Chrome vs. Firefox for MBA Battery Life

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by blairh, Aug 7, 2011.

  1. blairh, Aug 7, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2011

    blairh macrumors 68040


    Dec 11, 2007
    Hey everybody.

    So I'm on day 3 of my 2011 11" MBA. Everything is terrific except for one thing: battery life. Coming from a 2009 13" MBP I'm noticing that while operating at the same levels as I had with my MBP (screen brightness, wifi on, bluetooth off, keyboard brightness halfway lit) I'm getting significantly less battery life on my MBA when it's disconnected from the power adapter. From my limited testing (same settings as my old MBP across the board) I'm lasting roughly 3 hrs and 20 mins till the battery completely dies. With my MBP I'd easily get a full hour more or even sometimes up to 90 mins more than my current MBA.

    I'm currently using Chrome as my web browser (not a fan of Safari) and am curious what others think about perhaps opting for Firefox instead. I know this discussion is going to quickly lead towards the topic of Flash, and right now I'm not using any Flash blockers with Chrome (and yes I have Flash installed, not having it is not an option for me).

    Does anyone have any experience comparing the performance of Chrome or Firefox with respect to battery life on their 2011 MBA? If you think Firefox will provide me with more battery life (compared to Chrome) do I need to delete Chrome entirely from my machine or just not have it up and running?

    Lastly, dimming the screen more than what I use by default (roughly 75%) is not an option for me. I can't see the screen well by dimming it anymore than that.

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    UPDATE: Check out post #25 in this thread to see my browser battery life test results.
  2. hefeglass macrumors 6502a

    Apr 21, 2009
    have you run the battery down completely till the computer goes into permanent sleep, then let it sit off for several hours, then charge it all the way up. that cycles the battery and helps calibrate.
    These batteries actually perform better after a few cycles..

    my battery health on this new 13 I'm on was down to 95% when i first got it, after a few cycles its back up to near perfect capacity.
  3. blairh thread starter macrumors 68040


    Dec 11, 2007

    I have not. I was planning on doing this at some point either this week or next.
  4. DustinT macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2011
    My understanding is that Safari on Snow Leopard offered the best battery life. I'd suggest you give that a try. If it works, using a flash blocker can only make it better.
  5. jackyyeow macrumors 6502

    Jul 5, 2011
    I notice no difference, or ever so slight difference in battery life, between Snow Leopard Safari on 2010 13" and Lion Safari on 2011 13".

    Coming from firefox user albeit PC, I find safari can do just about anything I want - which is basic browsing and watching youtubes. I don't know why people not liking safari?:confused:
  6. KylePowers macrumors 68000


    Mar 5, 2011
    I like Chrome the best.

    Safari is decent with Lion since it supports two-finger swipe Back/Forward, but the dev build of Chrome supports it (albeit not as nice yet).

    One thing I don't like about Safari is how it doesn't show the favorites icons on the bookmark bar. Now, there might be a way to enable this, but I never looked for it. I also don't like how the search bar and address bar are separate.

    Sarfari does however support Fullscreen a lot better than Chrome right now; though, it's not too bad (cmd+shft+F) and I constantly use it.
  7. onthecouchagain macrumors 604


    Mar 29, 2011
    Are people still calibrating batteries on newly purchased Airs? I was under the impression that those didn't need calibration right away; not until after a month or two of use?
  8. Fernandez21 macrumors 601


    Jun 16, 2010
    It's because, just like iTunes, its horrible on windows. I played with safari on Mac at the apple store and was very surprised by how much better it was than the windows version I tried a couple of months ago.
  9. LightOnAHill macrumors regular

    Jun 26, 2010
    only safari seems to have the two-finger back gesture. I blog with chrome but surf w safai
  10. uicandrew macrumors 6502a

    Jan 19, 2006
    chrome is a unique browser in the sense that it will run flash content as needed without needing to download flash player from adobe.

    safari and firefox needs you to download flash on mba (late 2010 and the new ones, at the very least) before running flash.

    as it has been reported on numerous mac sites, flash ravages battery life.

    As a result, you probably have been draining battery life by surfing via chrome and viewing flash content without even downloading flash player in the first place.

    in other words.... go with firefox.
  11. KylePowers macrumors 68000


    Mar 5, 2011
    Dev build of Chrome supports it. I use it all the time.
    I installed FlashBlock on Chrome. I think it's just like ClickToFlash for Safari (I think that's what it's called). Instead of loading the flash content, there's just a little icon in which you can click to load the flash object. My battery doesn't seem to be hampered by my browsing, and I think FlashBlock has a lot to do with it.
  12. blairh thread starter macrumors 68040


    Dec 11, 2007
    Flash does indeed ravage the battery on the current MBA's. I deleted Chrome from my machine, added Firefox (without installing Flash) and in my brief time browsing I could clearly see the battery life dropping much more slowly.

    The thing with my initial Chrome test was that I wasn't even browsing sites with flash (or at least viewing sites with Flash video) and even with that established I was getting, IMO, poor battery life.

    I've gone ahead and downloaded Flash (sadly) because I can't browse all the sites I frequent without it. What I might do is add Chrome back, get a Flash blocker extension for all 3 browsers (Safari, Chrome, Firefox) and then report my battery life findings. Probably will take a few days as I'm busy right now.

    On a related note, can someone help me with Back/Forward with respect to all three browsers and hand gestures on the trackpad? I couldn't get it to work with Chrome or Firefox just yet.
  13. sprockett macrumors member

    May 19, 2008
    i have all three for my development work...

    however, for general surfing, i use safari 100% of the time (clicktoplugin installed to block flash).

    Generally, opening stuff like gmail etc seems more efficient on safari than others.
  14. B737 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 22, 2008
    Jersey Shore
    did the OP mention what OS hes on?
    i have 13" MBA early 2011, the battery used to rock, it would last a week normal usage for me. now on Lion its much worse. but i do get about 6 hours of usage out of it.

    One important thing.. Firefox and chrome can BOTH have two finger front and back, it just needs to be set up properly.

    that said, three finger swipe to jump page down or up is broken and so are drop down submenus in firefox on lion... :(

    not a fan of lion :(
  15. newdeal macrumors 68020

    Oct 21, 2009

    yes lion sucks. regardless you should install a flash blocker either on Chrome or safari and your life will increase. also the 11" only advertises 5 hours and the 2009 mbp was a 7 hour battery so it makes sense that the mbp lasts longer. I wouldn't expect a full 2 hours extra from the mbp simply because Apple changed to more strict testing last year.
  16. Mobius 1 macrumors 6502

    Feb 11, 2011
  17. iNeedToDoHw macrumors regular

    May 23, 2011
    coming from windows, I have used chrome as my default browser and loved it, but apple doesn't support the back/forward swipe on chrome and the full screen mode has errors... too bad.

    Firefox seems to bulky for me, quit that long time ago.

    So now i just use safari. I don't know why you don't like it?
  18. Bottomsup macrumors regular

    May 10, 2011
    I haven't tested on my 2011 MBA yet but on my late 2010 I found that FF used quite a bit of CPU even when sitting idle on non flash sites. Chrome uses far less so I use that.
  19. B737 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 22, 2008
    Jersey Shore
    safari sux... it urks me that you cant single click (without holding down command) and open bookmarks in new tabs. sounds small but it bugs me...

    SWIPE pages fwd back work in firefox and chrome!

    Settings> Trackpad > More Gestures > "Swipe between pages" (swipe with two or three fingers)

    Will give you page swiping back in browsing apps. I have FF, Chrome and safari installed, it works on all three. Gesture Jumping page down/up like we used to have does not work anymore though
  20. blairh thread starter macrumors 68040


    Dec 11, 2007
    Not to be rude, but I did state I'm using a 2011 MBA. So clearly I'm using Lion.

    I'd appreciate anyone who can tell me what changes need to made in settings so that I can use gestures to go Back/Forward in Firefox and Chrome.
  21. blowabs macrumors member

    May 23, 2010
    BK, NYC
    #21 much time do you think FF saves over Safari??? thx:confused:
  22. B737 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 22, 2008
    Jersey Shore
    post #19 in this thread dude
  23. blairh thread starter macrumors 68040


    Dec 11, 2007
    Totally missed it. Thanks.
  24. sprockett macrumors member

    May 19, 2008
    just use better touch tool. solves all your gestures issues.

    I can do one hand browsing with any browser
  25. blairh thread starter macrumors 68040


    Dec 11, 2007
    The Test & Results.

    Okay everybody, here are my battery test results for Chrome vs. Safari vs. Firefox on the 2011 11" MBA (128 HD/ 4 RAM). I did this test twice and got exactly the same results.

    Here are the settings my MBA operated on. Keep in mind these settings remained equal while all three browsers were tested.

    Test Settings:

    Adobe Flash installed.

    Brightness set at 75% (12/16 bars).

    Backlit keyboard set at 3 bars.

    AdBlock Plus activated.

    Wifi on.

    Bluetooth off.

    Time Machine not configured.

    Battery has not been calibrated or run down entirely since machine was first booted.

    The battery test took place with a full charge at start. For each test, only one application is open (the browser being tested). I surfed the web in one tab only. I never let the screen dim. I did not watch any videos (though I did browse for videos on Youtube for roughly 15 mins in each test). I made a conscious effort to visit the same set of sites for all three tests, attempting to mirror everything as much as possible.

    Here are my results. (Full charge at start to MBA powering off due to battery drain.)


    Firefox: 3 hours, 48 minutes. (228 minutes)

    Chrome: 3 hours, 26 minutes. (206 minutes)

    Safari: 3 hours, 9 minutes. (189 minutes)


    As I stated earlier, I did this test twice and got exactly the same results with respect to total time. The good news is that if you are accustomed to using your 2011 11" MBA under lower screen brightness settings than what I used in my testing, you should see more battery life. I used 75% brightness for the testing because it's what I use everyday. (Anything lower is too dim for my eyes.) Also if you opt to use a Flash blocker browser extension of any sort, I'm guessing you may also get even more battery life (personally I use AdBlock Plus and nothing more).

    With respect to my results, I was surprised that Chrome came that close in total time to Firefox. Safari clearly is the inferior browser when you are trying to work for long periods of time on your MBA on battery power (if you trust my results).

    Hope this test helps others. While I will continue to use Chrome as my default browser on my Mac Mini, I have gone ahead and made Firefox my go-to browser for my MBA.

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