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
POST A COMMENT

93 Comments

View All Comments

  • piroroadkill - Wednesday, June 9, 2010 - link

    I have a brand new Macbook on my desk here at work, as well as newish (Phenom X3) desktop with Windows 7.

    For a while it's been the case that I don't really care which OS I use for random tasks.

    On balance, I prefer windows simply because I can game when I want to.

    I never have the huge number of problems people seem to run into. Infact, I've had to force the Macbook off by holding down the power button more than once, so neither is perfect.
    Reply
  • Ninjahedge - Wednesday, June 9, 2010 - link

    Been there, done that.

    After my mother had her laptop crash consistantly when using school scheduling and grading software that the schools tech staff could not fix (many lost days in productivity) I have to say Apple is not necessarily always golden.

    Does that mean that PC is better for this? Not necessarily (as I do not have any direct experience with that. Apple has done a good job flooding the Education segment with their products from almost day one. Hell, I still remember "computer" class on an Apple IIe!!!!!)

    The only frustrating thing I find about the Mac is simply, well, simplicity. One person put it on another post it is the difference between "tone" and a 40 band graphic equalizer. Apple has a good amp, and a simple "tone" knob". PC's have that equalizer. Problem with PC's is that 4 BILLION different companies make those equalizers and YMMV (The Yiddish Equalizer puts Bass on the RHS!!! ;) )

    Anyway, that 1 day thing is a crock. I DO AGREE however, that you need to use BOTH for more than a few minutes to get a feel for them, their OS, their available programs and hardware and how they fit your lifestyle.

    If either stank, they would not be around this long.

    Period.
    Reply
  • The0ne - Wednesday, June 9, 2010 - link

    Don't blame you guys for wanting some simple and stable to run on. You have what is essentially given as-is to you. You work within its limitation as well, as with all Apple products. So while this type of "closed" product is good for some it's not so great with others.

    Then you have the Windows OS PC side where you should expect issues. That's because just about everyone has a thing for it. If they screw up the PC screws up. But there's great flexibility there and you do have spend time to find the right products; which in itself is a fun thing for some :)

    So other than bashing one of the other, just enjoy how the PC suits your needs currently. And if you need should change, as it usually does, just pray that whatever product you have will allow it :) This to me the the most crucial.
    Reply
  • gcor - Wednesday, June 9, 2010 - link

    That's a rather insulting reply.

    In the past I've been professionally employed as a systems engineer, integrating Windows, unix and mainframe (IBM, Fujitsu, etc) systems. I've architected, designed and developed large scale multi-tier transaction processing systems across all these platforms, including middle ware products.

    From there I moved into the R&D of a 3G mobile network, actively architecting, designing and implementing parts of one of the most successful 3G networks currently being operated.

    If this makes me one of the people you consider a "moron" and that Windows is "clearly too taxing on their mental abilities", then so be it.

    Thank you for your considered and polite input to the debate.
    Reply
  • BlendMe - Wednesday, June 9, 2010 - link

    Do any of you remember Anand's first Mac article?

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/1500

    Good stuff!
    Reply
  • effortless - Wednesday, June 9, 2010 - link

    I do not see how people can even allow themselves to complain. The MacBook Pro 13 features great construction quality (UniBody), has got premium speakers and a premium display, along with the best battery in the business. After all, nearly 10 hours web browsing with that performance behind is an incredible unmatched ratio.

    That it is thin and does not all excessive bulk anywhere (pretty much a flat surface), is to me more important than some ultra-portables weighing a few 100g less. Volume is what matters when you put it into a bag or similar.

    Otherwise everything about it just reeks of quality. I've tried the trackpad and the keyboard, and they both instantly became my favorites among the few notebooks I've tried with chicklet keys.

    Additionally, if you go to college, you can get an iPod Touch, eligible for upgrade to the new iOS4, for free. Considering how the trends state that you get more money in return when selling your Mac, than a PC, I personally consider the price tag a steal.

    I am really not weary to understand the hate against Apple. Sure, they do not support all standards, as they place bets only on the horses they in the future predict will be predominant. An adapter can solve pretty much any video output issue, whereas you have BootCamp in case you need Windows for something. Since let us face it, few among you have heard about people returning from OSX to Windows, as the former is simply superior in terms of user interface. Then what is there left to complain about? That they use dirty tricks in their marketing? I think most businesses do, and Apple has made a clear effort to actually improve their products to become eco-friendly and efficient. So even if their thoughts are somewhere else entirely (money & profit), these changes to apply to changes in reality.
    Reply
  • The0ne - Wednesday, June 9, 2010 - link

    No complaints from me this time. The review was nicely done with little to no "ohh, woww, OMG" type of personal inputs. That I can live with as I'm actually reading a review rather than having to sort through all the irrelevant, persuasive comments.

    This time, I don't see how some could bash the review hahaha Nice work Anand.
    Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Thursday, June 10, 2010 - link

    The PC fanboys seem absolutely threatened by any Mac reviews on this site, its lunacy.

    I myself use and like both Windows PCs and Macs, so whatever
    Reply
  • Exodite - Wednesday, June 9, 2010 - link

    It seems clear to me that the new 13" MBP is really the best the new lineup can offer.

    While many of my pet peeves remain, such as the glossy display, poor resolution, lack of good connectivity choices etc. the improved graphics performance, battery and bumped minimum specs actually puts it back in the running as an option for a truly portable computer.

    While the lack of a 'modern' CPU is an issue on paper I have to say nothing about the actual performance seems that bad to me.
    Reply
  • sil0nt - Wednesday, June 9, 2010 - link

    Anand,

    I'd like to see an SSD comparison on one of the Mac platforms to understand which drives hold up the best in the non-TRIM aware OX S. There are some benchmarks out there, but none with your rigorous testing methodology.
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now