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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  • 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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