Disable Intel Display Power Saving Technology on Surface Pro 4

Stop your display from darkening unexpectedly even when adaptive brightness is disabled.

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I recently bought a new Surface Pro 4. I run on battery often and configure the display’s brightness to 25% (with adaptive brightness disabled) to conserve battery.

With adaptive brightness disabled, my display would still occasionally darken or lighten unexpectedly, often to an uncomfortable level. After some experimentation, the trigger turned out to be what was visible on the screen. Darker content resulted in the display darkening, and lighter content resulted in the display brightening.

After some research, the culprit turned out to be Intel Display Power Saving Technology or DPST. The design of this Intel feature is precisely what I experienced: to save power by adjusting the display brightness depending on how dark or light the content on screen is.

While well intentioned, I found the experience incredibly disruptive given its slow and choppy transition and the uncomfortably dark end result. With my display brightness configured to 25% already, you can imagine how any darker might be uncomfortable, especially in adverse lighting conditions.

While on older desktops you could disable DPST via Intel’s driver configuration software, this software isn’t available on the Surface line with the recommended graphics drivers. While some might have success installing the latest available drivers and software from Intel directly, the steps can be complicated to replace the recommended drivers, and you risk introducing more problems with an untested configuration. My options seemed limited to living with it.

Fortunately, via work channels, I discovered an obscure registry key that can enable or disable Intel graphics features with the recommended graphics drivers.

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\Control\Class\{4d36e968-e325-11ce-bfc1-08002be10318}\0000]
"FeatureTestControl"=dword:00009240

The FeatureTestControl registry key is a bit field where each bit represents a feature. A value of 0 indicates the feature is enabled, and a value of 1 indicates the feature is disabled. The Intel graphics driver reads this registry key on initialization to determine which features to enable. The bit corresponding to DPST is the fifth bit from the right.

To disable DPST, you’ll need to set the DPST bit to 1. If the value of the registry key is 9240 as shown above, simply replace it with 9250. If the value on your system differs and you are unsure if DPST is already disabled, enter the existing hex value into Calculator’s Programmer mode and switch to its bit toggling keypad to check the value of the DPST bit (position 4). If it is already set to 1, then DPST is already disabled. If not, click the bit to toggle it to 1, then copy the updated hex value into the registry.

Reboot to ensure the graphics driver reconfigures itself, and DPST will be disabled.

Note: OS updates appear to reset the FeatureTestControl registry key back to its default value. If you notice that DPST has been reenabled, you’ve likely taken an OS update and will need to reconfigure the value in the registry again.

11 thoughts on “Disable Intel Display Power Saving Technology on Surface Pro 4”

  1. Do you have any info on what each bit represents? The 5th from the right is the power saving, but is there one for adaptive contrast enhancement? Thanks for the informative post.

    Like

  2. Hi Mike, All,

    thanks for posting this solution. I have previously applied it on my surface and it has worked perfectly.

    now i also want to disable this feature on my PC (Dell), and i’m getting hex value 8200. I have tried calculator, but it looks like Chinese to me.

    Could you help me to obtain the right hex value ?

    thank you so much!

    greets
    Peter

    Liked by 1 person

  3. i can’t tell you how helpful this article is. i’ve searched through countless forums and all they ever talk about is the adaptive brightness feature or power settings. both of which have nothing to do with this particular issue. this is now the third time i have used this article because windows updates tend to reset this registry key.

    i’ve actually clipped this post in my evernote for faster reference in the future. i wanted to make sure i said thank you, though, because MAN have you made my video streaming life much better. haha.

    i can’t thank you enough, mike. cheers.

    Like

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