How to fix Chrome browser battery life (timer tick) problem

July 23, 2014 By | Add a Comment

The web browser is now an indispensable application for many people and the majority of us open our browser application of choice as soon as we boot our computer up, and keep it open until we shut the computer down.

For laptop PC users, it is very important that the web browser does not waste battery, both when it is active and when it is idle.

Unfortunately, as Ian Morris mentioned in his blog, Google Chrome for Windows is notorious for wasting battery power when it is idle because it forces a short timer tick interval.

This article explains how to fix this problem and answers several questions you may have about the Chrome timer tick problem.

How to Fix the Chrome Timer Tick Problem

If you are looking for the quick solution for this problem, please just follow the simple instruction below:

  1. Download and install Battery Life Maximizer.
  2. After installing the program, close all Chrome windows that are already open and then open new Chrome window.
  3. Popup message is shown when Battery Life Maximizer detects Chrome trying to change timer tick interval
    Warning pop-up for timer tick change

    Within a minute or two, Battery Life Maximizer will detect the timer tick interval change request from Chrome and a balloon message will pop up.

    By default, Battery Life Maximizer automatically enables the power saving action and therefore fixes the problem for you. You don't need to do anything at all. However, the Chrome window you opened in the previous step was started before the power saving action was enabled. As such, the damage (setting shorter timer tick interval) has already been done at this point. To rectify this, simply close all existing Chrome windows once again and open a new window. Battery Life Maximizer will now automatically takes care of the timer tick interval change requests from Chrome and you can enjoy a longer battery life.

You can also override Battery Life Maximizer's presets if you wish to tailor the tick speed to your own requirements.

Chrome requests a 1.0 msec timer tick interval (1000 timer tick per second, which has significant impact on battery life). By default, Battery Life Maximizer replaces this request with a 10.0 msec interval (100 timer tick per second, which has much less impact on battery life). If you are looking to gain further power savings, you can instruct Battery Life Maximizer to completely ignore Chrome's request and allow Windows to run the timer tick at the default interval, which is 15.6 msec. You can do this by performing the following steps:

  1. Open Battery Life Maximizer window and select “Battery Life Problems” page.
  2. Figure 2. Google Chrome problem listed in the Battery Life Maximizer problem list
    Chrome problem in the problem list

    Expand “Fixed or dismissed problems” group and double click the problem whose “Problem Location” column is “Google Chrome;” to open the detailed dialog box.

  3. You can choose how to handle the timer tick interval change request
    Choose how to handle the request

    In the dialog box, move the slider to choose the option you require. By moving the slider to the bottom (selecting “Ignore request”) as shown below, all timer tick interval change requests from Chrome will be blocked and Windows will not change the timer tick interval.

Timer Tick FAQ

Q1: Why does a short timer tick interval drain laptop battery?

When the CPU is idle (no program to run), it automatically enters a low-power mode. However, the CPU will be activated (exit low-power mode) upon every timer tick in order to check if there is any program to run. If there is nothing to run, it will return to a low-power mode.

Modern CPUs implement multiple levels of low-power modes. When the CPU remains in the low-power mode for a longer duration without interruption, it will go into deeper low-power mode. If an application program, such as Chrome, requests a shorter timer tick interval, the CPU can only ever enter the shallow low-power mode. Put simply, imagine you have a baby that wakes you up every thirty minutes. Your sleep will be much shallower than if you were able to get many hours of uninterrupted sleep. This is exactly what happens to your CPU and, as a direct result, it loses power much more quickly.

Q2: Chrome does not seem to be using much CPU time when it is idle. Is it really draining my battery?

Yes. This problem is not related to how much CPU time Chrome uses, it is concerned with the amount of power the CPU is able to preserve when it is idle. A short timer tick interval activates the CPU more frequently and therefore prevents the CPU from entering deeper power saving mode.

Q3: Is Chrome the only program that changes timer tick interval?

No. There are, unfortunately, many other programs that behave in the same manner. For example, some IP phone applications, which usually keep running in the background waiting for an incoming call, initiate a request to change the timer tick interval when they start up and keep that request until they are terminated (even if you are not making a call).

I won't list the names of those programs here, but you can easily find out which applications are draining your battery power when you run Battery Life Maximizer on your computer.

Q4: Why do programs change timer tick interval and what happens if they are ignored?

High-quality media applications that run with very little buffering (for better real-time response) might need shorter timer tick intervals to avoid glitches.

However, with the majority of regular applications, the difference is subtle and most people will not notice.

Other battery life topics related to web browsing

This article explained how to minimize battery power drain when Chrome is idle.

The following articles explain how to minimize battery power drain when you are actively browsing the web:

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