Snow Leopard Battery Life Issues with Flash: Fixed

Snow Leopard brought forth 64-bit versions of many Apple applications. Finder, TextEdit and Safari (among others) could now run in x86-64 mode. However, last year I found that browsing websites that used Flash with 64-bit Safari dropped battery life by over 40% in Snow Leopard compared to 32-bit Safari in Leopard. To fix the problem you had to force Safari to launch in 32-bit mode.

While Apple never recognized the problem nor discussed why it happened to begin with, it appears that it’s since been addressed in OS X 10.6.3. The results below tell all:

Snow Leopard Battery Life Improvement
Flash Web Browsing Battery Life OS X 10.6.1 OS X 10.6.3
15-inch MacBook Pro (Mid 2009) - Core 2 Duo 2.53GHz 277 minutes 344 minutes

Flash web browsing battery life improved tremendously from the original release of Snow Leopard. While it's still not as high as in Leopard, it's a definite improvement.

Windows 7 Battery Life

A handful of users asked that I look at battery life under Windows 7. Being your humble servant, I of course obliged. I attempted to recreate my OS X benchmarks under Windows 7 as best as possible, using Chrome and Windows Media Player in place of Safari and iTunes of course. You can’t draw any conclusions about OS X vs. Windows 7 battery life from these numbers however. As I mentioned in the original review, under Windows 7 the MacBook Pro keeps the discrete GPU enabled 100% of the time. There’s no way to shut it off. Battery life will inevitably be lower than OS X.

Windows 7 Battery Life
  Light Web Browsing Flash Web Browsing XviD Playback
15-inch MacBook Pro (Mid 2010) - Core i7 2.66GHz 255 minutes 255 minutes 153 minutes

It appears that the dGPU being on all the time is the reason we can't get better browser battery life regardless of workload. The XviD playback test also takes a hit compared to OS X thanks to the discrete GPU. In our previous articles we found OS X to be roughly equal to Windows 7 in XviD battery life.

Core i5 vs. Core i7 Battery Life High Resolution, Matte Display: Tested
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  • Howard - Saturday, April 24, 2010 - link

    Can't say I'd ever want a glossy screen. Reply
  • vol7ron - Saturday, April 24, 2010 - link

    I don't understand this, I like glossy screens. Everyone else seems to be against them. Of course, I rarely do anything outside. If I did, I'd probably get a removable screen attachment. Reply
  • softdrinkviking - Saturday, April 24, 2010 - link

    i like glossies too, and i don't ever notice any glare.
    i think there is just an assumption that glossy is bad or something, or
    people are convinced that it's a gimmick.
    maybe it is, but i like 'em.
    Reply
  • Grabo - Saturday, April 24, 2010 - link

    Eh? Since it's relatively hard nowadays to find a portable with a matte screen I must conclude that most people are like you, i.e attached to glossy screens.

    I despise them. Most desktop monitors (still) aren't glossy, and thus I see them as painting a more accurate picture. Glossies increase saturation and contrast, something which then is a lie, even though most people absolutely adore it.
    Reply
  • hybrid2d4x4 - Saturday, April 24, 2010 - link

    I've got natural light coming into the living room from ~135deg around me, and the glossy displays on family members' laptops are completely useless in that room- it's all reflections. I'm probably in the minority, but I'd like to be able to use a laptop outdoors (and probably would). There's no way I'm ever gonna settle for glossy, even if it means never buying a laptop. Reply
  • MadMan007 - Saturday, April 24, 2010 - link

    Glossy is fine on a desktop monitor where you can control the environment. On a laptop though? Hells no. Reply
  • orthorim - Monday, April 26, 2010 - link

    I have a 17" glossy. I like sunlight and a view, and working near windows with this laptop is very annoying, way too much reflection. In addition, I don't see how anything looks much better on the glossy screen - possible exception movies which really look fantastic on my screen.

    But this is primarily a work laptop, and as such, it has a major flaw with the glossy screen. When working in Cafes or near a window, I have to crank up brightness all the way to the max, which then reduces battery life.

    I will go with matte again next time. The gains from glossy are minimal, the downside clearly outweighs this. If you never go outside or don't live in a sunny climate, maybe it doesn't matter. I am in the tropics, and I love to see the outside when working.
    Reply
  • iamezza - Sunday, April 25, 2010 - link

    I agree. I don't use a laptop much outdoors, but when I'm indoors there is usually bright light coming in from the windows that can cause a lot of glare. Reply
  • Socratic - Monday, April 26, 2010 - link

    Have to agree with others here. I much prefer a matte screen. If there are any windows in the room the glare at certain times of the day on a glossy screen makes it unusable, at least for me. In an editing room or business environment with no outside lighting, I can see the appeal. I have however seen offices that the glare from the over head fluorescent lighting was so bad that users had to hang something over the top of the monitor on a glossy screen to be able to use it. Reply
  • cjhao - Saturday, April 24, 2010 - link

    'MacBook Pro brought posted some incredible battery life numbers'
    i created an account because you guys are great, so i wanted to help maintain the awesome reputation in my small way by pointing this out
    Reply

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