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, 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
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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  • ProDigit - Monday, September 21, 2009 - link

    I just read the Intel senior vice president is called Anand Chandrasekher. I wonder if he has anything to do with Anadtech?
  • Wwhat - Sunday, September 20, 2009 - link

    Adblock doesn't just help by blocking flash but also by preventing tons of scripts the adcompanies run I bet, you should test that by also trying it with flashblock instead of adblock if you want to be sure.
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, September 20, 2009 - link

    In progress... obviously, the impact of Flash/FlashBlock will depend on how many Flash ads are on a page as well.
  • Starcub - Friday, September 18, 2009 - link

    I just installed Safari 4 a few days ago along side Explorer 8. Then I saw this article, and when I saw the large difference between IE8 and S4, I decided to test out how much processor usage they each used. So I closed out IE8 and loaded the article up in S4 and found that both cores on my T5500 CPU went from ~5% to over 20% usage on the same page.

    S4 pages seemed to look nicer than on IE8, and the performance seems a little better too. S4 also has a TSR spellchecking feature enabled by default, and puts borders around text boxes. All these things, and there are probably still more default processes, require CPU cycles to execute.

    I've decided I'm going to do my civic duty and use IE instead of Safari in order to reduce my carbon footprint (except on pages IE8 has problems with @!#%$!) :)

    Thanks for a very informative article!
  • - Monday, September 14, 2009 - link

    I'd love to see the different power usage differences between XP, Vista and Win7. Maybe you could test different OS's on older and new laptops, as well as older and newer desktops then compare the differneces. It could even be combined with different browsers, and see how each browser interacts with each different OS.

    I've heard someone say that actually XP is the most efficient power wise when they did an impromptu test of their own, but not sure whether it's really true.

    If web developers could develop more green friendly web sites on the server side, and consumers on the client side could make use the best combo of efficient OS, browser and plug-ins, it would be a step in the right direction.
  • JarredWalton - Monday, September 14, 2009 - link

    You're about one day early... I should have the results up for OS comparisons in the next day or so.
  • Fanfoot - Monday, September 14, 2009 - link

    Thought provoking piece. Also enjoyed your many well argued riposts to the various trolls here. Nicely done. I quite enjoy the people who won't accept that IE8 is better at power saving than other browsers simply because they don't like it.

    Power management is obviously just one of many reasons to choose a web browser. Personally the only thing I learned is you really shouldn't install Safari on a Windows Laptop. I'm planning to continue using Firefox for now. I'm too used to it, and all the plugins I use to switch FOR THE MOMENT.
  • neogodless - Monday, September 14, 2009 - link

    "If there is interest, we may look at extending this testing two other laptops in the future"
  • JarredWalton - Monday, September 14, 2009 - link

    Fixed, thanks. Bad speech recognition... BAD!
  • strandbygaard - Monday, September 14, 2009 - link

    Interesting experiment. Unfortunately, the article does not help us determine which is the more efficient browser. Lowest power usage DOES NOT equal most efficient!

    "Work done per watt" is actually the metric we're interested in. "Work" being defined as the number of web pages you can load per watt (multiplied by the load time to get the power usage).

    Consider this. If IE8 lets you run 10% longer, but Chrome gets you 40% more page views during the total runtime, it's rather obvious that Chrome would still be the most efficient choice.

    What would be really interesting would be for AnandTech to redo the experiment while counting the number of page views, so we could determine the efficiency of each browser.

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