For months, my Lenovo Yoga C940 laptop seemed to be playing tricks on me.
One moment the screen would be pleasantly bright, but switching to anything with a dark background caused a gradual decrease in contrast, giving the screen an almost dingy look. I could even see the change happening while switching between applications, as if some automatic brightness setting was constantly going wrong, but the Windows settings menu didn’t offer any obvious solutions.
But in the end I found the source of the problem. Tucked away in recent Intel-powered Windows laptops is a program called Intel Graphics Command Center, which contains a sprawling array of virtual buttons and dials to customize the look of your laptop̵
My Lenovo Yoga is not the only Windows laptop with this kind of problem. As a laptop reviewer for PCWorld, I’ve also encountered auto-brightness issues with several other Lenovo laptops, and with the Razer Book 13. If you’re experiencing auto-brightness issues on your Windows laptop, this might be the solution you’re looking for.
In any case, Intel’s Graphics Command Center app is worth checking out. By playing with the different color and contrast options, you can make your laptop’s screen look better than it did out of the box.
Fix problems with Windows auto-brightness
To launch the Intel Graphics Command Center app in Windows 10, click the Start button and type Intel, which should bring up Graphics Command Center as the first option. You can also find it by scrolling down to the “I” section in your alphabetical app list.
When you first launch the app, Intel advertises some gaming-related features. Just ignore these and select the System tab in the left sidebar (or, if the app is running in a small window, the icon that looks like four squares). At the top of the screen, select the tab that says Power.
To prevent your laptop from changing the contrast levels on its own, look in the Power Settings section and change the Energy Efficiency Level to 1.
You can also disable all energy efficiency settings in this menu, along with the Dynamic refresh rate switching or Extend battery life for gaming options at the top, but I’ve found it simple enough to reduce the aggressiveness of Intel’s image visibility slider.
Will changing these settings drain your laptop’s battery? Not at all. In fact, my testing found that lowering Intel’s power efficiency settings resulted in a increase in terms of battery life.
My first test involved looping the open source 4K video Tears of Steel-same video we use in PCWorld’s battery exhaustion test – at maximum brightness with no sound on my Lenovo Yoga C940. With Intel’s Power Efficiency setting at default level 4, the laptop lasted 10 hours and 36 minutes. With the Power Efficiency set to level 1, the laptop lasted 10 hours and 53 minutes.
I also made a video of my own to simulate the kind of contrast fluctuations that bothered me so much to begin with. This video captured my desktop screen as it alternated between light and dark backgrounds every 10 seconds. In that test, the laptop ran for 11 hours and 9 minutes on Intel’s standard Power Efficiency level 4, but lasted a whopping 12 hours and 46 minutes with Power Efficiency level 1.
Increasing the power efficiency level would reduce image quality and thus extend battery life, but in my case the opposite was true. While your mileage may vary by laptop and use case, it’s safe to say that Intel’s power-efficiency software doesn’t significantly improve battery life. It can even be counterproductive.
PCWorld contacted Intel for comment and received this statement: “Intel Display Power Saving Technology (DPST) reduces power consumption on mobile PCs by reducing the backlight of the laptop panel while preserving the quality of the screen. Users can use this effect on notice the work when switching between applications and media in battery mode. Our OEM partners may change the default behavior for DPST at their discretion. On some mobile PCs, DPST may be disabled in Intel graphics settings. Over time, we will we continue to improve the performance of DPST to deliver better mobile experiences.”
Adjust the color and contrast of your laptop laptop
While you’re viewing the Intel Graphics Command Center app, take a moment to visit the Display tab (or click the computer monitor icon when the app is running in a small window). From here click on the Color tab and you will see a menu for adjusting the brightness, contrast, hue and saturation of your display.
Before you start making adjustments, click the Customization button at the top to create a new color profile and give the profile a name. Now try making adjustments to the brightness, contrast, hue and saturation levels in this menu. Switching the All colours The brightness and contrast option also allows you to adjust individual color intensities.
I’ve found that less is more, and that just a few minor tweaks can make a big difference to the way your screen looks. If you ever want to restore your computer’s built-in settings, click the Standard box at the top of this menu.
The Intel Graphics Command Center app has a number of other options, such as a video-specific menu for image settings, a recording tool, and the ability to set hotkeys for screen rotation. You can safely avoid these, as none of them are nearly as useful as the app’s power settings and color options.
To be clear, none of these settings are new. Intel Graphics Command Center was launched a few years ago as an evolution of Intel’s old graphics control panel. Intel says it should be much easier to use and understand.
Unfortunately, Intel and PC vendors seem to have gotten a little carried away in their zeal for better battery life, preloading laptops with power management settings that do more harm than good. If you’re starting to suspect that your own laptop is playing tricks on you, turning those settings back may be the solution.