Somewhat disappointed with MBP 15" battery life - were my expectations too high?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by elleana, Jul 13, 2010.

  1. elleana macrumors regular

    Nov 30, 2009
    I know I'll never be able to achieve 8-9 hours, but I was hoping for at least 7 or thereabouts. Unfortunately, I only managed a paltry 5 hours on my first two 'complete' discharges. This is with airport and bluetooth on, screen at half brightness and running windows 7 in parallels in addition to the usual browser/office stuff. Is there something I can do to improve battery life? Or is having parallels running all the time draining the battery extra fast?

    Also, is there some sort of battery monitoring utility that can accurately detect what exactly the battery is doing? I find the default one to be somewhat sparse in terms of details.
  2. DanMacApple macrumors 6502

    Jul 1, 2010
    I know bluetooth can drain the battery quick as when I turned it off I noticed a much improved battery life.
  3. Psyclism macrumors newbie

    Jun 17, 2010
    Running VM's is fairly CPU intensive, so you're going to chew through your battery a lot faster than if you were just browsing the web or working with a text editor. Bluetooth drains battery as well.

    With my bluetooth off, wifi off and screen at ~50% brightness, I was able to watch 3 full length movies (ripped iso's) on a recent trip and I still had 50% battery power left when I got home. Radio's suck battery. No way around that other than turning off any radio that isn't absolutely necessary to do your chosen task.
  4. mansanas macrumors regular

    Feb 5, 2010
    dude, ur running a windows 7 via virtualization.. ofcourse ur battery wont last 7 hours.
    ud be lucky to get 5 hours.
  5. HLdan macrumors 603


    Aug 22, 2007
    Parallels does run up the CPU cycles. Apple certainly doesn't say anything on their page about running virtual machines and achieving 8-9 hours. 5 hours is pretty good for running Windows 7 in a VM. It's too much to expect if you want better battery life while running 2 OS's at the same time.
  6. djasterix macrumors 6502a


    Apr 10, 2010
    Paradise City
    Bluetooth drains a lot of juice, maybe that's why you're getting 5 hours
  7. elleana thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 30, 2009
    Okay, looks like its as I suspected.

    Follow-on question then - if I'm not actually using any Windows 7 programs, should I shut down Parallels or keep it running? I ask because I use Windows 7 about half the time, the other half of the time it sits idle. I don't shut it down though cause it takes a while to boot up when I need it.

    Currently using the Magic Mouse so I leave bluetooth on, but I don't really need it because the track pad is so awesome. Will try without bluetooth and see if that helps.
  8. mansanas macrumors regular

    Feb 5, 2010
    i dont know about parallels but vmware activates the nvidia gfx chip even if ur not running any windows program, so thats another reason why ull drain ur battery faster.

    oh like others have said, bluetooth also drains battery.

    5 hours is pretty good for ur settings.
  9. HLdan macrumors 603


    Aug 22, 2007
    First, Bluetooth doesn't "drain" your battery by just being on but it will play a decent part in pulling from it while you're using it so there's no need to really turn it off unless battery life is highly crucial at the moment. Yes, you should turn off Parallels, it's an extra program running the background and it reserves ram while it's on so you not only will you lose battery life while it's on it will take up some of your ram as well.
  10. bigjobby macrumors 65816

    Apr 7, 2010
    London, UK
    turn as much off as you can (including keyboard light) and only have Airport on when you need it. Lower your display brightness further if feasible. Exit Parallels if you're not using it and it does indeed use the nVidia GPU by default. Again, if feasible, switch to Intel graphics using gfxstatus thingy app (can't remember exact name as I'm typing from my phone) when in Parallels. Just be very conservative.

    IMO you did well to get 5hrs which is not paltry considering the status and setup of your MBP at the time.
  11. ozreth macrumors 65816


    Nov 5, 2009
    Yeah do as the rest say. The 8-9 hours is based on no bluetooth, keyboard off, brightness 50 percent or less, flash turned off, and using the intel graphics card. Basically web browsing and other small tasks.

    I bet youll get around 7 with BT off and not running parallels.
  12. revelated macrumors 6502a


    Jun 30, 2010
    Windows period will kill the battery because it's constantly thrashing the drive, paging and whatnot. It's also less efficient at running the disparate hardware components than Snow Leopard.

    As stated, if you're not running VMs, Bluetooth disabled, and not running an intensive app like Parallels, VMWare or Adobe, you should be able to get around 7 hours on average usage. You're not going to get 8-9 when using it, I guarantee you.
  13. snaky69 macrumors 603

    Mar 14, 2008
    Anything processor and memory intensive such as running virtual machines is going to dramatically take away from your battery life, it's plain old common sense.
  14. Snowbound macrumors regular

    May 19, 2008
    This sums up my sentiments. So yes obviously shut down the VM if the battery life matters to you.
  15. aljlin macrumors regular

    Sep 7, 2006
    Question becomes, do you really need 8-9 hours of battery life? If you need the vm and the mighty mouse, and can live with the 5 hours, then just leave it the way it is and deal with the 5 hours. Just because it's not lasting the 8 hours doesn't mean it's not working fine. Use it however you need to, and if the battery life doesn't last the maximum amount, that's fine. It's the tradeoff that you want.

    Sometimes not worrying so much about everything is better for you. :cool:

    If you absolutely cannot live without having 8 hours of battery life go ahead and shutdown your vm and turn off bluetooth, but really the key is battery life is 8-9 with settings pretty much turned off. It will flunctuate depending on how much you use your computer. Now you know your baseline with the apps and functionality you want, and so you can prepare for trips with that fact in mind...
  16. ano0oj macrumors 6502

    Apr 20, 2010
    Anything is better than the 1.5 hours I was getting with my thinkpad! I only have to charge my MBP once a day now with pretty constant use, but my screen brightness always stays under half and don't play music too often
  17. elvisidal macrumors member


    Jul 13, 2010
    50% brightness web surfing in front of the TV last night on a 17" mbp

    Attached Files:

  18. HLdan macrumors 603


    Aug 22, 2007
    Might've helped if you had shown the on-screen brightness level in your screenshot and a pic of the computer to backup your claim. Sure, it might peek there for a second or so but then go back to reality.
  19. jjahshik32 macrumors 603

    Sep 4, 2006
    Your running parallels, there's your problem.
  20. jjahshik32 macrumors 603

    Sep 4, 2006
    I've had the 17" i7 2.66GHz model before I sold it (last month) and while carrying it around campus for 8-9 hours and still using it on battery at home at 1 notch brightness, bluetooth off, wifi on, 6 spaces, no vmware fusion running and just surfing the net with click2flash installed (only clicked on some youtube videos to enable flash off and on) I managed to get just under 12 hours of battery life.

    One interesting thing I've noticed is that when you run parallels or vmware fusion, make sure to quit the virtualization before you put your macbook pro to sleep (close the lid) because it'll suck your battery while its sleeping for some reason if you have vmware/parallels opened.
  21. ozreth macrumors 65816


    Nov 5, 2009
    I think most of us are talking about straight usage. Your MBP was probably asleep for half of those 6 hours. Not saying you didn't get awesome battery life, Im just saying idle time dosent count..
  22. jjahshik32 macrumors 603

    Sep 4, 2006
    I had 5 classes, 2 were 2 hour classes each, one was 3 hours and 2 were 1 hour classes. In between most of my classes I had about an hour before each but while I waited, I always stay in the snack lounge area with my macbook pro awake (hardly asleep all day) and surf the net. The only time I had my macbook pro sleeping is when I stuffed it into my backpack to walk to the next building/class which is around 5-10 minutes of each interval.

    11 hours and 45 minutes is the time when my 17" battery died. So if you count just continuous usage, its probably more like 10 hours and 30-40 minutes, which is still damn good. Man I do miss the 17".. the battery life was awesome, speakers were awesome/super loud/ screen was awesome. I never brought a charger on campus, now I carry my 13" but I bring a charger with me now and while it lasts about 8 hours, I still need a couple to few more hours of charge.
  23. ozreth macrumors 65816


    Nov 5, 2009
    Youve got pretty much a full charge meaning you haven't been using it for very long. The computer judges the time left by the tasks you are performing on your laptop, so if you haven't been working very long then it does not have a good estimate.

    Also, if you let your computer idle and then wake it up after a minute or two it will read super high numbers. I've seen mine read 13 hours. Will I EVER get that much? Nope.

    Not complaining, I am happy with my battery life (about 7 hours of continuous web browsing and itunes) but almost 11 hours is unrealistic. You snapped that screen at an opportune moment.
  24. watduzhkstand4 macrumors newbie

    Jul 14, 2010
    I think 5 hours is pretty reasonable with your macbook pro taking a beating with parallels.
  25. elleana thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 30, 2009
    Thanks for all the replies guys. Yes, running without parallels showed an AWESOME improvement in battery life. I'm trying to make do without - just installed boot camp and rebooting into Windows 7 takes me less than a minute (hooray for the X-25 G2 SSD) so I can live with that.

    Next question, what is battery life like in bootcamp? Just managed to install windows 7 - had to muck about with restoring my OSX install from a time machine backup before boot camp would let me partition - so I haven't had any experience yet.

    To those who asked - yes, battery life is somewhat important to me. I just got my MBP over the weekend and I had to think long and hard between the 13" and 15" because of weight considerations. I eventually went for the 15" so I'm trying to figure out if I can get by through a work day without bringing the magsafe power adapter out with me. It's not particularly heavy I know, but it is rather bulky and I would much rather leave it at home. I won't be using the MBP all day (I also have a desktop at work) and I guesstimate I'll probably need ~6 hours of battery. So things are looking good. Just need to make sure I leave home in the morning at 100% and I should be able to make it through the day.

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