Battery Life (Windows vs OS X)

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Pentad, Oct 21, 2013.

  1. Pentad macrumors 6502a


    Nov 26, 2003
    There is a great article on just how bad Windows is when it comes to battery life. They ran some great numbers on Mac notebooks comparing OS X vs Windows.

    I knew Windows was not as good as OS X but I was actually shocked at how badly Windows really is. Given their size, money, and push with Intel Surface Pros, I thought they would have done better. Especially with Windows 8.x.

    You can read it here.

  2. OneCharmingQuar macrumors member

    Sep 19, 2013
    The argument presented is problematic. Apple's Windows drivers are widely acknowledged as not being very good. It's hard to do an unbiased test since Apple does not support other hardware than their own. The fact that the Macbook Air 13" only gets 7 hrs 40 min on Windows 8 is a dead giveaway of the poor drivers for Macbooks, or an error on Anand's part. There are several hardware factors that can account for a differences between Macbooks and Windows 8 devices without resorting to os differences:

    TN panel vs IPS panel - The TN panel used in non-retina Macbooks gives worse image quality, but consumes less power.
    Screen resolution - Higher screen resolution means more backlighting. This in turns means more power consumption for a given brightness
    Touch - The touch digitiser consumes power. It might not be much, but the batteries in these devices aren't that big to begin with.
    Stylus - The Surface Pro uses a Wacom pen. This means that the screen has to produce a magnetic field. This consumes power.

    The article states that Anand was unable to find any Windows OEMs that could produce a Windows laptop that matches Macbooks in terms of battery life. I think I have two possible candidates. I will be using Notebookcheck's measurements. They review very many laptops and are probably the most rigorous reviewers on the net.

    They have a Wifi surfing test. They set the screen brightness to 150 nit, and use a script to simulate web surfing. Under these conditions the rMBP makes it to 6 hrs 4 min. The 13" Macbook Air makes it to 10 hrs 23 min. Yes, you can get longer battery life under other circumstances, but the same can be said for the Windows notebooks.

    In this test the XPS 12 manages 8 hours 47 minutes. The battery is the same size as the Macbook Air, but the screen is only 85% as big. Doesn't sound so good for the XPS 12 so far. In the XPS 12's favour is a touch screen, IPS panel (roughly 15% higher power consumption from what I've read), and 60% percent higher screen resolution. To me it seems like the XPS 12 should have slightly lower battery life based on components, and that is what the test demonstrates. Interestingly, Notebookcheck's Windows 7 test on the Macbook Air game significantly better battery life than Anand's test. This suggests to me that there may have been errors made on Anand's part, especially given that Windows 8 has given slightly better battery life than Windows 7 in tests that I've seen. Anyway, this seems to be a well-executed Windows convertible that seems to defy the notion that Windows ruins battery life.

    Then there's the case of the Samsung Series 7 Chronos. Under the same circumstances that the Macbook Pro Retina manages barely over 6 hours, the Chronos manages 10 hours and 42 minutes. This beats even the Air, although it's a very different notebook. The Chronos has a smaller batter than the rMBP. Does this mean that OS X gives horrible battery life? Of course not! There are plenty of hardware differences that help explain the difference. The rMBP has a much, much higher resolution IPS display. In the Chronos favour are normal DDR3 RAM, the slightly smaller battery, and an HDD. Like with the Windows notebooks the display on the rMBP seems to drive down battery life on the rMBP by a significant amount.

    I have seen tests comparing Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows XP. XP had better battery life than the two others. 8 had slightly better battery life than 7, but not a meaningful amount. This was on a business notebook that had good support for all three operating systems from the manufacturer, something one cannot assume for Apple notebooks running Windows. This does suggest that the operating system can negatively affect battery life, but it's hard to use this in a comparison between Windows and OS X. Things might also change with the release of Mavericks, which will almost certainly tip things in Apple's favour.
  3. dusk007 macrumors 68040


    Dec 5, 2009
    The difference between various Windows notebooks shows that it is not an operating system issue but a driver and power management optimization issue.
    Samsungs Series 9 yielded great battery life while some Acer barely managed half the runtime per Wh with otherwise similar hardware and the very same OS running.

    Apple's bootcamp drivers are stable and that is it. They don't do anything but the most essential power optimizations. That is a lot of work and they have little interest in making the Windows experience too good. Windows for Apple is supposed to be used by gamers and people that would otherwise avoid buying a Mac. They still want you to feel more comfortable in OSX.
  4. fratey macrumors regular

    May 6, 2010
    "I knew Windows was not as good as OS X but I was actually shocked at how badly Windows really is."

    I'm shocked at how dumb this thread is.

    * Assuming that a Macbook with bad drivers getting bad battery life on Windows is completely Windows fault.
    * Directly comparing the battery life of a low-resolution ULV laptop with a crappy TN panel versus a tablet laptop with an IPS panel and a digitizer.

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