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, 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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  • JarredWalton - Sunday, September 13, 2009 - link

    No. No they don't. Does "anything" mean the same as "all"? Does "everything" mean the same as "anything"? I'll give you the use of "except" in place of "but" for this phrase, but to suggest I replace a two syllable phrase with a 5/6 syllable phrase (assuming you want to be snobbish and pronounce "everything" as ev-er-ee-thing instead of ev-ree-thing) is at best a stylistic difference of opinion and at worst flame bait. Living in London doesn't actually make you a master of the English language.

    If you want to prove me wrong, you're going to have to do it with links that show how my usage is improper rather than vague statements like, "I have an Oxford English dictionary in my lap and I'm in downtown London, so I bloody well know what I'm talking about!" Right now you've given nothing other than your own opinion to show you're right, along with claims of references that support you. At least whatthehey had some links to some site, but of course your "superior" opinion is that the linked site is wrong as well. So far, I haven't even seen anything that supports your opinion -- not even with the help of Google.

    Here's a US reference to support my cause." target="_blank">Definition: "all but". Merriam-Webster supports my usage as meaning "nearly", and indeed in 2002 the browser wars were nearly over. The only usage I've heard for "anything but" is in a phrase like, "Please don't cry - anything but that! I can't take crying." Obviously, that usage isn't anything like "all but" or "nearly". "Anything but" conveys a message of being far from something. "This vacation has been anything but fun, what with the bad weather, car problems, and trolls running rampant in the forums."

    Now quit the trolling and keep things civil and we can all get along.
  • whatthehey - Sunday, September 13, 2009 - link

    Well said Jarred. With every response fsardis only proves more completely that he's a complete asshat.

    "I first saw this misuse of the expression on the internet and it seems there are many places it is incorrectly explained." Clearly you're not well read, as the phrase has been around for a hell of a lot longer than the Internet!

    "The entire UK uses the expression 'all but' as a way to say 'all except'." Congratulation to the entire UK, except that we're discussing "all but" and you started saying "anything but", you stupid twat. Go back and reread your post. Even better is this:

    "Oxford Definition of 'all but' is as follows straight from the book: 'all but: everything short of'." Exactly. Do you not even know how to understand your own dictionary? Let's try this: "Seven years ago, the browser wars seemed everything short of ended." See, right there it's just as if he had written "nearly" in place of "all but"! You're putting your foot in your mouth so hard, it's a wonder you can breathe!

    "Now if it means 'anything short of', then saying 'all but over' means 'anything short of over', which means it is not over at all if it is anything in the whole world apart from being over." You're right, but once again you're making a huge mistake because you just changed the bloody Oxford English definition from "everything short of" to "anything short of". Damn you're thick in the head! Are you such a cursed moron that you don't know that "everything" and "anything" have completely different meanings? Even in the UK, they mean different things.">">

    Stop substituting words that aren't equivalent and you'll avoid digging the hole you're in any deeper.

    And the coup de grace: "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." That's like trying to say you're smart because you're from New York (lots of dumb people there as well, considering the millions that live there). Thanks for letting us all know that there are people in London with a bloody dictionary in their hands, and they can read it, and yet THEY STILL DON'T UNDERSTAND WHAT IT SAYS!

    Even a poor online translation to another language gets it right. In German, Bablefish suggests "Vor sieben Jahren, alle schienen Browserskriege als beendet." Close enough for our purposes. Put that back into English and you get: "Seven years before, all browser wars seemed as terminated." That's closer than your silly "anything except ended" mistranslation.

    Perhaps I'm the only one that's reminded of a recent Dilbert comic. Who know that the English forum trolls could also be PHBs?"> "BE WRONG FSARDIS! JUST BE WRONG!" And you are definitely wrong, whether you admit it or not.
  • Pirks - Tuesday, September 15, 2009 - link

    Yeah, fsardis is a total fuckup cockoo type of guy, don't pay attention to him. Very well known troll he is ;) Gooood to see this stupid fsardis twit pwned thoroughly here, hehehe :))
  • fsardis - Saturday, September 12, 2009 - link

    You are a total idiot. Learn english. The site you linked is just as wrong as you are. Just to enlighten you of your own idiocy, the entire UK uses the expression "all but" as a way to say "all except".
    I first saw this misuse of the expression on the internet and it seems there are many places it is incorrectly explained. I suggest you pick up a real dictionary on paper written by some people at Oxford and open up your eyes before you go and ridicule yourself on the internet by linking sites that are anytihng but intelligent.

    Oxford Definition of "all but" is as follows straight from the book: "all but: everything short of"

    Now if it means "anything short of", then saying "all but over" means "anything short of over", which means it is not over at all if it is anything in the whole world apart from being over.
    Or is this way too complicated for your shoe size IQ?
  • jojo4u - Saturday, September 12, 2009 - link

    IE8 is beste because the Flash ActiveX Plugin is the most performant. The other browsers under Windows are still ok, but with OS X and Linux this bites you hard.
  • yyrkoon - Saturday, September 12, 2009 - link

    I suspect, but have no numbers to prove that Chrome uses more battery because it is faster. I have been using Firefox previous to Chrome at least close to when it came out. Lately, I have been using Chrome 2, and now that it works with the websites I frequent it is noticeably faster. Sites with lots of images load a lot faster, and the browser just seems more responsive. I have given consideration to trying Firefox mobile though. This could be a different story.

    Chrome does also seem to have its own flaws, but from what I have been seeing lately they are small. One would be the DNS pool cache problem I have read that Firefox also exhibits. A simple ipconfig /flushdns while elevated seems to do the job though. Between the two, I of course pick Chrome, because performance is what I am after.

    IE has not even been a consideration in my book for a very long time, and I would rip it out if I could. Especially a browser that is *still* integral to the OS, which I am scratching my head as to why this is legal( again ). Maybe I Need a German licensed copy ? Oh well.

    They all look fine to me though. Aesthetically. Well at least the top 3.
  • blackshard - Saturday, September 12, 2009 - link

    Hi, maybe Chrome is compiled with some atom optimizations. I mean, common x86 processors have enough horsepower for anything, instead Atoms are still not so powerful, so *maybe* Chrome could have been optimized to help the "weaks", since the stronger processors don't need such help.

    I still like firefox, as it is a multi-platform software and still has very optimized code. It's really not common seeing such an optimization grade in multi-platform software.
  • yyrkoon - Saturday, September 12, 2009 - link

    This is not using an Atom based system, this is on a T3400 based laptop with 4GB of RAM in Vista Home Premium. Also did some comparisons on a much older P4 2.4Ghz laptop I had as well. Even more noticeable on the P4, but still a big difference of time on both systems. Nothing was done "scientifically", but a person would have to have no concept of time not to see the differences. Think of the differences between nearly instant vs. several more seconds.

    Now, this noticeable difference was a few months ago, so maybe things have changed more recently. However, it seems to me that the graphics rendering routines are more optimized, or were in Chrome. Having done some development with graphics myself, I could see this happening, but can not say for sure that this is actually the case.
  • llongbourne - Saturday, September 12, 2009 - link

    I run Portable Firefox from a RAM disk. I'd like to believe that it increases battery life through reduced HDD use, but of course I'm not equipped for any kind of rigorous comparison.

    I'd be interested to see this setup included, not least because it improves the speed of a number of browsing actions too. (I've written briefly here with the details.)
  • llongbourne - Saturday, September 12, 2009 - link

    Sorry, link didn't embed. It's here:">

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