Gaming on a Laptop while on Battery

Discussion in 'What Notebook Should I Buy?' started by CCz_Cataphract, Oct 11, 2018 at 5:05 PM.

  1. CCz_Cataphract

    CCz_Cataphract Notebook Deity

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    Hi All,

    I'm not sure this is the right forum for this discussion, but I thought I'd start asking here. There are some reviews that test this and comment on it - but most don't. I mean, how much you can game on a laptop while only on battery power.

    Before you ask - yes I know there is a significant performance hit because of running the laptop just on battery power - that it can't support the 120W+ that most laptops require with high power GPUs and CPUs to run without some kind of throttling, and that if they did run on full blast it would kill the battery quickly (both in terms of lifetime and runtime).

    I have a P34Gv2 and I've really enjoyed it. I typically would work while commuting and game at home and that worked fine. However, now I'm married and we have a baby on the way and the only time I have to game in the day is literally the 1.5 hours I spend each day sitting on the commuter train.

    There are some days I can sit by a plug and that's great. Most days though I can't, and many times the plugs are not active.

    I've spent the past year and a half playing with the Nintendo Switch. I've really appreciated the portability, playing Skyrim and Zelda while on the go. I'd like to be able to finish Mass Effect Andromeda and maybe play Civ 6 without stuttering.

    I know that I could set everything at lowest quality settings - I've had some fun playing around with Oldblivion or Freelancer on an old tablet over the years. But I'm ready to get a new computer and I'm wondering if there might be some sweet spot in machines where you can get enough juice to the GPU so that you can run on reasonable settings and enjoy the experience in semi-modern games.

    If the components are not too powerful natively and the battery is large (high capacity and amperage) I'm thinking that there could be such a sweet spot. I don't mean 100% of plugged in performance - but maybe an hour or two runtime at 50-75% isn't asking for too much? I've used ThrottleStop, overclocked, undervolted, etc.. so I know many tools that can help squeeze the most out of the hardware and I'm willing to sacrifice.

    I have tried Geforce Now but my internet connection is slow/intermittent LTE and bandwidth is limited.

    If anyone can give any suggestions, I'd appreciate it. Maybe it means giving up on getting a 1060/2060 type GPU, I had high hopes of the new Kaby-Lake G but it's still quite power intensive. I'd rather now be limited to standard integrated performance if possible.

    I looked into getting an external power pack, but often the output wattage decreases as the battery is depleted - so I don't know how long it would last even if I did go that route.

    Right now very few reviews give this sort of detail and use case - and just about any discussion on it results in a message saying "Don't do it" or "Plug it in, plug it in." I know there are limitations - I'm just trying to see what's possible.

    Thanks very much,
    Peter
     
  2. Blacky

    Blacky Notebook Prophet

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    Hi,

    You basically want a gaming laptop with a very large battery.
    Yeah, I can find that for you, here you go: noteb search.
    Unfortunately, the option to search laptops by battery capacity is rarely used, but this time it came in handy. Also, to conserve power, you might want to restrict resolution to no larger than FullHD.
    You can see and change the search parameters using the "Refine results" button in the upper-left part of the search results page. You can also click on the laptops for more information.

    If you really want to stick to the GTX 1060, and you should if you want to get longer gaming sessions, consider the MSI GS65 or MSI Prestige P65. The Aero 15W might also be an option, but the Aero has cooling problems and keyboard issues.
    The MSI also has some thermal problems, but as serious. I would suggest to get one of the MSI from a reputable reseller, such as HidEvolution or XoticPC and opt for the thermal mod.
     
  3. CCz_Cataphract

    CCz_Cataphract Notebook Deity

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    Thanks Blacky.

    I had been looking at an Aero15X as my dream machine back when it came out some time ago. It doesn't have the keyboard issues as far as I know - but having a higher class GTX1070 doesn't help things in this perspective.

    I've been eyeing the GS63 and now GS65 for a year or so. The P65 Prestige is just a literally white paint job to make the gaming model "sanitized" for work use - as if someone might mistake it for an Apple I guess? :p This review for the GS65 states: "Important note for gamers: 3D performance drops by around 60% on battery. We checked this with The Witcher 3."- Which isn't too bad. They were testing with a MaxQ 1070, which literally is tempting me to order the 1060 from CA MS Store with my 10% education discount to test it out further. - https://www.notebookcheck.net/MSI-G...070-Max-Q-Full-HD-Laptop-Review.302998.0.html

    I just wish there was more data. Aside from one article on the subject (https://www.techspot.com/article/1571-gaming-laptop-battery-performance/) which showed a closer to 75% drop for a full GTX1060 Laptop on battery, that's the only data of this type I have. And the above review doesn't give details of how long the test was run on the GS64 or how long the battery was able to last at such usage/performance - it may be that was run at 100% battery and when it's 50% the amperage drops and the performance nosedives.

    I have been holding off on getting a new laptop for years really. My P34Gv2 screen went bad so I couldn't use it when portable some time ago. I almost got an updated 970M model of it, but a few weeks later the 10 series came out and I thought I'd hold out for the next gen. I contented myself using a Lenovo 950 laptop from work, but when I found the performance of 1050 in it was still worse than the P34Gv2's 3 year old GTX860M I gave up.

    I have no plans to go more than FHD, I'm quite happy with that resolution especially for battery life/gaming performance.

    Doing some math from the benchmark results: Mass Effect Andromeda at 48 fps on a 1060, -10% for 1060 MaxQ, -40% for battery = 26 fps on Ultra 1080p.

    I suppose that's acceptable to me - on High I should be able to get 30 fps in that use case - assuming the 40% drop noted on with the 1070 scales down as such to the 1060 (I'm hoping it would be a slightly lesser hit).

    I had been hoping to hold out for 2060s, but I do see nVidia pushing the mobile release forward to CES 2019, and I know if I wait like that the baby will be in school before I buy anything.

    Thanks,
    Peter






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    Last edited: Oct 13, 2018 at 8:19 AM
  4. Blacky

    Blacky Notebook Prophet

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    I think you need to look at the models a bit more in-depth, but the reality of it is that you don't have a lot of options.
    It's all about performance per watt, you want the video card with the best performance per watt. If you get the GTX 1070, it will be faster but also drain your battery faster, or it will perform the same as say a GTX 1060 and drain the battery in the same way.

    I hope I making sense.
     
  5. CCz_Cataphract

    CCz_Cataphract Notebook Deity

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    Thanks Blacky.

    I appreciate your response and I understand what you are saying - and when plugged in, that's true. But when mobile gaming (on battery) it isn't necessarily true - there are more factors that come into play.

    When plugged in the main barrier is heat - when on battery, the main barrier is power.

    There isn't much research into this, most users are put down for asking. My whole question is basically what the best possible maintainable real world performance when mobile gaming. I don't think it's necessarily with a 1070 over a 1060 or any other particular GPU based on performance per watt.

    The Aero 15X (i7-8750H/1070MaxQ) for example when running a game uses between 91 to 173 W depending on combined CPU and GPU load.

    The battery on the Aero 15X is 15.2V * 6.2Ah = 94.24 Wh. So the best potential for this - assuming 15.2V as nominal/close to average voltage, is it could give a little more than the 91W minimum for about 1 hour. However the battery can't maintain that load continuously, so the OEM has set up various power restrictions/throttling to prevent it from dying so quickly.

    But that's just theoretical, I'm really asking about real world performance.

    This review gives very vague information for the Aero15X - that the user was able to play Deus Ex: Mankind Divided for 79 minutes at "acceptable frame rates" until the system shut down - https://techreport.com/review/33401/gigabyte-aero-15xv8-gaming-notebook-reviewed/3

    For a 1080 MaxQ laptop - here: "Unplugging it from the mains drops the framerate in CS:GO from 300fps down to 12 fps." - https://topnewreview.com/asus-rog-zephyrus-gx501-review/

    So based on that - literally, the performance on battery with a GTX1080 Max Q laptop is worse than with Intel Integrated Graphics from 2015 (https://www.notebookcheck.net/Counter-Strike-Global-Offensive-Benchmarked.81183.0.html). Because that graphics and CPU solution only uses 2W, it can run at full power even when unplugged. Which shows just how inefficient the battery throttling is on newer systems, to the extent that the integrated (Optimus) graphics could outperform the system when it's forcing the GPU to be used in a power throttle state.

    Even though the performance per watt may be better when plugged in - if the battery can't supply it (or the manufacturer restricted it) then the performance may be worse than some low level GPU like a GT940 in the same situation.

    Screen size/brightness can play a role in all this since it's eating up more power.

    I started this thread looking to try to find out what the sweet spot is to give the best gaming performance while on battery. Getting the highest powered graphics card because it's got the best performance per watt won't help.

    Maybe some low powered GPU in a laptop with a high volt/amp battery combined with a low powered by high performing CPU may be the answer. I was kind of hoping to start that discussion and maybe we can collect some real world data points.

    Does what I'm saying make sense?

    Thanks very much,
    Peter
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2018 at 9:24 AM
  6. Blacky

    Blacky Notebook Prophet

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    It does make sense what you say, but I think you misunderstood my point because that's exactly what I was saying. That getting the GTX 1070 might give you lower gaming performance and shorter battery life than a GTX 1060. What I was suggesting is to look at the chip that has the best performance per watt from Nvidia, how that chip is implemented it's a whole different story, but I think that is a good starting point.

    If you look here: https://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/NVIDIA/GeForce_RTX_2080_Founders_Edition/34.html , the best performance per watt is offered by the GTX 1050Ti.
    And here you can cross-reference the desktop chips with their mobile versions: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GeForce_10_series

    From this perspective, you should be getting either a GTX 1050Ti or a GTX 1070 in your laptop. You may also improve your battery life by limiting voltages and clocks under battery.
     
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