Notebook Performance, Netbook Battery Life

For light web browsing, emails and general writing, many have looked to the netbook as an answer. You get a ton of battery life but the minute you try to do something a little more intensive you're reminded that you own a netbook.

Two years ago Apple shipped a 68WHr battery in its top of the line 17-inch MacBook Pro. Today, the new 13-inch MacBook Pro comes with a 63.5WHr battery. That's absurd.

The result is that the 13-inch MBP gives you a good balance of available performance and battery life. Even better than the 15-inch thanks to the lower power CPU and absent discrete GPU. When you're just lightly using the machine you can get nearly 10 hours of battery life. But the system is always responsive, even if you need more out of it.

Light Web Browsing

Our first test is the one that yields the longest battery life: the light web browsing test. Here we're simply listing to MP3s in iTunes on repeat while browsing through a series of webpages with no flash on them. Each page forwards on to the next in the series after 20 seconds.

The display is kept at 50% brightness, all screen savers are disabled, but the hard drive is allowed to go to sleep if there's no disk activity. The wireless connection is enabled and connected to a local access point less than 20 feet away. This test represents the longest battery life you can achieve on the platform while doing minimal work. The results here are comparable to what you'd see typing a document in TextEdit or reading documents.

The new 13-inch MacBook Pro lasts another 19% longer compared to the new 15-inch. This is now the best battery life Apple offers in a notebook. At 9.75 hours we're in netbook/CULV territory but with a normal 2.40GHz Core 2 Duo.

Flash Web Browsing

Our next test more closely simulates a very heavy web browsing scenario. The test here has three Safari windows open, each browsing a set of web pages with between 1 - 4 animated flash ads per page, at the same time. Each page forwards onto the next after about 20 seconds.

As always, the display is set to 50% brightness, audio at two bars, screensaver disabled and the hard drive is allowed to go to sleep if idle. The wireless connection is enabled and connected to a local access point less than 20 feet away.

We had to rerun our flash web browsing tests now that Apple fixed the Snow Leopard Safari/Flash battery life issue so we don't have a full list of numbers here. The battery life improvement over the new 15-inch is pretty small here, only 6%. I'm guessing Hyper Threading is at work to keep Flash execution nice and efficient on the Core i5.

XviD Video Playback

Watching movies on your laptop is very realistic usage model, but I wanted to spice it up a bit. The DVD playback test is so done, I wanted something a little more forward looking. I ripped The Dark Knight to XviD and played it back continuously in QuickTime X with Perian installed.

For this test the display was set to full brightess and audio was set at two bars below maximum. Once more the hard drive was allowed to go to sleep if it was idle. The AirPort (wireless LAN) was enabled and connected to a local access point less than 20 feet away.

You can get 4.65 hours of battery life out of the new 13-inch while watching XviDs, that amounts to two full movies and maybe some spare battery life to get some work done.

Multitasking Battery Life

Our final battery life test is the worst case scenario. In this test we have three open Safari windows, each browsing a set of web pages with between 1 - 4 flash ads per page, at the same time. We're also playing an XviD video in a window all while downloading files from a server at approximately 500KB/s.

The Core i5 and Core i7 based MacBook Pros have the ability to be more power efficient than their predecessors as well as draw more power, all dependent on what sort of workload you subject them to. In our worst case battery life test the new 13-inch manages a bit over 3.5 hours, a full 25.8% longer than the 15-inch Core i5.

General Performance: A Mild Improvement The Display: Just as Good
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  • runebinder - Saturday, June 26, 2010 - link

    Huh? I have a glossy screen too, abysmal is certainly not a word I'd associate with it. I'm sitting in a brightly lit room atm and having no issues with the screen at all. In a pitch dark room it's great. Yes the colours may be more accurate on the matte, however I much prefer the glossy, the contrast ratios are better and everything looks more vivid.

    If yours looks that bad I suggest you get it looked at as it sounds defective.
    Reply
  • Aenslead - Wednesday, June 9, 2010 - link

    Another rather irrelevant review of an outdated, expensive, fruit-themed, fanboi toy that still cannot convince me to try it over an ASUS or CLEVO notebook.

    That's all I have to say. Have a nice one.
    Reply
  • mathias_mm - Wednesday, June 9, 2010 - link

    Seriously, I wish people like you could just get banned. Why do you care to comment on the article if you have nothing constructive to say? It really is just flamebaiting, and everyone knows the Mac users will never stop using Macs because of crap like that, just like it's quite apparent you'll never even try a Mac. Reply
  • Aenslead - Wednesday, June 9, 2010 - link

    It's my opinion and I'm entitled to express it as I see fit. I'm an avid AT reader and I will share my thoughts whenever I want, however I want, regardless of what you think. And the fact that you replied means it wasn't an irrelevant comment for you. :)

    I as well have been reading AT since it began, and don't quite fancy how now every 5/10 reviews are somehow Apple related.

    And yes, I will never get a Mac.
    Reply
  • mathias_mm - Wednesday, June 9, 2010 - link

    Okay, maybe I overreacted with the whole banning thing. I'm just sick and tired of this endless flaming it always ends up with, and it always starts with someone writing fanboi or whatever, in a comment saying "I'll never have none of that" or something else that means nothing. Why is that discussion so important to so many people? Is it a matter of pride to support x company instead of y?
    And that is why i decided to comment. The comment itself remains irrelevant, but the tone and the purpose of it (or at least the effect it usually has), is relevant if you value a meaningful discussion in the comments. Which i do.

    I also fail to see how the amount of time you've been here is relevant at all. I've been reading the site for what i guess must be around the same time, some times more often than others, but that doesn't mean i can come here and post whatever. And if Anand prefers to write more about Macs, too bad for you, I really doubt he ever started the site for you in the first place.

    And I will also state you should try a Mac seriously some time. I'm not saying buy one, but try t out somehow. Can it ever hurt? :)
    Reply
  • Aenslead - Thursday, June 10, 2010 - link

    Totally agree. I do not think someone like Anand would care to please me - he is bright enough to do whatever he pleases with HIS site, which, I must say, is the one I fully trust in reviews and comments.

    My post was not meant to be productive, constructive or helpful at all - it was a rant. I complained about something I didn't like. Sort of like "why do women get PMS?!"

    I've gone through hell with Mac's, honestly. The business I own provides support for Mac and PC users alike - my latest fight was trying to get a conventional cablemodem-router network to work with a MacBook Pro, a 27" iMac, and some PCs. the MBP kept acquiring 189.170.xx.xx addys, whereas the DHCP was enabled and configured to 192.168.1.xx - setting it manually helped, but it did not enable discovery of the MBP, and could not configure a Calendar program to share schedule with the rest of the PCs.

    I found them less intuitive, more complicated, hardly friendly-user than even a Windows 95 PC.

    I have a PowerMac G4 and a 15" MBP (GF8500, C2D) at the office for software testing and I even tried once or twice to use them as my main working machines, but failed. Linux-failure type, you know? "It's cool, but... I just don't find my way through it".

    Maybe I'm a PC fanboi. Maybe it's what I enjoy the most, besides ranting. I will take a Core i5 Alienware M11x ANY DAY over this Mac.
    Reply
  • B3an - Friday, June 11, 2010 - link

    Aenslead, i totally agree with you.

    And i think Apple in general get way more press and coverage than they deserve, especially on yank sites.

    Also do not like how Anand always seems to be a little bias when reviewing Apple gear, he does not point out obvious floors like he would in other hardware reviews.
    Reply
  • zer0sum - Wednesday, June 9, 2010 - link

    Maybe put a little more thought into your opinion next time...
    The last ten Anandtech reviews are as follows:

    HTC EVO 4G
    MBP 13
    Acer Ferrari One
    OSX Steam performance
    AVADirect Clevo W860CU
    Value SSD Roundup
    ASrock X58
    HP ZR30w LCD
    Asus U30Jc
    Nvidia GTX465

    Throw in at least 3-4 other stories about Asus Computex, Eee Pad and tablet as well.
    Hell, they haven't even mentioned the iphone 4 yet!!

    Whilst you might find an Asus or a clevo more to your liking a lot of people buy a 13" MBP pro because it has some truly impressive features over other brands

    Design, dimensions, weight, build quality, battery life, operating system, trackpad and gestures, firewire800, applications, etc.

    For reference I have a new 13" MBP, a 2008 15" MBP and a new MSI GX640.
    There is no perfect laptop for me and they all have their pros and cons obviously...
    Reply
  • Johnmcl7 - Wednesday, June 9, 2010 - link

    Agreed - for a technical site there's an awful lot of Apple coverage even when there's little to write about while genuinely innovative and more technologically advanced machines are ignored. Specifically I'm surprised the site has never covered the new Sony Z series - Sony have managed to do what Apple claim isn't possible by having up to an i7 processor in a 13in chassis with an Nvidia GT 330m that's smaller and lighter than the 13in Apple Macbook as well as pack in *four* SSDs and packing a 1080p display. Despite all the power it packs, its hybrid graphics setup allows for long batterylife, it also offers an extended battery. I think there's a lot to benchmark and test there particularly the likes of Trim support and general performance of the quad SSDs. Reply
  • Tros - Thursday, June 10, 2010 - link

    Care to mention a model number? I can only find the 13-inch Vaio VPCZ1190X on Sony's website, which comes with NONE of those features, except for a disclaimed 7.5-hour battery life. If you halved pretty much all of those specs and got rid of the GT330m, that matches the Vaio VPC1190X.

    And innovative? Not really. A keyboard backlight is innovative (and Sony was beaten to the punch by a few years). Auto-adjusting screen brightness is innovative (IIRC, Alienware did this a long time ago). Utilizing an accelerometer to shutdown HDDs before crash-impact is innovative (credit to IBM ThinkPads). The multi-touch finger gestures are innovative (first saw this in X11). Switching to a LLVM compiler to transparently take advantage of GPGPU power when it's magnitudes faster/efficient than CPU computation is innovative (Apple). This Vaio laptop? This is doubling transistors among of a sea of manufacturers that believe doubling transistors is the only way to make a better PC. The 13-inch MBP gets special attention for the innovations it brings to the tech-world, while nearly all PC manufacturers depend heavily on CPU-upgrades to sell their machines. More power to AT for focusing on innovations, rather than every variant of laptop that has a few hundred more megahertz.
    Reply

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