MacBook Air SSD vs HDD Battery Life Revisted

Pressure

macrumors 601
Original poster
May 30, 2006
4,100
333
Denmark
Anand from Anandtech has reviewed the MacBook Air.

Source: The MacBook Air: Thoroughly Reviewed

This is a 23-page review so brace yourself with your drink of choice and sip it slowly while digesting it.

He covers a lot of ground and even shows how to install a Solid State Drive.

The interesting part is that the MacBook Air beats the original MacBook Pro Core Duo 2.0Ghz in most things and as a result I feel fairly sad about my original MacBook Pro Core Duo 2.16Ghz ;)

Enjoy :)
 

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Apr 12, 2001
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MacBook Air SSD vs HDD Battery Life Revisted

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Anandtech provides another review of the MacBook Air, however, unique to their review is an objective battery test comparing the Solid State Drive (SSD) vs the Hard Disk Drive (HDD) of the MacBook Air. In this case, they actually installed the SSD drive (same as Apple's) into the MacBook Air themselves and kindly provided instructions for readers to do it themselves.

To review, their standardized battery tests involved the following scripted tasks:

1) Use Wifi to browse 20 pages in a loop, spending 20 seconds on each page, while playing MP3s in iTunes.
2) Play a DVD image (off the internal hard drive) in a loop.
3) Download 10GB of files, Web browsing loop from #1, play two 480p Xvid videos in a loop.

In running these tests on both SSD and HDD MacBook Air, they found that the Solid State Drive did make a difference in battery life (contrary to previous reports), with an improvement of up to 16.8% (43 minutes) in the best case.

Anandtech also compared the MacBook Air's battery life to the 2006 Core Duo 2.0GHz MacBook Pro and the current Core 2 Duo 2.6GHz MacBook Pro. Battery life on the previous generation Core Duo MacBook Pro was much worse than the Air, but the SSD Air's battery compared favorably against the new MacBook Pro -- besting it in Battery Test #1 and #2.

The SSD upgrade remains a costly ($999) upgrade for the MacBook Air, but prices are expected to drop over time.

Article Link
 

bcgamer

macrumors newbie
Feb 3, 2008
3
0
It seems the power-saving advantage of SSD is more effective when the file system is idle (web browsing), virtually no power consumption as opposed to the HDD.
 

aLoC

macrumors 6502a
Nov 10, 2006
726
0
Why is the SSD improvement so small? I would have though taking out a component with a *motor* would make a huge difference.
 

arn

macrumors god
Staff member
Apr 9, 2001
15,240
3,358
It seems the power-saving advantage of SSD is more effective when the file system is idle (web browsing), virtually no power consumption as opposed to the HDD.
Why is the SSD improvement so small? I would have though taking out a component with a *motor* would make a huge difference.
I think the reason it makes more of a difference in the less-intensive tasks is that the hard drive is only a small portion of the power draw on the system. If you are taxing the system, the processor is using up more power, dwarfing any power savings on the drive itself.

arn
 

davidjearly

macrumors 68020
Sep 21, 2006
2,218
261
Glasgow, Scotland
Also, as the standard drive is a 1.8" HDD and not a 2.5", wouldn't it be consuming much less power anyway?

In other words, are people expecting the difference to be larger as they are not taking into account that battery life would be much poorer if it was a 2.5" HDD that was installed by default?

I don't think I'm explaining myself very clearly, but it early here.
 

MacFly123

macrumors 68020
Dec 25, 2006
2,340
0
I just saw the MBA in person for the first time today and WOW it was beyond words incredible. Having said that, as a video guy, and just general use, the MBA is really for a VERY SPECIFIC demographic I think. For who it targets it is awesome, but I think that target is very limiting.
 

kewo

macrumors newbie
Feb 6, 2008
5
0
Please compare to MB and MBP!

The 10 or 15% improvement seems significant enough. Even if there is ZERO power consumption from the SSD, you will probably still have a max 20% gain. You have to remember the drives are only a portion of the power. There is still the overhead from the processor, display, etc.
 

kewo

macrumors newbie
Feb 6, 2008
5
0
Maybe a stupid question, but howlong does the mb air run idle:confused:

Whitout doing anything....:rolleyes:

:apple:
5+ hours for me. Seems like a strange question though. You might as well close the notebook. The MBA turns on INSTANTLY.

If you turn off wifi and are just writing a document, 4+ hours is easily attainable.
 

kewo

macrumors newbie
Feb 6, 2008
5
0
I am getting over 5 hours on my air ssd while web surfing.
I sometimes see 5hrs, but not often. Only if you are on a page for a few minutes at a time will you see 5 hrs. When reading news, and constantly browsing, I get around 3.5 hours.
 

Xeem

macrumors 6502a
Feb 2, 2005
906
13
Minnesota
I think that part of the Air's problem is that people often still seem to think that a SSD is supposed to add even more battery life than the fairly notable 10-15% that Anand shows it can add to routine activities.
 

irun5k

macrumors 6502
Jan 14, 2005
379
0
Are there any statistics out there that examine manufacturing variances in hardware components and batteries?

I sometimes wonder if the huge gap in people's experiences (even when things *sound* relatively equal) is due to differences in the physical hardware.

What made me start wondering about this is the fact that my iPhone seems to need charging constantly even though during the work week it is in standby almost 100% of the time. I had a similar problem with my MacBook and Apple helped me determine that the battery was defective and they replaced it for free.

But anyway, perhaps there are capacity differences in the batteries that are produced, or perhaps a given component has a higher current draw than another "identical" component?
 

itickings

macrumors 6502a
Apr 14, 2007
928
5
Lots of negative votes as usual, as well as unrealistic expectations. The 11% improvement in the heavy-duty test is nothing but impressive. CPU and wireless in use draw lots of power.

Even removing the drive completely wouldn't increase battery life enough for people to vote positive ;)
 

achtung!

macrumors regular
Aug 21, 2005
199
0
Portugal
Lots of negative votes as usual, as well as unrealistic expectations. The 11% improvement in the heavy-duty test is nothing but impressive. CPU and wireless in use draw lots of power.

Even removing the drive completely wouldn't increase battery life enough for people to vote positive ;)
the 11% improvement in the heavy-duty test is everything but impressive. for such a slow machine, compared to the the balance between speed and price of the macbook pro, it should have reached, at least, 6 hours battery life. ;) and the expectations weren't unrealistic, unrealistic is this toys' price. :cool:
 

flamejob

macrumors member
Oct 11, 2007
70
0
London
OMG.. how many times does this need to get revisited???

The $1000 you pay gets you a small increase in battery longevity.

The end.
 

SiliconAddict

macrumors 603
Jun 19, 2003
5,889
0
Chicago, IL
I think the reason it makes more of a difference in the less-intensive tasks is that the hard drive is only a small portion of the power draw on the system. If you are taxing the system, the processor is using up more power, dwarfing any power savings on the drive itself.

arn
I just want to ditto on this comment. The two biggest power draws in a laptop are the LCD and the CPU. Hard drives now a days have so much cache and are so fast that impact is virtually nonexistent. But overall speed is important. the faster the drive can get done doing its thing the sooner it can spin down.

I find it ironic that the MBA is the first Macintel to actually meet the battery life that was found on the PPC PowerMacs.

Probably as many times as necessary to somehow justify the ridiculous $1000 price tag. :cool:
Heh. For a second I thought you meant the system was $1000 not the drive and was going to object. If the MBA was $1000 I would have gone out and ordered one on day one. Instead I got myself a referb Tablet PC that was 3 figures, gets 4 hours on a 6 cell battery with its ULV Intel, isn't nearly as light as the MBP but is a far more feature rich, and allows me to take notes on the thing. Good supplemental system to my MBP.
 

Buschmaster

macrumors 65816
Feb 12, 2006
1,306
26
Minnesota
When you think about it, those numbers are actually pretty good.

Think about the percentages. Sometimes I get 5 hours with my MacBook if I'm doing just the right things for parts of it. (Class and then aim/light browsing - Computer able to dim screen or even turn off screen from time to time)

If I got another 10% on that, that's 30 minutes, and so even more improvement than that ~17% could reach an extra hour.

Not that the extra $1000 is something I would even consider in a computer right now...
 

SinfonianShrek

macrumors member
May 8, 2006
52
0
Greybull, WY
Ok... Is it just me or are people missing the big point behind the idea of an SSD in the MBA?

First of all, I HIGHLY doubt that the primary reason the SSD is a DTO option is for savings on battery life. I may get flamed for this but I figure the SSD was offered for two primary reasons: 1) Boot/Load times, 2) Durability.

One of the most common complaints I hear about computers is how long it takes them to boot up and/or load applications. Users want an instantaneous result to their clicking. The SSD drive can shave time off both processes making them noticeably shorter.

The MBA was obviously meant to be used on the go. I've had to replace so many hard drives because they received a solid bump from a fall, or other mishap, and failed. The SSD drives remove that concern. You'd have to directly strike the drive (hard, with a hammer, ruining the rest of the computer) in order to cause the same kind of failure.

I've been deploying systems with SSD drives and have not had a single one come back bad. At least 1 in every 30 HDDs, regardless of manufacturer is either DOA or needs to be replaced within 6 months.

Now, while I myself don't have the moolah to shell out for an Air, especially with the SSD, I still recommend it to anyone who asks despite the lofty price tag.

There are far more concernes than just battery life, folks.
 

jjd

macrumors regular
Aug 22, 2003
170
10
Yeah, SSD has more intrinsic appeal

Clock speed and screen brightness are always going to be the main drivers of batt draw - and they are constants of course.

I don't have an MBA and haven't yet decided to pull the trigger. But, if I get one I am going SSD. Not because of batt life. Partially because of speed. But mainly because of durability. This is an ultraportable and I worry about a 1.8" drive in that environment. Yes I know iPods are even MORE ultraportable and get more abuse. But, they are not asked to do the work of a laptop with a Core 2 Duo... I think if there was a standard HD on board I would go with that (ie at least 5400 RPM and 2.5"). And indeed I don't like the limited capacity of the SSD. Then again if it was 2.5" it would be a MacBook I guess...

The other thing this tests emphasizes however is that swapping out the HDD for SSD is doable. One reasonable approach would be to buy the HDD model now with a view to swapping in an SSD in say 6 to 8 months. Presumably $900 wll buy you a 128gig SSD by then?
 
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