Netbook Browser Battery Life

The first two laptops are representative of a large portion of the mobile market. Both processors are reasonably fast, you get 4GB RAM, and battery life is acceptable if not great. Discrete graphics would improve performance in gaming applications by a substantial amount, but it would also eat into the battery life, which is why most laptops utilize integrated graphics. Our last laptop for the browser battery life testing represents the last major chunk of the mobile market where battery life would matter: netbooks. The ASUS 1005HA represents the current state-of-the-art in netbooks, with an Intel Atom N280 processor, 1GB memory, a 160GB hard drive, and a 10.1" LCD. It uses the Intel 945GSE + ICH7MU chipset with integrated GMA 950 graphics.

Unlike our testing for the 1005HA review, we set the Super Hybrid Engine to "High" instead of "Auto", so the N280 won't underclock on battery. This reduces battery life by around 6%. Since the 1005HA runs XP instead of Vista, we also chose the "Portable/Laptop" power profile rather than the "Max Battery"; the reason is that the netbooks tend to run too slow when set to "Max Battery" and the gains aren't as substantial as with faster laptops. We measured a 7.5% increase in battery life by switching to the "Max Battery" profile, if you're interested.

ASUS Eee PC 1005HA Specifications
Processor Intel Atom N270 or N280 (Tested)
N280: 1.66GHz, 512KB L2, 45nm, 667FSB
Chipset Intel 945GSE + ICH7MU
Memory 1x1024MB DDR2-533 @ 4-4-4-12 Timings
Graphics Integrated Intel GMA 950
Display 10.1" Glossy LED-Backlit ~16:9 WSVGA (1024x600)
Hard Drive 2.5" 160GB 5400RPM 7MB (Hitachi HTS543216L9SA00)
Networking Atheros AR8132 Fast Ethernet
Atheros AR9285 802.11n WiFi
Audio Realtek AL269 2-Channel HD Audio
(2.0 Speakers with headphone/microphone jacks)
Battery 6-Cell 11.25V, 5600 mAhr, 63.0 Whr
Front Side None
Left Side Heat Exhaust
Kensington Lock
1 x USB 2.0
VGA
AC Power Connection
Right Side SD/MMC reader
Microphone/Headphone Jacks
2 x USB 2.0
100Mb Fast Ethernet
Back Side None
Operating System Windows XP Home SP3
Dimensions 10.31" x 7.01" x 1.02"-1.44" (WxDxH)
Weight 2.8 lbs (with 6-cell battery)
Extras 1.3MP Webcam
Super Hybrid Engine (software over/under clocking)
Available in White, Black, Blue, and Pink
Warranty 1-year standard ASUS warranty (USA)
Extended warranties available
Price Black 1005HA-PU1X-BK starting at $381

ASUS Eee PC 1005HA

Unlike the other laptops, all of the browsers offer almost the same battery life on the 1005HA. Google Chrome comes in first this time, offering 2.5% more battery life than IE8. There's only a four minute gap between IE8 and Opera 10, a difference of less than 1% total. AdBlock doesn't help Firefox this time, most likely because of the amount of processing it takes to parse HTML and perform regular expression matching.

The gap between first and sixth with a netbook looks to be 3.5%, so if you're using a netbook you can select a browser based on other features, though Chrome does come in first by almost 15 minutes. The major exception is that Apple's Safari 4 web browser again comes in last, again by a large margin. Chrome managed 36% more battery life on the 1005HA than Safari, and Flash content within Safari 4 used a significant amount of CPU time. Safari seems to want more CPU power than the Atom can provide, with the result being the processor is often near 100% utilization for significant amounts of time on Flash-heavy sites.

Intel Browser Battery Life Closing Thoughts
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  • ProDigit - Monday, September 21, 2009 - link

    I just read the Intel senior vice president is called Anand Chandrasekher. I wonder if he has anything to do with Anadtech? Reply
  • Wwhat - Sunday, September 20, 2009 - link

    Adblock doesn't just help by blocking flash but also by preventing tons of scripts the adcompanies run I bet, you should test that by also trying it with flashblock instead of adblock if you want to be sure.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, September 20, 2009 - link

    In progress... obviously, the impact of Flash/FlashBlock will depend on how many Flash ads are on a page as well. Reply
  • Starcub - Friday, September 18, 2009 - link

    I just installed Safari 4 a few days ago along side Explorer 8. Then I saw this article, and when I saw the large difference between IE8 and S4, I decided to test out how much processor usage they each used. So I closed out IE8 and loaded the article up in S4 and found that both cores on my T5500 CPU went from ~5% to over 20% usage on the same page.

    S4 pages seemed to look nicer than on IE8, and the performance seems a little better too. S4 also has a TSR spellchecking feature enabled by default, and puts borders around text boxes. All these things, and there are probably still more default processes, require CPU cycles to execute.

    I've decided I'm going to do my civic duty and use IE instead of Safari in order to reduce my carbon footprint (except on pages IE8 has problems with @!#%$!) :)

    Thanks for a very informative article!
    Reply
  • - Monday, September 14, 2009 - link

    I'd love to see the different power usage differences between XP, Vista and Win7. Maybe you could test different OS's on older and new laptops, as well as older and newer desktops then compare the differneces. It could even be combined with different browsers, and see how each browser interacts with each different OS.

    I've heard someone say that actually XP is the most efficient power wise when they did an impromptu test of their own, but not sure whether it's really true.

    If web developers could develop more green friendly web sites on the server side, and consumers on the client side could make use the best combo of efficient OS, browser and plug-ins, it would be a step in the right direction.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, September 14, 2009 - link

    You're about one day early... I should have the results up for OS comparisons in the next day or so. Reply
  • Fanfoot - Monday, September 14, 2009 - link

    Thought provoking piece. Also enjoyed your many well argued riposts to the various trolls here. Nicely done. I quite enjoy the people who won't accept that IE8 is better at power saving than other browsers simply because they don't like it.

    Power management is obviously just one of many reasons to choose a web browser. Personally the only thing I learned is you really shouldn't install Safari on a Windows Laptop. I'm planning to continue using Firefox for now. I'm too used to it, and all the plugins I use to switch FOR THE MOMENT.
    Reply
  • neogodless - Monday, September 14, 2009 - link

    "If there is interest, we may look at extending this testing two other laptops in the future" Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, September 14, 2009 - link

    Fixed, thanks. Bad speech recognition... BAD! Reply
  • strandbygaard - Monday, September 14, 2009 - link

    Interesting experiment. Unfortunately, the article does not help us determine which is the more efficient browser. Lowest power usage DOES NOT equal most efficient!

    "Work done per watt" is actually the metric we're interested in. "Work" being defined as the number of web pages you can load per watt (multiplied by the load time to get the power usage).

    Consider this. If IE8 lets you run 10% longer, but Chrome gets you 40% more page views during the total runtime, it's rather obvious that Chrome would still be the most efficient choice.

    What would be really interesting would be for AnandTech to redo the experiment while counting the number of page views, so we could determine the efficiency of each browser.
    Reply

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