Disappointing MBA (Ultimate) Battery Life

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by treynolds, Jul 22, 2011.

  1. treynolds, Jul 22, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2011

    macrumors regular

    treynolds

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Location:
    Seattle
    #1
    I have an MBA Ultimate that I purchased last fall. When new, I could easily get estimated battery times of 8+ hours. Now, after a full charge, I get maybe 4:20, which drops to 3:30 or so after 2 or 3 minutes of use. I ran a test yesterday with NO apps running, NO bluetooth, WiFi on and the screen set to minimum brightness. No sound playing, no videos, nothing. The battery drained to shut-down after only 2:20.

    This is appalling!

    Oh yeah, I have ClickToFlash installed and have looked for apps that might be running the CPU excessively, but the only thing Activity Monitor says is that the Dock is sucking CPU.

    What are my options?

    What have others here done in similar circumstances?

    If I take it to a Genius, what will they say?

    Can I as to have the batteries replaced under warranty? (it's still WELL within the one year window....)

    Any input would be greatly appreciated.

    Tony
     
  2. macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

    Joined:
    May 16, 2008
    #2
  3. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2010
    #3
    Wait til your battery is completely drained, then charge it fully well into 100%.

    Do this every month.
     
  4. macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

    Joined:
    May 16, 2008
    #4
    That's not required and won't address the OP's issue. This should answer most, if not all, of your battery questions:
     
  5. thread starter macrumors regular

    treynolds

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Location:
    Seattle
    #5
  6. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2010
    #6
    How many charge cycles have you gone through? If it's close to or over 1000 then its normal for your battery to degrade, and you should definitely get it replaced. I think Apple gives one year warranty on the battery.

    Though it's extremely hard to get over 400 cycles a year (you'd have to charge your laptop more than once every day), unless you have kids who like to mess around and was plugging and unplugging your Air constantly.

    You should also try a clean install of OS X too. See if that helps. Maybe some program is draining your battery in the background
     
  7. macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

    Joined:
    May 16, 2008
    #7
    Parallels doesn't have to be running for that problem to exist.... only installed.
    Reinstalling the OS isn't necessary. A simple look at Activity Monitor will tell you if a process is consuming system resources.
     
  8. treynolds, Jul 22, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2011

    thread starter macrumors regular

    treynolds

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Location:
    Seattle
    #8
    Charge cycles are at 28.

    There are NO programs running in the background.
     
  9. macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

    Joined:
    May 16, 2008
    #9
    There are always processes running in the background. Launch Activity Monitor and change "My Processes" at the top to "All Processes". Then look to see what may be consuming system resources. I still suspect it's the Parallels issue.
     
  10. macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2007
    #10
    Whats the specific issue with parallels?
     
  11. thread starter macrumors regular

    treynolds

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Location:
    Seattle
    #11
    Yes, I understand that there are always processes running. What I meant was actual applications.

    I've installed the latest update to Parallels, will restart my machine and report back.

    Tony
     
  12. thread starter macrumors regular

    treynolds

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Location:
    Seattle
    #12
    There is a problem with the maintenance of the icon in the dock after installing Snow Leopard 10.6.8.
     
  13. macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

    Joined:
    May 16, 2008
    #13
    Read the 2nd post in this thread.
     
  14. treynolds, Jul 22, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2011

    thread starter macrumors regular

    treynolds

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Location:
    Seattle
    #14
    Results After Parallels Patch Install

    Initial estimate after installing the newest Parallels update (Build 12092), shutting down the MBA and doing a charge:

    100% charge, 11:11 for the time remaining. 29 cycles on the battery

    I know that "time remaining" is a continually moving target, but this is MUCH better. As you can see from the low number of battery charge cycles for a Machine purchased in October of 2010, I only charge the MBA when it needs it and do NOT keep it plugged into the charger all the time. But then this is not my main machine either.

    I'm glad that I was able to use the Activity Monitor (much as I do with Task Manager in Windows) to see that there was problem with the Dock eating CPU cycles.

    Thanks loads to GGJstudios for taking a guess that the problem could be Parallels, which it was. This forum is GREAT, and is always the FIRST place I turn for help! Far better, IMO, than going to the Genius Bar, as I'm convinced I have access to a far better, more extensive knowledge-base here.

    Battery has now gone to 99% and 9:52 after being on for the time it's taken to write this... And, great balls 'o fire, the CPU temp is down from 174 degrees F to 113 degrees!

    Thanks!

    Tony
     
  15. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2011
    #15
    I got mine little test as shown:

    • 80° F (26.67° C) inside
    • 13" i7 50% brightness -
    w/ Moom + Little Snitch 2.4 + Caffine + WiFi on + Mail + iStat Menu 3 + Quicktime X playing…

    (1) iTunes SD version movie in Full Screen Mode
    The result ends up with… 20 mins / 5% battery life, which means 6 hrs 40 mins/ 100% battery life
    Temp is around 57°~59° C.

    (2) iTunes HD version movie in Full Screen Mode
    The result ends up with 15 mins / 5% battery life, which means 5hrs / 100% battery life
    Temp is around 63°~66° C.
     
  16. unagimiyagi, Jul 22, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2011

    macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    #16
    Hey guys,

    http://reviews.cnet.com/laptops/apple-macbook-air-11/4505-3121_7-34850077-2.html?tag=rvwBody

    I am always suspicious, but according to the video playback test, the 2011 13" mba lasts dramatically, even suspiciously, longer than the 2010 model.

    Other reviews didn't mention that. Is there some type of optimization in Sandy Bridge that allows for this? Is not playing back video more demanding than general surfing (as long as flash is disabled)?

    OK, well in this review:
    http://thisismynext.com/2011/07/22/apple-macbook-air-13-inch-mid-2011/

    the battery life on the 13" is 12 minutes longer than last year's 13"


    OK fine. I'm concluding that the battery life is indeed similar to last year's, with TWICE the performance. I'll bite.
     
  17. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2006
    #17
    I don't know if Sandy Bridge is that much better but more battery life with video play back, especially with 720/1080p is expected. Intel was touting low playback thanks to the enhanced encode/decode hardware and better power management.

    Here you do see the 13-inch 2011 Macbook Pro got 20% better battery life in Xvid video playback than the 2010 model: http://www.anandtech.com/show/4205/the-macbook-pro-review-13-and-15-inch-2011-brings-sandy-bridge/15
     
  18. thread starter macrumors regular

    treynolds

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Location:
    Seattle
    #18
    I don't know about many of these tests and how well they actually relate in real life, as it's really rare that anyone would really be on their MBA doing work in multi-hour stretches. We all take breaks, Every time the system goes to sleep, the battery has time to recover slightly, which also helps the overall time.

    In my normal use, I may use my MBA from a few minutes to an hour or so before closing the lid and allowing it to sleep. My MBA isn't my main computer, but still, I would like to know that if I really needed it in an offsite setting, I could count on being able to use it for most of a business day. I have my MBA loaded up to use as a full-up business machine if I need it, MS Office 2010, CS4, Parallels with WinXP Pro and ACAD 2010 LT. The MBA is the machine that's always with me, always in my backpack. My new Dell M4600 Precision stays on my desk at work most of the week and only comes home on the weekends. The MBA goes on trips. The Dell does not.

    That's why my battery life (before loading the Parallels patch) was so shocking and why I was suspicious that there was something running in the background. That and the fact that the fan was running at a higher speed than normal. I'm glad for the tip that was given above and that I was able to get the MBA running properly again. Problem is, this is not the first time I've had a process running amuck slowing the machine down and draining the battery, which is more what I would expect with a Windows machine. Oh well, I guess the moral of the story is that one has to be vigilant to keep any machine running at peak performance.
     
  19. macrumors 601

    clyde2801

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2008
    Location:
    In the land of no hills and red dirt.
    #19
    possible explanation

    Hey, OP, what kind of display do you have?

    My original 13" ultimate had a LG display...pretty darned bright at 40%, but bad color saturation and contrast. Great battery life.

    My replacement has the samsung display...much nicer, deeper, richer colors and contrast, but it won't do 40% power. Battery life doesn't appear to be as long, but I'm willing to live with the tradeoffs.

    Betcha you have a samsung, am I right?
     
  20. thread starter macrumors regular

    treynolds

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Location:
    Seattle
    #20
    I don't know what kind of display I have. Never had any issues and colors have always seemed good. I can use it at minimum brightness indoors without issues.

    How do I find out the display manufacturer?
     

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