The Test

Overall, many factors go into web browser battery usage, like GPU accelerated rendering and content caching. Chrome, despite its aggressive timer usage, may still be more battery efficient than other browsers. I should note that AnandTech has historically used Safari on OS X and desktop IE on Windows devices when performing battery life testing.

With this article we are debuting a new browser benchmark tool. Developed in house, this tool automates the usage of a desired web browser as if a user was sitting at the computer. It performs common tasks like launching and closing the browser, opening and closing tabs, loading websites, and scrolling through longer articles. As usual, the websites visited are popular sites cached on the AnandTech server, so the content of the sites does not change between runs. Additionally, the browsers are all run in private browsing mode to prevent local content caching from interfering with reloading our limited set of server-cached sites.

Browsers tested:

  • IE11 Desktop Mode v11.0.9600.17207 (Update versions: 11.0.10 KB2962872)
  • IE11 Modern (Metro) Mode
  • Firefox 31.0
  • Safari 5.1.7
  • Chrome 36.0.1985.125 m
  • Chrome 37.0.2062.68 beta-m (64-bit)

There are several other browsers we would have liked to test, however, due to the time intensive nature of battery life testing, we chose to focus on the most popular browsers. We also chose to test the beta version of Chrome as it is a significant update. Chrome 37 changes from 32-bit to 64-bit and from GDI (legacy) rendering to DirectWrite (modern) rendering. This makes the browser actually usable and no longer blurry on HiDPI displays.

To take advantage of operating system and hardware advances since our last test, testing was performed on the high end model of the Dell XPS 15 (9530) late 2013 edition running Windows 8.1 with all updates as of this writing.

Dell XPS 15 (9530) Late 2013 Specifications
Processor Intel Core i7-4702MQ
(Quad-core 2.2-3.2GHz, 6MB L3, 22nm, 37W)
Chipset HM87
Memory 2x8GB DDR3-1600
Graphics GeForce GT 750M 2GB GDDR5
(384 cores, 967MHz + Boost 2.0, 5GHz GDDR5)

Intel HD Graphics 4600
(20 EUs at 400-1150MHz)
Display 15.6" Glossy PPS 16:9 QHD+ (3200x1800)
(Sharp LQ156Z1 Touchscreen)
Storage 512GB mSATA SSD (Samsung SM841)
Optical Drive N/A
Networking 802.11ac WiFi (Intel Dual-Band AC-7260)
(2x2:2 867Mbps capable)
Bluetooth 4.0 (Intel)
Audio Realtek HD
Stereo Speakers
Headset jack
Battery/Power 9-cell, 11.1V, 8000mAh, 91Wh
130W Max AC Adapter
Front Side N/A
Left Side Battery Charge Indicator LEDs
Headset jack
2 x USB 3.0
1 x Mini-DisplayPort
1 x HDMI
AC Power Connection
Right Side Flash Reader (MMC/SD)
1 x USB 3.0
1 x USB 3.0 (Sleep Charging)
Kensington Lock
Back Side Exhaust vent (inside LCD hinge)
Operating System Windows 8.1 64-bit
Dimensions 14.6" x 10.0" x 0.3-0.7" (WxDxH)
(372mm x 254mm x 8-18mm)
Weight 4.44 lbs (2.01kg)
Extras 720p HD Webcam
87-Key Backlit Keyboard

The latest edition of this laptop upgrades to the "Haswell Refresh" i7-4712HQ with an extra 100 MHz clock rate compared to our test laptop. That should have little to no impact on the browser battery life testing.

Windows Timers Results and Analysis
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  • leminlyme - Tuesday, September 2, 2014 - link

    Well it uses Chromium, and is falsely reported as Chrome by many statistic pulling websites. I know this from experience, I'm always labeled Chrome when I exclusively use Next and 20+ versions of Opera. Opera performs almost exactly like Chrome except that it has different design features, and it was the pioneer of speed dial, something I give it a tonne of credit for as it is my single most used and useful browser feature ever.
  • Samus - Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - link

    The majority of Opera users are in Europe, and that is a statistically insignificant region of the world.

    USA F-Yeah!
  • StevoLincolnite - Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - link

    Europe has over twice the population of the USA, so how does that work?
  • MamiyaOtaru - Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - link

    you don't get jokes do you
  • seapeople - Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - link

    He's probably from Europe. They don't have enough of a population density there for jokes to take hold.
  • Spunjji - Thursday, August 14, 2014 - link

    As a resident of Europe, I resent tha...

    Ohhhh, I see what you did there
  • CharonPDX - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    While that is true, since they chose Safari ON WINDOWS, they should take in to account Safari+Windows market share. I'm sure it is miniscule, since Apple hasn't updated Safari for Windows in years. (The latest version is from 2012, and has received *NO SECURITY UPDATES* since.) They are testing Safari 5.1.7; Safari on OS X is up to version 7.0.5. It would be like them testing IE 9. While still technically the "current" version on Windows Vista (much as Safari 5.1.7 is the "current" version on Windows,) it's still very much not a competitor.

    Again, if they were going to test Safari, they should have tested it on OS X. Period.

    A proper comparison would be a MacBook Pro, booted natively to OS X 10.9.4 and Windows 8.1, testing each latest browser version. That would show difference between Firefox and Chrome on Windows vs. OS X that would be a baseline for comparing Safari and IE, as well.
  • Morawka - Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - link

    safari on mac has so many jerry rigged optimizations it would be totally unfair to compare it to windows based web browsers which have to be used on a huge variety of hardware, unlike safari on ios and osx.
  • xype - Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - link

    Ugh, do you seriously think IE and Chrome don’t have optimizations? Do you think the IE team be all "Well, it has to run on at least TWO Windows versions, let’s just keep it all unoptimized, yeah?"
  • mtbogre - Monday, August 25, 2014 - link

    They aren't "Jerry Rigged" optimizations any more than Windows using GL to render IE are "Jerry Rigged". The browsers are optimized for the underlying OS, that's a good thing.

    The bigger point here is that Safari on Windows is relevant to almost no-one. They might as well have tested out the AOL browser or thrown Netscape Navigator into the mix.

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