How I manage my 2016 MBP 15" battery life

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by konnyaku, May 7, 2017.

  1. konnyaku macrumors member

    Dec 4, 2016
    I bought my 2016 MBP 15" when it first came out (16GB/460/1TB). At first I got shyt battery life. I work all-day on-the-go, so I had to come up with some strategies to maximize my battery life. The following is what's worked for me over the last half-year.

    Minimize wattage to maximize battery life.
    - If you can keep your power consumption under 10W, you'll get around 8 hours of battery life.
    - If you can keep your power consumption under 8W, you'll get around 10 hours.

    - The screen brightness affects wattage more than previous gen MBPs. This is bc Apple shrank the battery, hence the screen is a larger proportion of the total power draw. Decreasing your brightness just a few clicks will make a world of a difference.
    - The graphics card consumes between 4-10W when activated. Keep it off at all costs.
    - The CPU's power consumption is more 'sensitive' to fluctuations in processing intensity than previous gens. It's optimized to sip power during low-intensity tasks, but will suddenly increase power consumption when doing anything more.
    - The latest final versions of MacOS Sierra tend to have better battery life management. Upgrade!
    - Eliminate apps that use lots of background CPU. eg) I found Photos was wrecking my battery life because it does automatic face-recognition scanning on your whole library.

    Strategy: Use menubar apps to monitor and manage wattages. I use three apps:

    1. iStat Menus (14-day trial, $18 after)
    2. gfxCard Status 2.4.3i stevechow fork (free)
    3. Coconut Battery (free)

    Here's my setup in my menubar. You don't have to do it this way, I just find this works for me.


    The first icon (5%) is iStat Menus - showing a live reading of my CPU percentage. Whenever I see this shoot up, or read much higher than normal, it's a sign that I've got a process draining my battery. clicking this number shows a dropdown of my processes so that I know what's going on.

    The second icon (i) is gfxCardStatus. It allows me to effectively disable the GPU by setting the computer to Integrated Only (note: This only seems to work on the 2.4.3i stevechow fork; 2.3 has some issues with this). This is important so that the Mac doesn't start using your GPU for stuff like Google Maps or FB Messenger, which will drain your battery fast.

    The third icon (0.10 W) is iStat Menus (again). This wattage shows me a live reading of my GPU wattage. Since it's off right now, it's drawing 0.1 W. The reason why I have this here is to ensure that the GPU is actually off. Sometimes gfxCardStatus doesn't work as expected, and sometimes the computer's internal switching mechanism does some weird stuff. I've even had situations where my GPU was still drawing 2-3W when it was off, which only went away when I rebooted the comp. The point is to make sure it's really off.

    The fourth icon (7.6W) is Coconut Battery. This shows me my computer's total wattage consumption. This is the most important number, the one you're trying to get under 10 (for 8h battery) or 8 (for 10h battery). The reason why I use Coconut here instead of just iStat Menus is because Coconut Battery does a nice running average that changes slowly and evens out the spikes to give you a better idea of your actual usage. iStat Menus jumps around every second and becomes very hard to read here.

    The last icon (54%) is just the standard Mac battery meter. I like it because you can click on it and see what are the apps/factors 'Using Significant Energy'.

    Using these menubar tools has not only given me more control over my power usage, it's made me understand my Mac's power patterns a lot better and hence trained me to use it in a way that gets much better battery life. These days, getting 10 hours out of a charge is not difficult, it just takes a bit of attention and care ;)
  2. johannnn macrumors 65816


    Nov 20, 2009
    How crappy is the integrated GPU? Since that screen has quite a few pixels.

    I'd also recommend Turbo Boost Switcher, which disables the turbo boost (via menu bar icon, or automatically when using battery). Definitely improved the battery of my old 2015 15" MBP and currently on my 2016 12" MB.
  3. Ries macrumors 68020

    Apr 21, 2007
    2016 model iGPU, Intel HD 530 = 441.6 GFLOPS
    2015 model iGPU, Intel Iris Pro 5200 = 832 GFLOPS

    Radeon Pro 460 = 1860 GFLOPS
    Radeon Pro 450 = 1000 GFLOPS
  4. bartvk macrumors 6502


    Dec 29, 2016
    The Netherlands
    Very good post. As an aside, when I'm on battery, I kill non-standard apps like WhatsApp desktop client, Skype, Slack etc.

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