Screenshot of Windows Power Options with only Balanced on a Surface

What to Do If You Can Not Create New Power Plans – Locked Down Windows

If your Ultrabook only has the Balanced (or HP) power plan, then it almost certainly means that you have a Microsoft Surface, or some similar device from another OEM. The good (and bad) news is that there is a registry hack to enable other power plans – the 3 default then and third-party ones (like Bitsum Highest Performance).

If you Google around, you will find registry hacks to let you restore the ability to create power plans and such; at least temporarily. However, you need to be extremely cautious with these hacks, as the system is designed this way because heat dissipation is otherwise very difficult. So – CAUTION. You might think you want a tweak, but you really don’t!

We have updated ParkControl in the coming days to handle these type systems.

We have found that performance can be improved, but is it detrimental to the device, or can the device run indefinitely at that load? These variables are unknown. Microsoft locked down the power plans for a good reason we think. Therefore a warning is being added and we are opting NOT to allow the creation of new power plans on these systems (they would be deleted anyway later in an OS update):

We have found that performance can be improved, but is it detrimental to the Surface hardware, or can the device run indefinitely at that load? These variables are unknown. Microsoft locked down the power plans on this *particular* hardware for a good reason, thus we recommend NOT using any of the registry tweaks you find on the web.

Note that we have not seen any other device where the power plans are locked down by the OS like this. Have you? If so, let us know below!

  • libtarded

    I believe these have been locked down in the latest Surfaces because of newer “on board” Intel CPU power management mechanisms. Before, the OS would make CPU state decisions based on performance over 100s of milliseconds– where the new CPUs and import a performance policy from the OS, then make decisions on a much smaller timeslice (like 1/10th of the time). This results in more efficient shifting of P&C states. There are actually dozens of parameters that can be tuned in this policy, and it may be in your best interest to research them and apply them specifically to the newer processors.

  • That is true, and we are researching the vast array of ‘mysterious’ settings (be nice to find comprehensive documentation!). However, this power plan ‘lock’ does NOT apply to other devices with this same model processor. I know, because I tested with a different Ultrabook (Lenovo Yoga 3 with i7-6), and it had full power plan support. So, they only locked down the Surface itself, thus I suspect it is more due to the design of this particular hardware, though certainly the more intelligent CPU was a factor in their decision I am sure.

    What worries me is people ‘tweaking’ around this, as I really think it should not be done since the lock is imposed. On any system where there is no lock, I’m happy to recommend our custom power plan or others, but in this unusual situation, I have to recommend staying with what the OS tries to force upon you.

  • Thanks for sharing that info !

  • For posterity, this change started pre-KabyLake (Skylake). I’ve later encountered HP ultrabooks that have a locked down power plan, named after HP of course.

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