Final Words

A lot of technology has changed in five years, and not surprisingly, so have our browser battery life results. Nearly everyone is used to changing their display brightness to conserve battery, but changing browsers might be a wise move as well. Most interestingly, changing to Google Chrome 36, despite its known power consumption bug, is apparently a wise move as far as battery life is concerned. However, that may be short lived, as Google Chrome 37 beta moved Chrome from first place to last place in our battery life results. The drop is possibly thanks to Google finally supporting HiDPI displays. Update: Chrome has been tested at 1600x900

It's interesting to note that Google's bug report thread shows they attempted to fix the timer issue in Chrome 37, but they had to revert the fix due to some failing automated tests. As of this writing, they have not yet re-implemented the fix, but they did try to add some power monitoring auto tests to their suite to keep an eye on this topic. Unfortunately, a few days later, they removed those new automated tests due to other unforeseen issues.

In terms of current standings, Microsoft still knows a thing or two about creating a power friendly browser, and the Modern UI version came in second place next to Chrome 36 on our tests. Looking forward, if Google could resolve their timer issue in a future revision (37 or later), they could potentially pass Firefox and maybe even IE. In the future, we hope to test this more often than every five years so we can keep up with browser changes, and possibly test on OS X as well.

Of course, battery life isn't the only factor to consider when choosing a browser. Personally I prefer Firefox due to the "awesome bar" that works better, in my opinion, than other web browser's address bar. Additionally, I can't reasonably use Safari or Chrome 36 on the XPS 15 because they do not properly support HiDPI rendering like IE and Firefox do- at least until Chrome 37.

Hopefully this article keeps the pressure on software authors to use power efficient APIs and autotest for power draw with each subsequent release. You can check for software that abuses the battery yourself with the command line tool powercfg /energy. I've found one other piece of software abusing high resolution timers, and I reported it to the author. Let us know in the comments if there are other applications you've encountered that don't play well with battery power.

Results and Analysis
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  • Way69 - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    I seriously question the validity of even including Safari in this test. Safari for windows hasn't been updated since 2012.

    Either exclude safari or actually test the OS X version (at least that would make for an interesting read).
  • manuroc - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    And why on earth exclude a modern browser like Opera while keeping outdated Safari.

    In addition, since there is a curious performance degradation across Chrome versions, why not test dev version 38?
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    Stephen originally tried testing Safari, and felt the issues were at least worth mentioning. We forgot to remove the "non-result" from the chart but that is now fixed.

    As for Opera, it's something to look at in a future update, but that will require additional testing/scripting to get working properly. The major browsers are IE, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari (admittedly, it's really only for OS X and iOS), so that's where we started.
  • SanX - Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - link

    I'd support in future testing Opera for PC ver. 12 maximum but not touching yet newer Opera ver. 20+ which is just in development and so is a total mess

    Opera for ARM mobiles is very good by the way, I keep 20 tabs ON all the time and see literally zero consumption
  • sluflyer06 - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    The answer to that probably lies within the fact that Opera is a statistically insignificant browser. Their market share is down to .87% in the desktop/laptop scene.
  • Stuka87 - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    You do realize that 1% of the worlds internet users is 28 million people right? While the percentage may seem small, it is far from insignificant.
  • Bob Todd - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    It is insignificant to anyone that writes software for the web. Even large multi-billion dollar companies often do not bother to test _any_ version of Opera with their web applications. Same logic applies for someone spending time scripting battery life tests. Do you want to add another 20% to your time/effort to get this working for something that less than 1% of your readership cares about (even if browser stats for Anandtech have a higher slant toward Opera than the rest of the averaged web, it will still be far below the others).
  • easp - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    On the other hand, *if* Opera was significantly better than others at something as significant as power efficiency, it would be rather unfortunate if a site like Anandtech didn't highlight that fact.
  • soccerballtux - Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - link

    thats a good point
  • sluflyer06 - Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - link

    *if* it was much better than it is, then naturally the market share would increase and it would be statistically significant to cover in the first place.

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