Love new 13" MBA - Hate battery life

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by ws07, Jul 29, 2011.

  1. ws07 macrumors member

    Jul 26, 2011
    Hi all -

    First, this brand new Ultimate MBA 13" is my first Mac since 1996 or so. What an amazing machine and OS. I'm kicking myself for waiting this long to get back after years of 'getting by' with Windows and Linux.

    Now - my issue - I am absolutely amazed at how poor my battery life is. My best runtime at this point is 4 hours, doing exclusively web browsing via WiFi. Far cry from the 7 hours I was hoping to at least "get close" to.

    I've been troubleshooting to the best of my ability and can't find anything close to a smoking gun.

    1) Activity Monitor is almost ALWAYS > 90-95% idle process. I've never seen a situation when my MBA is heavily CPU utilized.

    2) The battery looks fine in System Info - 6750 mAh at full charge. At this point I'm at 5 cycles so it's obviously a brand new battery as I would expect.

    Any suggestions in further troubleshooting this? I really don't want to deal with any Apple Geniuses on this one and don't like the idea of returning what is an otherwise amazing machine.
  2. marrzie macrumors regular

    Mar 9, 2011
  3. Acorn, Jul 29, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2011

    Acorn macrumors 68020


    Jan 2, 2009
    usually to get the seven hours you need to have the brightness of the screen turned down to about 4 notches above off. the brightness effects it alot. try reducing your brightness just below 50% and see how you do. every few weeks bump it down a notch. before you know it you will be used to a lower brightness setting and no way would ever use full brightness again.
  4. NutsNGum macrumors 68030


    Jul 30, 2010
    Glasgow, Scotland
    Install it from Safari Extensions though, it doesn't seem to work if you download the standalone plugin.

    Safari > Safari Extensions... > Click2Flash
  5. reclusive46 macrumors 65816


    Apr 14, 2011
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_5 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8L1 Safari/6533.18.5)

    Try calibrating your battery. A quick Google will tell you how to do it.
  6. ws07 thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 26, 2011
    Thank you all for the suggestions.

    I use Chrome for browsing but am going to look for something like Click2Play for it. I'm sure it exists.

    I should have mentioned that I do keep the brightness pretty low. Usually 5 or so clicks above 0. Rarely above half-way.

    I'm reading about battery calibration now - I have used the MBA from full down to power-off. I'll do another one (unfortunately it's pretty easy for me to do).

    Thanks again!
  7. stevenpa macrumors 6502

    Jun 28, 2011
    It's normal, I've been at 4-5 hours. Once there are some updates for Lion and flash in general it'll be a bit better. The Shockwave flash for my chrome is using the most out of all my CPU (total CPU use at around 5%). I get about 6.5 once wifi is off / flash is off.

    Do you have bluetooth on? That's another battery hog.
  8. Roman2K~ macrumors 6502a

    Mar 11, 2011
    Same here about the battery: 3h30 to 5h with my regular usage (Chrome, Mail, VLC, Safari for YouTube). I'm sure there's a lot of room for improvement of CPU utilization in Lion, at least idle loads. Counting on upcoming updates...

    Chrome has this functionality built in: here's how to enable it.

    For YouTube videos, use Safari and the YouTube5 extension: this way, you will kill two birds with one stone, both avoiding Flash and taking advantage of hardware accelerated H.264 decoding (about the latter: apparently, Safari only, not yet supported in Chrome for HTML5 H.264 videos).
  9. bill-p macrumors 68000

    Jul 23, 2011
    Alternatively, ClickToFlash on Safari has the ability to replace HTML5 player for not only Youtube but also Vimeo and a bunch of other video host providers.
  10. h00ligan macrumors 68030

    Apr 10, 2003
    A hot desert
    Click2flash does that too, automatically plays html 5 when available.
  11. unagimiyagi macrumors 6502a

    Jun 9, 2009
    Never will you get 7 hours unless you are perhaps writing emails.
    Screen brightness is the dominant factor in your battery life, and yours sounds about right to me.
    When they say 7 hours, think 4.5 real-world. That's what I'm getting with mine, and it's what I expected. Maybe one day we'll get more, but it seems like we need another big breakthrough before we do.
  12. torbjoern, Jul 29, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 30, 2011

    torbjoern macrumors 65816


    Jun 9, 2009
    The Black Lodge
    To OP: Remember that CoolBook doesn't work on Lion, and that i5/i7 doesn't support undervolting at all. I doubt that the 2011 MacBook Air has a lousier battery than the 2010 model.
  13. calvol macrumors 6502a

    Feb 3, 2011
    OP, exactly why I am keeping my 2010 13-UMBA, great battery life, 10+ hours with CoolBook. Anand's battery test for light surfing shows the huge difference between 2011 and 2010 models. The Intel HD3000 graphics depends too much on TurboBoost for good performance-- which kills battery life.
  14. Roman2K~ macrumors 6502a

    Mar 11, 2011
    I wasn't aware of that, thanks.
  15. Roman2K~, Jul 30, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2011

    Roman2K~ macrumors 6502a

    Mar 11, 2011
    About the HD 3000 depending on Turbo Boost to provide good performance: that's the message you have been spreading in other threads.

    It would make sense if the Turbo Boost of the GPU was tied to that of the CPU. I haven't been able to find much information in the subject, but the last paragraph in this article seems to suggest that CPU and GPU Turbo Boosts are independent of each other.

    I know that Anandtech's review shows the 2010 model reaching 10h+ battery life in light browsing, but that must have been with Leopard. I have both models (2010 and 2011, both running Lion): while the 2011 does run hotter*, it's also more efficient at real world tasks. Battery life is better on the 2011 in real world use (browsing, online videos [HTML5], VLC, Mail, iTunes...) by 10-20%.

    * Note about the temperature in the 2011 model: the increase temperature is not inconvenient like on the 2011 15" MBP: I don't feel the heat in my hands, and it's not hot enough that the fans run have to speed up often. Also, the fan is virtually silent at idle and the few times that it speeds up, its sound is smoother, easier on the ears (less whiny) than that of the 2010.
  16. calvol macrumors 6502a

    Feb 3, 2011
    That's a good article and proves my point. Note the following:
    1) Max TurboBoost appears to be 2x TDP (i.e. 2x power consumption)
    2) The max TB is the sum vector of GPU and CPU

    In Anand's light browsing battery test, which is non-CPU intensive, and indicative of GPU workload, the 2010 is getting 24% longer battery life than the 2011. That says the 2011 IGP is underpowered, and thus relying on TB much more, and reducing battery life.
  17. Typswif2fingers macrumors 6502

    Feb 17, 2010
    Dubai, UAE
    I just noticed my battery clock.. Obviously not gonna last... but interesting never the less.. :)

    EDIT: Also.. where did my Omni bar go in that picture? :) Weird... Its on... right now...

    Attached Files:

  18. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    I definitely think Flash performs worse under Lion than Snow Leopard. Today my battery was dropping at about 1% a minute (11" Core i7) with just Safari. I saw that Flash was using up 27 threads and 50% of a CPU core. A quick reboot took care of that and Flash is back down to 13 threads and about 3% CPU usage (Resume restored all the web sites), and battery consumption is much more reasonable.
  19. DarwinOSX macrumors 65816

    Nov 3, 2009
    Go back and read it again. CPU turboboost has nothing to do with HD 3000 battery usage.

  20. calvol macrumors 6502a

    Feb 3, 2011
    Go back to school. Look at the bottom graph at the point "sum of max". That is a vector sum of CPU and Graphics power usage. BOTH use TurboBoost, and both vectors are used in the TB algorithm. Now here's where you're probably lost-- when CPU workload is minimal, the CPU vector is minimal, the power consumption curve moves to the point "heavy graphics load". Now, if you follow me this far, what else could cause one forth greater power consumption in light browsing? If you guessed TurboBoost, you got the right answer.
  21. jackyyeow macrumors 6502

    Jul 5, 2011
    I don't think there's much trade off on the battery life.

    Yes, light tasks/browsing, the 2010 13" offer crazy battery life, but 2011 is much lighter on the battery use when it comes to tasks required a little more CPU processing e.g. light flash or youtube.

    In fact, my coolbook enabled 2010 13" ultimate isn't doing too much better than the claimed battery time - I got anythere between 7:30~8 hours of light browsing, not by reading the battery meter, I did timed my use and recorded the battery % readings.

    If 2011 can do around 7 hours light browsing give or take, with the efficiency on higher CPU loads, and twice the power when plugged in, it's a no brainer deal especially when the newer model is actually price cheaper...:D
  22. BrownManUPS macrumors 6502a


    Jul 30, 2007
    I am coming from an early 2008 MacBook Unibody, and I used to get 2 hours on a charge since I would browse sites with Flash. Now that I have gone flash free (with click2flash), I get 5-6 hours on the machine on average.

    Though the Apple site says you don't need to calibrate the battery, I recommend taking the time to do so. I can see a noticeable difference in the battery monitor now than before. In any case, this is a night and day difference for me that I'm really happy with.
  23. ws07 thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 26, 2011
    I was the OP in this thread and just wanted to follow up for posterity here...

    First, I am absolutely 100% keeping this gem of a machine.

    Following the advice of so many on here, I have set up chrome with the "Click to Play" content setting. What a major difference this has made - I'm pretty consistently at 5-7 hours of usable battery life now.

    Every time I scroll by a puzzle piece I just smile knowing I'm getting bettery battery life and missing out on crap ad at the same time. Talk about a win-win.

    Just wanted to thank you all for the good advice, common observations, and feedback.
  24. 2IS macrumors 68030

    Jan 9, 2011
    That's a whole lot of speculation there with nothing to back it up besides more speculation. How do you know the difference isn't SL vs Lion?
  25. calvol macrumors 6502a

    Feb 3, 2011
    What? You're saying Lion causes a 24% drop in battery life in light browsing and not for the "flash web browsing" test in the next table? That's a whole lot of imagination with nothing to back it up.

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