Optimizing power consumption on an OLED laptop

I spent some time optimizing my Linux laptop (Thinkpad X1 Yoga 1st gen) for power usage and the results were a dramatic improvement in battery life. One of the most amazing features of this laptop is the absolutely beautiful OLED display. Since OLEDs only consume power when emitting light, showing a white screen takes much more power than a dark screen. I used ‘powertop’ to help optimize my ubuntu 18.04 system as much as possible and ran it in two runs with a full battery. The _only_ difference between the two was one running in a maximized xterm with a white background and the other was running in a maximized xterm with a black background. Here are the results next to each other.

The change was dramatic. almost a 15 hour battery lifetime with a black background vs a 4 and a half hour one with a white background. Since I spend 90% of my time in a full screen xterm or vim window with black background this translates into the longest practical battery life I have ever gotten out of a laptop. For some reason Lenovo has discontinued the OLED option, but they can still be found second hand.

(the irony of my web site having a white background is not lost on me. I need to spend some time fixing that.)

full screenshots so you can see there are no shenanigans.

Comments 1

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