and then using algorithms to upscale it to the screen's resolution. Information from previous frames and motion information are combined to "predict" the missing pixels. This enables enormous increases in performance with often very small visual losses. Even weaker graphics chips that consume less energy can display games sharper.

You can therefore achieve high resolutions much more efficiently: a game in 2,560×1,600 pixels with FSR 2 looks hardly any different than one without FSR 2 in the same resolution, but runs much faster – or with less performance overhead for the graphics card.

More power where it is needed: AMD SmartShift Eco

SmartShift Eco sorgt für optimale Energieverteilung im Akkubetrieb.

SmartShift Eco ensures optimal energy distribution in battery mode. Image: © AMD 2022

When gaming, both the CPU and GPU are heavily loaded. However, the load is often not even. In laptop systems with AMD Advantage infrastructure , the SmartShift Eco feature ensures that the energy reserves are distributed intelligently – in such a way that the component that is more heavily loaded gets the energy that the other does not currently need. This brings more performance or, if the set frame rate has already been reached, savings in consumption.

You can set the limits for performance and power consumption yourself. If you disconnect the power supply from the laptop, SmartShift Eco becomes active. Thanks to the clever energy management, you can play for up to twice as long in battery mode .

ECO mode for good power savings with little loss of performance

Current CPUs from all manufacturers are optimized to tease out the last bit of performance and give you as much power as possible. However, this is not always optimal in terms of power consumption. AMD gives you useful tools here to shift this priority and save energy. As a side effect you also get a cooler system. The magic word: eco fashion.

Scrennshot der AMD Software Ryzen Master.

With Ryzen Master, the Eco Mode of the CPU can be easily activated. Picture:

The Eco Mode reduces the maximum power consumption of the processor. It sounds like a loss of performance at first, but in practice it is small: With the original power consumption, CPUs are usually in a range in which the extra performance is largely only converted into heat. Forcing the processor out of this limit range results in a significantly cooler and more economical CPU with an acceptable loss of performance.

You can activate the Eco Mode in different ways. You have the most control over activation via the computer's bios. But this is more of a way for advanced users.

It is much easier and direct from Windows with the AMD software " Ryzen Master ". It offers even more optimization options and an overview of values such as temperature and processor load, but also integrates a large "Eco Mode" button. After activation, it lights up green, signaling the energy-saving mode.

For Pros: Undervolting via PBO 2 and Radeon Adrenaline drivers

Even more savings potential with sometimes even more power can be achieved with undervolting. An explicit warning: undervolting is something for experienced users and, in contrast to all other measures mentioned, can lead to system instability or, in extreme cases, even damage.

CPUs and GPUs are now operated with variable clock rates, which fluctuate greatly depending on the load, temperature and power limit. A voltage is stored for each clock rate, with a lower clock the chip works with less voltage. The values are chosen in such a way that stable operation is possible despite naturally occurring fluctuations in the production quality from chip to chip. If you string these values together, you get a clock-voltage curve.

Screenshot des AMD Adrenaline Treibers mit den Einstellungen zum GPU-Tuning.

Undervolting is a powerful, but not entirely harmless, power-saving measure. Image: © AMD 2022

With undervolting, you shift this curve so that there is less voltage for a given beat. Because many chips would also get by with less voltage – but that's a matter of luck, which is why insiders also speak of the "chip lottery". With undervolting , you adapt the voltage to the actual needs of the chip . Since the chip runs cooler with less voltage, an increase in performance can even be achieved in the extreme range because it can clock higher without hitting temperature or performance limits.

You can achieve undervolting for the CPU either via Ryzen Master or via the Bios. AMD's "PBO 2" is used here, i.e. the second generation of "Precision Boost Overclocking", which allows adjustment of the clock-voltage curve in both directions and for each individual CPU core. With GPUs, undervolting works almost identically. For example, you can easily use AMD's own "Adrenaline" driver, which has the function integrated.

AMD invests in energy efficiency

AMD set itself ambitious goals for energy efficiency years ago. This includes the "25 by 20" initiative , with which the group was able to increase the efficiency of its own notebook processors by more than 25 times between 2014 and 2020. Such goals are achieved with the help of the tools and features mentioned above, but also through new processes in the production of processors and graphics cards. Of course, you also benefit from them with AMD hardware – even without having to make any settings on the system.


  • Energy efficiency means using less energy for the same result or getting a better result with the same consumption.
  • In order to use the better energy efficiency for less consumption or longer battery life, you have various adjustment screws and tools at your disposal.
  • Capping the frame rate is the most important step in making gaming more energy efficient.
  • A lower output resolution helps to reduce the load on the graphics card, FSR 2 also supports by upscaling lower internal resolutions.
  • AMD SmartShift Eco helps AMD Advantage laptops put energy to better use where it's most needed: in the CPU or GPU.
  • The Eco Mode limits the power consumption of the CPU and thus saves a lot of energy with little loss of performance.
  • Undervolting carries risks and is only recommended for advanced users, but it has the potential to save on CPU and GPU consumption and sometimes even increase performance.
  • AMD has been working successfully on increasing efficiency for years and has developed various hardware and software solutions for this.

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