Weird Laptop Power Problem? Turn off Intel (R) Management Engine Interface?

Seriously, I’m asking.

Image of high-tension power lines at sunrise or sunset with a slightly pinkish sky fading to blue
Photo by Fré Sonneveld on Unsplash

I inherited a work computer recently. It is such a huge improvement over my old machine—SSD, more RAM, metal chassis, great keyboard—that I feel really lucky to get it at such a great price. It is really fast. It is a Toshiba Satellite E45t-A4200. It has a touchscreen which I still find weird to use. I’m too neurotic to put my greasy fingers on the screen. But that is probably a topic for another day.

When I got the computer the battery was performing at about 20% of original capacity. It could stay on for about an hour. That’s not the worst battery I’ve ever had but I wanted to replace it.  The battery was about $35. I installed it and was pleased that it worked and had about a 4-hour life when fully calibrated and charged. Super.

About a week later I noticed that the computer had gone to sleep and would not wake up. The only way to get it back on was to do a hard shutdown and then boot up. This is not the best thing to do to your system, and I don’t like when things don’t work the way they are supposed to. (Once again, a neurotic tendency best left to another day.)

This computer shipped with Windows 8 and has since been upgraded to Windows 10, a process which I have seen has had a tendency to break certain features. I had a Vista  machine that I upgraded to Windows 7 and that broke most of my function keys. Even after updated BIOS and all my drivers I never got those function keys back…

Anyhow, I didn’t really mind having to remember to shutdown when I was done computing, instead of just putting the computer on a table and forgetting about it like some kind of slovenly monster. But I will say the sleep function is kind of nice, generally speaking, for saving the battery. I checked all the sleep and power settings (Windows Button>Settings>System>Power and Sleep>Additional Settings) but for some reason the computer would just not wake up after it had gone to sleep.

Then the other night I did shut it down properly but it never really did. This computer has 3 LED’s on the front: power, wireless antenna, and plugged in/charging. There is also a light under the power button. In the morning I noticed that the power and wireless lights were on, as well as the power button. That was wrong.

I tried turning it on and it was stuck in that same sleep state. I held the power button until it shutdown, then powered it back on. It booted normally and seemed fine, but I was now considerably more concerned. This was a major malfunction!

I tried looking on the Toshiba website for any BIOS updates or system driver updates that mentioned battery or power management. There didn’t seem to be any and I was hesitant to start installing drivers like a haphazard idiot. You know what they say: If it ain’t broke update the drivers ’til it is.

That led me to that last refuge of the desperate-yet-enterprising technology user: reading threads online and sorting through the garbage that doesn’t have anything to do with your problem (or what you typed into Google) until you find something that kind of does. That process brought me to this thread.

Somewhere down past the middle someone mentions turning off the Intel (R) Management Engine Interface power management setting. I have no idea what this is but it kind of sounded like something that could interfere with power settings and sleep/shutdown processes. I mean, the words “power” and “management” are right there next to each other.

I found the setting by navigating to:

Windows Button > Device Manager > System Devices > Intel (R) Management Engine Interface

Double click on that to bring up the Properties window, click the Power Management tab and uncheck “Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power”.

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And that did it. I don’t know what that did, but that did it. My theory is that this Intel management thing handles part or all of the system power underlying the OS, and this setting was being switched off by the Windows power management components (somewhere) and was being rendered unresponsive until Windows was forced out of the sleep state by the hard shutdown. This could be one of those stupid Windows mysteries that I’ll never figure out. (Email or Twitter @ me if you have any ideas.)

Anyhow, something worth looking into if you have some weird power issues on your battery-powered computer.




I just read World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech

 

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