Battery Life: Minor and Major Improvements

As mentioned earlier, ASUS finally moved to something slightly higher capacity than the 48Wh batteries we’ve seen in so many entry-level notebooks. The result is better battery life, but compared to Arrandale it’s not a huge change in two of our tests. The third test is H.264 playback, and that shows a large increase in battery life. We’ve got the same laptops that we used in our application tests for these charts, but if you want more comparison points we suggest checking out Mobile Bench, where we have results for every laptop we’ve tested in the past year. For example, here’s how the K53E stacks up to one of the few Arrandale-only laptops we’ve tested, the Dell Latitude E6410.

Battery Life - Idle

Battery Life - Internet

Battery Life - H.264 Playback

Relative Battery Life

The ASUS K53E places near the top of our battery life charts, with over seven hours of idle battery life, six hours of Internet surfing, and almost 4.5 hours of H.264 video playback. There’s still a sizeable gap between the K53E and laptops like the U41JF, but that’s more a case of battery capacity than efficiency. With a similar size battery capacity (and a much smaller LCD), HP’s dm1z does last over an hour more in the idle and Internet tests. H.264 content is a place where Sandy Bridge excels, however, and with only a 10 minute difference between the 11.6”-screen HP dm1z and the 15.6”-screen ASUS K53E it’s pretty clear that’s one metric where SNB is more efficient. Looking at relative battery life (i.e. true power efficiency), the K53E is only bested by Brazos (and Atom and CULV) in the Internet test. Even the U41JF can’t match the K53E for efficiency, despite underclocking the i3-380M to 700-900MHz (instead of the normal 933-1200MHz) and having a smaller 14” LCD.

For other battery life tests, the K53E lasted just 73 to 83 minutes in simulated gaming (looping 3DMark06/03, respectively), so at heavy loads SNB clearly isn’t a panacea. Setting the LCD to 100% brightness (instead of 50%, which corresponds with 100nits), idle battery life drops 10%. Put another way, the LCD uses an extra 0.87W at 205nits. That’s a very low figure for a 15.6” LCD, but then the maximum brightness isn’t very impressive and as we’ll see shortly, the LCD is otherwise a complete disappointment. Calculated power draw at idle running on battery power is just 7.91W, which used to be Atom territory (though the ASUS Eee PC 1001P drops that figure to just 4.4W). Internet surfing bumps the average power use to 9.33W, which is still extremely good, and H.264 playback requires 12.58W. We’re basically looking at 6-15 times the performance of Atom (Pineview), all while requiring just 40-80% more power at low loads. Connecting the AC adapter, we saw slightly higher power draw at the outlet, but mostly that comes from the AC adapter efficiency.

There are a couple final points before we leave power and battery life discussions. First, all of this testing was done with a stock Windows 7 installation, so we didn’t use ASUS’ Power4Gear utility to further optimize power requirements (e.g. by shutting off the DVDRW on battery power). In the past, that has usually added at least a few percent to the battery life, which is one of the reasons ASUS’ current laptops often beat their competitors.

The other interesting piece of information is that with Core 2 and Core 2010, we always achieved maximum battery life by setting the CPU to run at 0% minimum and 0% maximum in the advanced power settings (as opposed to 0% min/100% max). With Sandy Bridge, idle battery life still benefits slightly, but it’s within the margin of error (425 vs. 429 minutes); H.264 playback is also within the margin of error (261 vs. 267 minutes), but this time setting the CPU to 0% min/100% max results in the higher battery life. The real kicker is the Internet test: set to 0/0%, the K53E lasted 311 minutes compared to 360 minutes at 0/100%. In other words, with Sandy Bridge it looks like the “hurry up and go to sleep” principle is finally working as intended. This is a pattern we’ve noticed on other SNB laptops, so you can now get the benefits of faster instantaneous performance and better efficiency, at least when you’re running light loads.

Sandy Bridge Gaming Performance, One More Time LCD, Temperatures, and Noise Levels


View All Comments

  • MrSpadge - Saturday, April 09, 2011 - link

    I'm totally with you here, Jarred.

    In this review and in the Brazos review it was made very clear that you can totally forget about Atom. And there's a reason you don't include a Pentium 1 laptop from 1995 in these reviews.

    And the i5-25xxM being about 4 times as fast as Brazos in CPU intensive tasks is certainly worth mentioning. You have to say it, because it's ******* true. Whether this matters to someone or not is an entirely different qeustion and up to everyone individually. I think you really made this totally clear.

  • kevlno3 - Saturday, July 30, 2011 - link

    be frank , CPU not your sport car. you hardly notice the different in your 80% of time while you using it for work.
    I would said we happy to see the technology improve , but we better make up our mind to look at value of money.
    RM1.4k for Llano , within another 3-4 months time vs RM2k core i5 or RM1.4k core i3 2310. what do u think? core i5 only help u fast loading the program. core i3 can't handle the game. Llano A3400 will handle both easily. of course if you keep look at benchmark , u unable to sleep even you have a Core i7. i just throw my intel extreme cpu.
  • lenghui - Monday, April 11, 2011 - link

    I agree with you, Jarred. I am a AMD fan, but the includsion and comparison of E-350 is valid and does not take away anything from your well written article. Keep up the nice work! Reply
  • tuskers - Wednesday, April 13, 2011 - link

    Fact-check: a simple search on Amazon for "E-350" can get you a 15.6" laptop for $357.70, as of this posting. Not exactly "around $450" or "$500 for similar components" as the article claims. And that's without even really looking for an affordable one. On the other hand, nothing in retail channels comes up for $600 on Amazon.

    In the article you artificially creep the price of what you're testing down, and creep the price of an E-350 solutions up, in order to make your claims that they're worth comparing. They're different segments: the E-350 was invented to be an ultraportable chip, and you're comparing it to a mainstream (or even desktop replacement) chip.

    People don't choose the E-350 because it's has a good graphics chip-- it merely has a good graphics chip for its market segment, compared to intel's CULV/UM, Atom, and Atom/Ion solutions.
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, April 13, 2011 - link

    Sony YB pricing is coming down, and it looks like the MSI X370 should start selling in the US for around $550 as well. And really, E-350 shouldn't ever go to $500, let alone $550, which is the point I have been making.

    So now Acer has a 15.6" E-350 system for $335 or whatever. Great. Twice the price gets you more than double the performance, and Acer's 15.6" designs have NOT impressed me in the past. Is it cheap and fast enough for some people, yes. You're still getting what you pay for.

    Acer Aspire 5253-BZ602:
    AMD E-350
    HD 6310M
    250GB 5400RPM HDD
    15.6" 1366x768 LCD
    2x1GB RAM (so if you want to upgrade, you throw out a 1GB SO-DIMM)
    6-cell battery (quoted battery life of just 3.3 hours... not sure what they ran for that test though)
    Win7 Home Premium

    For that much money, sure, it's a fair price, but as I've said this is what I felt netbooks should have been from day one. Atom just sucks too much, and while there are performance compromises with E-350 it's at least going to handle multimedia content. If I'm going to actually use a laptop on a daily basis, I'll save up and spend more money on a good quality device. Just because something is really cheap doesn't make it a great bargain.
  • kevlno3 - Saturday, July 30, 2011 - link

    in fact , battery life is because except Asus giving you 56wh in common, non of them give you this high capacity battery pack . Acer will only provide you 48wh , to avoid hurt his flagship timeline 66wh ,claim can go up to 8 hours.
    currently i using Dell , 48wh. i3 2310 only can last 3hours.
    my friend K43U , E350 last 6 hours office work. 4 hours in facebook game. (i recommend him to buy it, but i fall in the Intel trap) i need to sell my N4110 fast , just 2 days using it. i hope to see Llano base notebook sell at RM1.4k without the HD6650
  • kevlno3 - Saturday, July 30, 2011 - link

    infact Malaysia are selling RM1499 for HP DM1 , Asus K43U is just about RM1099. currently Malaysia ringgit is grow up , USD 1 convert to RM 3 (before this is RM3.8) you keep telling the fake answer , USD 600 ,it's RM1800 .(pervious is RM2.4k ) we can buy Core i5 with HD6470 RM1899 from Dell ,even Timeline 4830TG for RM2449, but not the E350. in fact i just get my brand new Dell N4110 ,core i3 2310+ HD6630 just RM1600.
    currently Acer 5560G , is selling RM1800 A3400 + HD6650.
    I dont think the 2310 (or even core i5) cpu is so good to keep battery life go long. in fact is only the Asus quality factory given 56wh instead of 48wh battery to extend the battery life. Currently my Dell N4110 hardly get even 3h10mins when setting 30% brightness , wifi on , power saving mode.
  • kevlno3 - Saturday, July 30, 2011 - link

    Dell N4110 core i3 2310 , HDD 500GB 7200rpm , HD6630 , 4GB . 14" LCD. this model you should do a review & tell whole world the Dell had a worse design ever . they put the 7200rpm HDD at the left palm rest area ,after 5mins turn on , it's start cook my palm. battery life even just 3hours 10 minutes.(HD3000 only) ,idle upto 5hours. power saving mode , 30% brightness , wifi & bluetooth on. only start maxthon 3 browser , no back ground program , no antivirus , no firewall. (this model seem like cant only turn on wifi)
    in air condition room you wouldn't notice that much about the left palm area heat issue. but i wonder how much lousy engineer work inside Dell.
  • kevlno3 - Saturday, July 30, 2011 - link

    actually i dont mind you put the E350 , i like to know more review before i do a purchase. but in term of battery life the major reason not the CPU ,but the factory who willing give u the 56wh above battery pack.
    i buy Dell major reason is the person who doing promotion to sell it at RM1.6k . but the core i3 2310 not perform as what i read in most review. i read the Toshiba intel B940 can acheived 5h28mins . most of the review also show core i3 2310 will go up to 4-5 hours. but in fact it's just 3hours.
    now 2h15mins -56% , but in fact starting battery drop so fast , & it's doesn't me 4h 30mins even i just unplug the adapter.
  • fic2 - Friday, April 08, 2011 - link

    "lots of people rip on Intel's graphics as being unfit for just about anything"

    Lots of people rip on Intel's graphics because until Sandy Bridge they weren't fit for anything.

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