AMD Browser Battery Life

We stuck to the most recent versions of the most popular web browsers for testing. Our list includes Apple Safari (version 4.0.3), Google Chrome (version 2.0.172.43), Mozilla Firefox (version 3.5.2), Microsoft Internet Explorer (version 8.0.6001.18813), and Opera (versions 9.6.4 and 10 Beta 3). We included two versions of Opera simply because version 10 wasn't final during testing, although it appears there's little difference between the two when it comes to battery life. We also ran a test using Firefox with the AdBlock Plus add-on, which means the Flash advertisements didn't show up. The compromise there is that AdBlock requires more processing time up front in order to parse the HTML. Each test was done (at least) twice, taking the higher score of the runs.

Here are the results of our testing, starting with the Gateway NV52, a laptop based on the AMD RS780MN platform. Please note that unlike our normal battery life tests, we set the laptop on the Vista "Power Saver" profile instead of "Balanced", with the hard drive set to power down after 3 minutes and the maximum CPU performance set at 50%. This improves battery life on all laptops, sometimes by a significant amount.

Gateway NV5214u Specifications
Processor AMD Athlon 64 X2 QL-64 (Dual-core, 2.1GHz, 2x512KB L2, 65nm, 35W, 667MHz FSB)
Chipset AMD RS780MN + SB700
Memory 2x2048MB DDR2-667
Graphics Integrated ATI Radeon HD 3200
Display 15.6" Glossy LED-Backlit 16:9 WXGA (1366x768)
Hard Drive 320GB 5400RPM
Optical Drive 8x DVDR SuperMulti
Networking Gigabit Ethernet
802.11n WiFi
56K Modem
Audio 2-Channel HD Audio (2.0 Speakers with headphone/microphone jacks)
Battery 6-Cell 10.8V, 4400mAhr, 47.5Whr
Front Side None
Left Side SD/MMC/MS/MS Pro/xD reader
Microphone/Headphone Jacks (2.0 audio with S/PDIF support)
2 x USB 2.0
HDMI
VGA
Gigabit Ethernet
AC Power Connection
Kensington Lock
Right Side DVDRW Optical Drive
2 x USB 2.0
56K Modem
Power Button
Back Side Heat Exhaust Port
Operating System Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit
Dimensions 14.6" x 9.8" x 1.0"-1.5" (WxDxH)
Weight 5.8 lbs (with 6-cell battery)
Extras Webcam
Alternate colors/models available
Blue: NV5213u
Black: NV5215u
Red: NV5216u
Warranty 1-year standard Gateway warranty
Extended warranties available
Price NV5214u available at Best Buy for $500

Gateway NV52

There are a few interesting tidbits to point out. First, the margin of error between runs is around 3% because of network issues, website content, and fluctuation in battery discharging rates. That's why we ran each test at least twice, so the results above should be accurate to within around 1%, for the best-case results. That said, the best battery life on the NV52 ends up coming from what most consider the slowest browser, Internet Explorer 8. Google's Chrome browser matches IE8 at 162 minutes, so there's something to be said for the lightweight newcomer being fast and lean. (Note that we reran the IE8 test one more time to verify the result, and it came out quite a bit lower the second time. We think there was a network glitch with the originally reported score of 175 minutes -- sorry for the confusion.) Our thought is that Microsoft has optimized IE8 better than most of the competition, since it's a major part of the OS.

Firefox with Adblock Plus places at the top, since Flash content can dramatically increase CPU usage relative to static images; most probably assumed AdBlock would help more, but it only improved battery life with Firefox by 4.3%. Opera 9.6.4 comes in after Chrome and IE8, followed by the first major gap: Opera 9 beat Opera 10 by 9%. At the back of the pack, Apple's Safari 4 web browser trails Opera 10 by 10% -- or if you prefer, IE8 and Chrome give you 24% more battery life under Windows Vista than Safari 4. As much as some people might like Apple's products, clearly Safari 4 isn't the best web browser when it comes to battery life.

Index Intel Browser Battery Life
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  • JarredWalton - Monday, September 14, 2009 - link

    The test is set to load the three test pages every minute -- it's constant "user speed" simulation rather than maximum web page rendering rate. So in this instance, if two browsers ran for four hours, they rendered the same number of pages in that time.

    If I wanted to test page views per Watt, I'd need to come up with a different test, and the results wouldn't be a realistic demonstration of how people use web browsers. You have to pause and read a page to know what's there; if you're just constantly reloading pages, you can make a battery life stress test but it is no longer anything approaching a realistic view of browser usage. IMO anyway.
    Reply
  • erple2 - Monday, September 14, 2009 - link

    I suppose the only corollary to that is that the test assumes that every page takes (far) less than 1 minute to load. Otherwise the GP might have a point.

    If it takes longer than 1 minute to reach "steady state", then it might become more of an issue as to which browser is more productive.

    Perhaps to "truly" measure this, you would have the timer start at 1 minute after steady state is achieved, then count how many 1 minute steady state events exist. That would make for an oddly discrete number of trials, however. However, that might only really measure how much power each browser draws while rendering a page as a function of the total amount of time spent on a "trial". However, in keeping with the other benchmarks you've provided, it appears that the time of rendering is somewhat irrelevant.

    Whew! Glad I don't have to design and run meaningful benchmarks! That's hard!
    Reply
  • postler - Sunday, September 13, 2009 - link

    It would be interesting to compare Opera using all of its features (bit torrent client, chat, email client) vs other browsers with seperate programs for these tasks. I suppose Opera is more power efficient compared to other browsers+email client+bittorrent client running. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, September 14, 2009 - link

    I don't think the majority of people are going to run a bittorrent client on battery power. However, this is not a review of browsers in general; it's just a look at battery life using the same surfing test on each one. Personally, I'm a Firefox guy and this isn't enough to convince me to look elsewhere. Reply
  • yourwhiteshadow - Sunday, September 13, 2009 - link

    What about battery life on the new macbook pros w/various browsers? Also, I went to test out a 13.3" MBP at the apple store, and ran peacekeepeer on it. The $1499 version with 4 gb ram, 2.53 ghz proc, and 250 gb hdd got consistently got a lower score than the $1199 version which had 2 gb ram, 2.26 ghz proc, and 160 gb hard drive. Both ran the same video chipset. Any ideas as to what is going on? I ended up buying the $1199 one obviously, but still I'm a little curious. Reply
  • Voo - Sunday, September 13, 2009 - link

    I'm astonished everytime I read a article with several pages of big colorfull benchmarks in it and then see people asking for evidence to backup the "claims" made at the end of the article..

    Interesting article, though I knew before reading it that I wouldn't replace my FF. I'm just too customized to it - yep I know I'm ignorant, but after all the differences between the browsers are relativly small so I think I'll survive it ;)

    But yes just out of courtesy I'd be interested in the same benchmarks run under OS X. Would be interesting to see how IE would fare there (I think Raymond Chen said once that the IE is more or less a GUI wrapped around several core dlls, which shouldn't work for OSX)
    Reply
  • coachingjoy - Sunday, September 13, 2009 - link

    Well done.

    Appears IE8 is good for something.

    Reply
  • araczynski - Saturday, September 12, 2009 - link

    that was refreshingly, um, refreshing, and quite surprising, didn't think there'd be that much noticeable difference between the browsers in terms of battery life of all things.

    still hate that each of them has their own stupid rendering quirks that they seem to believe themselves above eliminating.
    Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Saturday, September 12, 2009 - link

    "None of these laptops would qualify as high-end solutions, mostly because we don't think users interested in battery life are going to be looking at high-end laptops."

    That quote and this:

    "Please note that unlike our normal battery life tests, we set the laptop on the Vista "Power Saver" profile instead of "Balanced", with the hard drive set to power down after 3 minutes and the maximum CPU performance set at 50%."

    This is ridiculous. One of the most stupid and contradictory reviews ever seen on Anandtech. Sorry but please benchmark settings that people will use. Nobody is going to put "Power Saver" on a Core 2/Turion Notebook and enable "High" on a Atom Netbook. What's the point here? I mean you said the battery life difference was 6% for Power Saver vs. Balanced which isn't significant at all for performance sacrifice. Does it artificially inflate the score differences between browers? Have you tested to see if the positions change with different settings?

    Again, what's the point of this review? Normally I'm very positive to Anandtech. This article isn't one that would show that. You could have at least put both results.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, September 12, 2009 - link

    I'm not sure what your beef with the first quote is supposed to be. Do you think people buying high-end laptops with discrete graphics care about battery life? I don't. If you have a Core 2 Quad laptop and GTX 260M graphics, your battery life will stink regardless of browser, so I decided to look at several laptops that offer reasonable battery life and see if the choice of browser mattered. Moving on....

    The "High" setting on the ASUS was not for the OS. That was set on "Portable/Laptop". The "High" setting is specifically for ASUS' Super Hybrid Engine, which underclocks the CPU and FSB if you leave it on "Auto". The CPU can still use SpeedStep, but it will stay on a 166MHz bus (667FSB) instead of SHE dropping it to 147MHz (588FSB). Mostly I did it to reduce the amount of time required to run the tests; at over seven hours per browser, running each twice, it already took more than a week of testing time. I don't have the 1005HA anymore (ASUS wanted it back), so I can't retest anything on it.

    As I also mentioned, using "Balanced" instead of "Power Saver" gives you an extra 6% battery life - since that's what we're looking at for using different browsers, I figured it was a useful bonus. Also, I was running some of those tests for use in a future article, so I didn't want to repeat testing any more than necessary. Regardless, using Power Saver is hardly "ridiculous", and the comparison wasn't between AMD and Intel and Atom. That's why those results are on separate pages.

    If you want apples-to-apples on browsers on each laptop, that's what I provided here. If you want to compare identical settings between different laptops, that's what I've always done in the standard notebook/netbook reviews. As far as I can tell, the power saving setting does not influence the individual browser results, though to be sure I would need to run every single test again with different settings. That's not something I really feel is necessary.

    And FWIW, the "50%" setting in the advanced power options doesn't mean the CPU runs at half the maximum clock speed. CPUZ tells me otherwise. I've seen some laptops set that to "20%" or even "0%", and yet the systems still run. All I know for sure is that I used the same power settings on both Gateway systems. Since the 1005HA runs XP instead of Vista, there's already an inherent difference. I'll be looking at XP, Vista, and Win7 shortly, though, so stay tuned.
    Reply

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