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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  • IntelUser2000 - Monday, September 14, 2009 - link

    Again, you posted the reason I replied in the very first place. It's not my "beef" that whether people care about battery life on high end or not. It's that you put different settings on two kinds of portable devices for no reason(the Notebook and the Netbook). Why not keep them both on "Balanced"(or something equivalent).

    "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"

    Then you should have tested with "Balanced" just like on the Atom Netbook. Because that would be the most common setting. Unlike "Balanced", "Power Saver" has a bit of performance to be sacrificed(I'm not arguing about the %ages).

    I don't know why you did the "Power Saver" in the first place. As you say, its not 50% reduction(actually its even greater), but its some sort of performance reduction, and the possibility of that changing browser ratings was there.

    http://forum.notebookreview.com/showthread.php?t=2...">http://forum.notebookreview.com/showthread.php?t=2...
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, September 14, 2009 - link

    I do have "Maximum Battery" results for certain tests on the 1005HA, which I'll discuss in a different article. I'm not denying that "Power Saver" can impact performance, but your link is to tests of gaming on different power settings. Typical gaming performance is HORRIBLE on battery power, even on high-end notebooks, because the GPUs have to run in reduced power modes. The batteries simply can't provide enough juice to run everything at maximum performance.

    Since "Power Saver" isn't always the same among laptops - you can customize a lot of settings - I don't know what was being tested specifically on that forum post. Was Max CPU at 50%, 20%, or something else? What about the GPU setting -- if ATI or NVIDIA GPUs are set to maximum battery, of course gaming performance is reduced. It could very well be that the problem with reduced FPS in those tests is from the GPU running slow rather than the CPU. Regardless, if you have the AC adapter connected, you can tweak the "Power Saver" AC settings to allow full performance while still giving maximum battery life when unplugged. For Internet surfing, the different power modes aren't as big of an impact on browser speed.

    Anyway, it's an interesting test to look at, but with only so many hours in a day I have to pick and choose what to run. In this case, I ran the ASUS on the standard XP setting while I let the two Gateway setups get a boost in battery life.

    Update: Okay, so I looked at the power numbers again, and it turns out that Power Saver can do far more than 6% increase on Vista, but the Max Battery option in XP didn't help out as much. Assuming I have all the settings correct, the NV52 improved by a whopping 30% by switching to "Power Saver", and the NV58 likewise improved by an impressive 25%. The ASUS 1005HA on the other had only showed an improvement of 7.5%. The 6% figure is for disabling the Super Hybrid Engine underclocking of the FSB, but I got it confused with the other scores. Sorry.
    Reply
  • jasperjones - Saturday, September 12, 2009 - link

    You state:

    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.


    Assuming you base the margin of error on a 95% confidence interval, then a margin of error of 3% implies a standard error of roughly 1.5%. It then is utterly impossible mathematically to have accuracy within 1% when taking averages over two runs, considering the standard error is the population standard deviation over the square root of the sample size. (In plain English: to cut the standard error--and at the same time the margin of error--in half you need to go from 1 to 4 runs, as sqrt(4)=2.)
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, September 12, 2009 - link

    I did not average the runs, which I suppose creates some of the confusion, because averaging assumes that all runs are representative. Instead, my statement is based off of performing the tests several times for certain configurations.

    The difference from highest to lowest time is around 3%, but I found that out of four runs I would usually get something like 156, 161, 160, and 159. Thus, if I'm only looking at the best-case result (161) the margin drops to around 1%. (i.e. 161 vs. 160 or 159).

    Statistically, it may not be the best way of doing things, but I prefer focusing on a best-case result instead of running four or eight iterations of a test -- especially when each test run can take anywhere from 3 to 10 hours.
    Reply
  • ProDigit - Saturday, September 12, 2009 - link

    There's also the browser's loading speed.

    The test does not show which pages where loaded.
    Loading facebook, loading games in facebook like farmville, loading sites that show lots or little of flash based commercial,or gifs.

    There are too many variables... A second thought to prove that these measurements are invalid...

    I hate IE, don't use it, so you'll need to put up a lot more evidence and info for me to prove IE8 will be better than Firefox!
    Numerous sites cited that FF is better than IE, loads faster, runs with a lower footprint, etc..
    You telling the opposite need to spend more energy convincing the people.
    As far as I see it now, indeed anandtech is payed by intel to get IE8 out... So not a single word of this article will I believe until I see more proof!
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, September 12, 2009 - link

    Honestly, I was surprised that IE8 had better battery life in most cases than the competition. But then, that's the whole point of the article: to investigate something people may not have considered. Despite criticisms of IE8 for being slow, it does manage to provide better battery life under stressful Flash browsing scenarios.

    Saying a test is "invalid" because you disagree is not only pointless, but it misses the whole introduction where I explain upfront that the testing is only looking at one particular stressful scenario. There were no Flash games, but there were plenty of Flash advertisements on all three web sites used. If I had used the Google home page, it would be less strenuous. As stated, one site was AnandTech, which appears to have 2 to 4 ads on the home page. The other sites were similar in that they were news-based sites. AnandTech was set as the active tab in all cases.

    If you'd like, send me a list of three pages and I can run one or two tests to see if your list is more or less stressful. But then I don't know why I should spend energy on someone who is already convinced these results are invalid, simply because he disagrees with the measured results. Tell you what: go download and install this list of browsers and do a test that proves my results are wrong and we can talk more.
    Reply
  • ProDigit - Saturday, September 12, 2009 - link

    I think these results are invalid!
    Simply because it's been proven on chippy's website umpcportal.com that on netbooks, the adblock definitely adds battery life to Firefox!
    Second,adblock often blocks ads that are flash based,which internet explorer 8 will show regardless (IE does not have many good 'free' adblockers).

    So in other words,simple logic tells me these benchmarks are invalid.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, September 12, 2009 - link

    Your "simple logic" is a bit too simple. You can see that Firefox with AdBlock does indeed improve battery life on the two faster laptops, but IE8 still comes out ahead. As stated, it appears IE8 being tied into the OS at a lower level helps them to use less CPU time... or perhaps it's just the Flash ActiveX version instead of whatever Flash setup Firefox and other browsers use. Obviously, Flash is a very weak point for Safari 4 under Windows.

    As for UMPCportal proving this is "wrong", I assume you mean http://www.umpcportal.com/2008/12/save-battery-lif...">this post -- which is actually a reference to http://www.sectheory.com/browser-power-consumption...">a different site. SecTheory tested using a Kill-A-Watt meter, and that's not the same as testing battery life. I've noticed that when you switch to battery power, it does more than just use the same amount of power that you measure through a Kill-A-Watt unit. (It's something I show in every laptop review.)

    Ultimately, your simple logic falls short because it was too simple. Logically, I'm sure there are other ways of improving battery life not investigated (yet). AdBlock Plus is rather heavy when it comes to processing HTML, since it has at present several hundred regular expressions/pattern to check. However, it's also the easiest way to get comprehensive ad blocking and it takes no effort to set it up. If I made a custom filter and only blocked ads from the three test sites, things would be better, especially on netbooks where the Atom CPU had to work really hard processing the ABP list.

    In other words, the benchmarks aren't "invalid"; they just show that you should check your assumptions at the door, and they show that AdBlock Plus may not be the most power efficient means of blocking ads. If you have suggestions on some better alternatives (preferably something easily configured), I'm more than happy to hear them.
    Reply
  • ciukacz - Monday, September 14, 2009 - link

    you could try http://adsweep.org/">http://adsweep.org/ Reply
  • JumpingJack - Sunday, September 13, 2009 - link

    :) There are fanboys and then there are fanboys, but fanboy's for web browswers? What is the world coming to :) ....

    Amazing.
    Reply

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