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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  • Granseth - Saturday, September 12, 2009 - link

    Opera 10 has something called turbo mode to accelerate netsurfing on a slow connection. Could be interesting to know if that would help or hinder batterylife too Reply
  • solipsism - Saturday, September 12, 2009 - link

    Could you do comparative tests of browsers under OS X? If I can save 10% power while forced to use my battery I’ll likely do it based on your results. Also, do using plugins like ClickToFlash in Safari on OS X have any overhead that negate any power savings from turning off Flash? Reply
  • orthorim - Thursday, September 17, 2009 - link

    YES, please test Mac too. I run OS X so the tests on Windows are meaningless to me. Presumably, Safari on OS X will be much more optimized than on Windows, and Firefox will be totally different as well.

    I'd like to see Safari + ClickToFlash because that's what I am running every day. And Firefox with and without Flashblock

    Flash should make a huge difference on OS X because it's so poorly implemented by Adobe. Even simple Flash animations use lots of CPU on OS X, whereas on Windows they are hardly noticeable. I want to see how much ClickToFlash/Flashblock help, and which browser is the best.

    Firefox
    Chrome Beta
    Safari
    Camino
    Opera (?!)

    Thanks!
    Reply
  • ltcommanderdata - Saturday, September 12, 2009 - link

    If you do run browser battery life tests in OS X, can you make sure to try Safari in both 32-bit and 64-bit modes? I don't expect the browser itself to affect battery life that much between the 2 modes, but 64-bit Safari is capable of playing Flash content. I believe 64-bit Safari is still using the standard 32-bit Flash plugin, but as a separate process, giving crash stability, and using InterProcess Communication to connect the 2. I'm thinking the IPC link in 64-bit mode may use more CPU cycles reducing battery life. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, September 12, 2009 - link

    Talk to Ryan and Anand - they're the Mac OS X people. I don't have a Mac at my place, or I'd be happy to run the tests. :-) Reply
  • GeorgeH - Saturday, September 12, 2009 - link

    If Anand or Ryan decides to run browser tests on a Mac, they might also want to redo the test where Anand found that OSX 10.5.7 had vastly superior battery life to Vista. Given how poorly Safari under Windows did here, the methodology of that test becomes suspect.

    In that article Anand found that Vista running Safari offered ~75% of the battery life of OSX running Safari. Here you find that Safari under Windows offers ~75-80% of the battery life of IE (and most other "typical" Windows browsers.) Given the similarity of those numbers, perhaps Anand should have concluded that Safari/Vista is inferior to Safari/OSX, and not that OSX was the superior OS in general.

    Article:
    http://www.anandtech.com/mac/showdoc.aspx?i=3582">http://www.anandtech.com/mac/showdoc.aspx?i=3582
    Reply
  • solipsism - Saturday, September 12, 2009 - link

    I think that when doing OS comparisons that IE8 on Windows v. Safari 4 on OS X, then the same version of Firefox on each OS would be the most apt. Reply
  • foolsgambit11 - Sunday, September 13, 2009 - link

    Maybe not. It's difficult to tell how optimized FF would be for each platform, while testing each OS maker's proprietary browser would ensure they've both done their best to ensure maximum optimization. Of course, ideally, the benchmarks would also test FF to see how well it does on each platform. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, September 12, 2009 - link

    Anand's testing didn't use heavy Flash content, and that appears to be the primary issue with Safari 4 under Windows. If I switch to static images and text without Flash, as you would expect CPU usage drops to nothing after the pages finish loading. Reply
  • GeorgeH - Saturday, September 12, 2009 - link

    That's a very valid point, but doesn't quite address what I was trying to get at.

    What I was trying to say is that by simply using "poorly optimized" (or however you want to phrase it) software on Vista, your battery life can drop significantly. Anand tested OS battery life by running two programs that were designed for OSX, not Vista, and found that the Vista performance deficit was almost exactly the same as the one you found by running "poorly optimized" software.

    That the cuplrit in your case was almost certainly Flash (which Anand didn't run) is relevant, but doesn't address the idea that by running software in an environment that it wasn't designed/optimized for it is possible to significantly impact your battery life. To quote myself from the other article:

    "I doubt it will make much difference, but in the interest of fair play I too would like to see the tests [OSX v. Vista] redone [using standard Vista programs]."
    Reply

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