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How Many Watts Does a Laptop Use? Do They Consume Lots of Power?

laptop on wooden table

If you constantly use a laptop or several laptops at your business, it’s normal to wonder how high the devices spike your power bills. Understanding the amount of power laptops use can also help you make an informed decision when comparing a desktop vs. a laptop.

Laptops are energy efficient and can run on a full battery for three to four hours. While they typically use between 50 and 150 watts per hour, the precise power a device consumes will depend on several factors.

These factors include the screen size, graphic capabilities, processor used, etc. A 14–15 inch laptop plugged directly to power will consume 60 watts per hour on average.

Dive in for comprehensive information about laptop wattage. Whether you want to swap from using a desktop or merely wish to be more aware of your gadget’s average power consumption, we will equip you with the facts you need.

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Do Laptops Consume Lots of Power?

It’s hard to give a precise figure of the number of watts a laptop consumes per hour. While some devices use as little as 50 watts, others consume up to 150 watts hourly, depending on their screen size, setting configuration, hardware components, and even the software applications in use.

The overall power consumption of your laptop will increase if you have a bigger screen size or run several programs simultaneously. Also, the number of hours you use the device will dictate how high it will drive up your utility bills. Using your laptop for 8 hours daily can consume between 400 and 1,200 watts daily.

Here are some of the popular laptop models and their average power consumption.

Laptop Model Watts
Apple MacBook (13 to14 inch) 60 to 100W
MacBook Pro (16 inch) Up to 140W
Google Chromebook 45 to 60W
Notebook 20 to 100W
Microsoft Surface 20 to 60W
Gaming Laptop 200 to 400W
Desktop computer 300 to 350W
man working on laptop
Image By: lukasbieri, Pixabay

Factors Influencing the Power Consumption of a Laptop

Numerous factors may influence how much wattage your laptop consumes per hour. For instance, gaming laptops tend to be more power-hungry than their regular counterparts. Some reasons behind requiring more wattage are the number of programs running and the need for high-quality visuals.

Here are some of the main factors that can affect the number of watts your laptop will use.

Screen Size

A laptop with a larger screen size will use more wattage per hour. For instance, a device with a 14- or 15-inch screen will require about 60 watts per hour, while a 17-inch laptop of similar specs can consume as much as 70 to 90 watts per hour. Some larger models can even consume as much as 150 watts per hour.

Screen Resolution

Screens supporting higher-resolution displays tend to consume more electricity and GPU computational power. These screens require more processing power to display crisp, clear images with more pixels per inch. Your laptop will also use more wattage per hour when using higher screen brightness settings.

Fortunately, there are ways to boost your laptop’s battery life, even if the device can support high-resolution displays. Depending on the laptop model, you can switch to a lower resolution and adjust the screen brightness to improve battery life and reduce the amount of wattage used daily.

A high resolution is unnecessary if you merely use your machine for typical office duties and web browsing. Switching to lower settings reduces the CPU’s workload and consequently lowers the machine’s power consumption.

GPU

A graphics card or an integrated graphics processing unit enhances a laptop’s visual displays. Improved visuals are necessary when gaming or handling complex tasks like video editing, game development, and 3D rendering. While the enhanced visuals will make your laptop run smoothly, the machine will consume higher wattage.

Generally, the better your laptop’s graphic performance, the deeper you must dig into your wallet when setting monthly power bills. Integrated graphics processing units are typically less powerful and can consume between 25 and 80 watts. Dedicated graphics cards, especially the advanced varieties designed to have high-end graphics processing capabilities, can consume as much as 200 watts per hour.

man checking his investments on his laptop
Image Credit: Windows, Unsplash

Adapter

Adapters consume vampire energy. Larger laptops have more powerful adapters that consume more vampire energy when plugged into power. For instance, a 15-inch laptop will have a 65 watt adapter, while a 17-inch laptop features a 90 watt adapter. The latter will consume more vampire energy.

Leaving your charger unplugged can consequently have an impact on the overall electricity consumption of your laptop. The charger will still consume small amounts of power as long as it’s plugged into an outlet. While an adaptor doesn’t use much power when left plugged in, it can still rack up your monthly utility bill.

CPU

The processor or Central Processing Unit (CPU) provides the processing power and instructions your laptop needs to perform various tasks. A powerful CPU allows your computer to think and work faster. When you combine a powerful CPU with a bigger RAM, your laptop will have a bigger workbench, ensuring faster processing of different tasks.

A powerful CPU can ensure your laptop is more energy efficient and does not heat up. However, this does not guarantee it will not consume more wattage than a machine with an inferior CPU. It may consume more power but will be optimized to be energy efficient. Think of it as a car engine that performs better on less gas.

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How to Calculate a Laptop’s Power Consumption

There are various methods of calculating the wattage your computer needs to run.

First, you can use apps like Local Cooling and Open Hardware Monitor that collect real-time power consumption data from monitor voltages, clock and fan speeds, and temperature sensors. Secondly, you can gather wattage readings using online tools like Power Supply Calculator and OuterVision calculator.

For more accurate calculations of your laptop’s power consumption, use a power meter. Plug the device into a power outlet, then plug your laptop on top. The power meter will provide wattage readings in real-time, allowing you to check how much power your machine drains when performing different operations.

 Tips for Cutting the Energy Usage of Your Laptop

  • Always use your laptop’s original charger
  • Only charge your laptop for the recommended number of hours
  • Charge the device before the battery is fully drained
  • Use the lowest possible display brightness and resolution settings
  • Shut down your laptop for a few minutes if it overheats
  • Promptly replace damaged hardware that can be causing overheating
  • Hibernate your machine when not using it for more than a few minutes
  • Shutdown your laptop when not in use for extended periods instead of switching to sleep mode

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Frequently Asked Questions

An average laptop consumes 50 watts when running essential functions like spreadsheets, word, and browsing online. However, the wattage needed can increase to 150 or more when running intensive tasks. Here are frequently asked questions by laptop owners.

closed laptop on workstation
Image Credit: ricardorv30, Pixabay

How Many Watts Does a Gaming Laptop Consume?

Gaming laptops are more potent than regular machines. They also feature an integrated graphics processing unit or a graphics card for faster speeds and better image resolution. Generally, these laptops can consume between 120 and 200 watts an hour. Power consumption can increase when using more advanced graphic cards for a more intense gaming experience.

How Many Watts Does My Laptop Consume per Hour?

The number of watts your laptop consumes per hour depends on various factors, including its make, components, and the intensity of your tasks. For a more accurate average, check the power rating of a machine before purchase. The power rating is the maximum power the device can consume. The laptop doesn’t have to be at peak power consumption for basic operations.

Desktop vs Laptop: Which One Consumes More Power?

Both desktop and laptop manufacturers put a high emphasis on energy efficiency. However, laptops are generally less power-hungry. Swapping from a desktop to a laptop can save you more than half your electricity bill. If you want to lower your monthly power bills, investing in a laptop is better.

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Final Thoughts

If a laptop consumes more watts, your power bill will rocket. High performance and impressive stats often guarantee more power and speed but a bigger electricity bill each month.

Between a laptop that consumes more watts per hour and another that consumes less, none is better or worse. The best way to avoid buyer’s regret is not to choose a machine with more power than you need. The idea is to save money by avoiding features contributing to wasteful power consumption.


Featured Image Credit: Engin_Akyurt, Pixabay

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