Seven years ago, the browser wars seemed all but ended. AOL bought out Netscape, Microsoft Internet Explorer dominated the market, and the era of browser-based exploits began. In 2003, Microsoft's stranglehold on the browser market didn't change much, but the Mozilla group began their efforts at an open-source alternative. It still took almost two years before we finally saw the birth of Firefox, the first serious contender to the browser throne since the passing of Netscape… okay, so Netscape was more on life-support, but let's not argue semantics.

During the past four years, things have changed to the point where browser market share is a lot more varied. Various browsers have their proponents and opponents, and we've seen plenty of benchmarks demonstrating which browser is the fastest, which have the best JavaScript support, and which best complies with web programming standards. With the launch of Internet Explorer 8, Opera 10, Firefox 3.5, Safari 4, and Chrome during the past year, the market is far more varied than what we've seen in the past. So which browser reigns supreme?

Truth be told, the answer to that question is very subjective. If you have a reasonably fast system, it's unlikely that you will notice the difference between any of the major browsers when it comes to loading typical webpages. Stress tests that focus on JavaScript performance might be meaningful if you visit sites that use lots of JavaScript, and concerns about security, standards support, and availability of plug-ins/add-ons are also potentially meaningful. On average it's probably a wash as to which you'll like "best". If you're trying to figure out which browser is right for you, we suggest looking at the Browser Wars series of articles over at DailyTech.

What we are going to look at today is the impact of your choice of browser on battery life, plain and simple. Except, coming up with a benchmark is neither plain nor simple. We have used several different methods for testing battery life on laptops, and depending on the type of content you're viewing battery life ranges from nearly equal to what you can expect at idle down to roughly the same amount of battery life you would get when viewing high-definition videos. Like it or not, we feel that Adobe's Flash is used on many websites, and so we picked three websites that we frequently visit and used those for our testing. As a point of reference, here's the sort of battery life difference you're looking at when viewing "simple" webpages versus the three websites we selected, from our article comparing AMD and Intel battery life.

Browser Battery Life

Obviously, that's a huge difference in battery life. You get roughly 50% more battery life in simple Internet surfing compared to surfing sites that use of lots of Flash content (along with frames, numerous tables, etc.) Last we checked, your average website is nowhere near what would qualify as "simple", and Flash content is ubiquitous. For better or for worse, we're going to focus on battery life when viewing three websites. One of the websites is AnandTech.com, and the other two shall remain nameless. Suffice it to say, all three sites have approaches to web design that we see replicated all over the Internet.

For testing, we load the three sites into tabs on our test web browser, wait 60 seconds, and then reload all three tabs. We are using three recently tested laptops that offered decent battery life. Two of these are the Gateway NV52 and NV58 that represent the current state of entry-level AMD and Intel laptops. The third is a netbook, the ASUS Eee PC 1005HA. 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. These three laptops provide a reasonable view of the current mobile market. If there is interest, we may look at extending this testing to other laptops in the future, but first let's see what sort of results we get from the test candidates.

AMD Browser Battery Life
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  • trochevs - Saturday, September 12, 2009 - link

    I was wondering what is the impact of the fact that IE is build into the OS. There are several libraries that are part of the IE (ActiveX and HTML rendering DLLs) that are running at all time. So when you test Firefox you are actually running Firefox + part of IE. Can we come with test that shows the impact?

    Also instead of reloading the same page, can we just load new page? That seem more realistic browsing pattern.

    Best regards,
    SAL-e
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, September 12, 2009 - link

    Technically the test starts the browser with the browser configured to load the three test web sites. After 60 seconds, it kills the browser process and waits a bit before starting it again. I tried Firefox with "ReloadEvery" enabled and found that it got worse battery life, so I stuck with the method described for all the browsers. It's also more strenuous than a test that cycles through a set series of pages I'd imagine, because of the starting/stopping of the browsers, though all of the necessary data is cached after the first loop so it probably doesn't make that much of a difference. (All the browsers restart almost immediately.)

    As for testing with IE ripped out and the DLLs disabled, I'm not quite sure how to accomplish that. Suggestions?
    Reply
  • trochevs - Saturday, September 19, 2009 - link

    I have played with different test scenarios, but finding practical one proves to be impossible. The only test I can come are only for academic research and most likely will raise more questions then answers.
    scenario #1: I have read several articles on the Internet that using tool nLite you can remaster Windows XP CD and remove the IE, but I think we are going to test crippled and practically useless OS.

    scenario #2: I don't know about IE8, but IE7 could be installed under WINE on Linux. Repeat the same test without Safari. The problem with this test is that result could not be compared with your current test because:
    1. Impact on power usage by the entire OS will be bigger then the browsers.
    2. IE will be in disadvantage position by default because will run under WINE. Although there could be some surprises here. In some very specific cases some Windows programs run faster under WINE compared to Windows. Also we can test Firefox running under WINE as reference.

    Of course all this is pure academic research. On the second thought repeating this test under Linux could give some real answers how Linux is compared to Windows.
    Reply
  • fsardis - Saturday, September 12, 2009 - link

    why is it that on this site the authors cannot get this expression right? it is annoying. when you say something is anything but, you mean that it is anything except. so if the browser wars seemed anything except ended, why do you go in the next sentence and describe the opposite?
    Learn basic english first, then write articles. Even Anand got this wrong on his latest SSD article. Bloody irritating every single time.
    Reply
  • andrihb - Saturday, September 12, 2009 - link

    I thought "anything but" meant exactly the same as "anything except". Reply
  • fsardis - Saturday, September 12, 2009 - link

    Yes, it does mean "everything except". So tell my why the author writes: "Seven years ago, the browser wars seemed all but ended",
    which is defined by Oxford Dictionary as "The browser wars seemed all except over" and then proceeds to explain: "AOL bought out Netscape, Microsoft Internet Explorer dominated the market, and the era of browser-based exploits began", which in simple words translates to: "The competition is dead and IE won".

    So tell me, how i it possible for the war to be anything except over and in the next sentence to explain how the war is actually over?
    And you got the idiot below trying to defend it when I live right in the centre of London and I am holding the bloody dictionary in my hands. (And that one is for the retard who said I am a hillbilly).
    Reply
  • erple2 - Monday, September 14, 2009 - link

    So your argument is hinging on your notion that:

    "Seven years ago, the browser wars seemed all but ended."

    means the same thing as:

    "Seven years ago, the browser wars seemed anything but ended."

    ? If not, then I don't understand the first sentence in your second paragraph:

    "So tell me, how i it possible for the war to be anything except over and in the next sentence to explain how the war is actually over?"

    Jarred didn't say that the war is "anything except over". That was you that misinterpreted what was said. In fact, it is quite clearly:

    "all but ended"

    Which according to previous posts, you correctly surmise that the expression means the same as "everything except ended". But certainly not "anything except ended".

    You are therefore, incorrect in your statement. Accept it and move on.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, September 13, 2009 - link

    You need to read your dictionary a bit more closely. You say it means "everything short of" but then you misunderstand what that means. Everything short of ended would mean it's nearly over. You keep using phrases that mean the exact opposite of that. "Anything except" and "everything except" are not synonyms, they're antonyms -- certainly not in the US.

    I wouldn't go to a UK based site and try to make them conform to US English, but if you like picking fights go right ahead. People in the US use the phrase as I used it. Sorry if that offends you, but if you're that easily offended by my use of the English language I would guess you have bigger issues to deal with.
    Reply
  • whatthehey - Saturday, September 12, 2009 - link

    Forewarning: The following is a rude response. Why? As the saying goes, "when in Rome...." I figure if you're going to talk to a troll at all, you need to use their language. Yes, I kicked the chastising up a notch, if only because someone had the gall to post a comment criticizing a writer when in fact they are 100% in the wrong due to a lack of reading comprehension skills. With that disclaimer out of the way....

    There's nothing like being wrong whilst screaming at the top of your lungs, eh fsardis? Instead of being a stupid twit, why don't you do a bit of research. And speaking of annoying, you can't even use proper capitalization and have the balls to complain about the writing of Jarred and Anand. Bloody hypocrite! Okay children, time for class....

    http://www.wordreference.com/definition/all%20but">http://www.wordreference.com/definition/all%20but

    Oops... look at that: you're wrong fsardis! You'll find that the phrase "all but" is a synonym for "almost", "just about", "nearly", or even "well-nigh". You probably think the last is also incorrect, just because you've never used it, right?

    What's truly amazing is that you rip off a post like yours complaining about Jarred's use of a phrase, but then you make a mistake and don't even copy the phrase properly! Look at the first sentence (which you managed to quote in the subject at least): "The browser wars seemed all but ended...." You then lambaste Jarred for saying "anything but" which means the exact opposite. If you had paused to reflect for a minute why he would describe the exact opposite after that opening statement, or maybe even tried Google, you could have saved yourself some embarrassment. In 2002, the browsers wars were most certainly "nearly ended" or "all but over" or "practically finished". That's what the introduction used as a starting point, and all you could do is get hung up on a phrase your puny little brain didn't grasp.

    Maybe you should have paused to think for a minute before acting like a stupid troll, but I don't suppose trolls are good at thinking. Perhaps you ought to try learning to read/write English at something approaching the level of an educated adult before critiquing people for not dumbing down their text to a sixth grade level. I'm probably being too harsh, as phrases like "all but ended" aren't encountered much in the backwaters of hillbilly communities. It's probably hard for someone who's never left Essex to understand, but...oh, never mind; I'm done.
    Reply
  • fsardis - Saturday, September 12, 2009 - link

    oh by the way, "anything but" and "all but" mean exactly the same damn thing you inbred redneck. Reply

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