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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  • marc1000 - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    as sad as it makes me feel, I have to admit that Opera market share is really small - and shrinking.

    it's a shame such a creative company get eaten by big marketing companies: Opera was the first to launch a number of innovations that later got integrated into other browsers or even OSs. but right now I don't even know if they will survive another couple years... sad...

    PS: multiple tabs in one window, mouse gestures, live preview, speed dial, extremely customizable navigation (ie, turning off scripts, overriding font sizes, desktop client on mobile devices). some of these feats are unmatched even today. mouse gestures were available on Opera for almost a decade before Windows 7 would implement something similar. well, thats life.
  • Johnmcl7 - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    I agree entirely about Opera, I've used it for many years and I don't think it gets the recognition it deserves for innovating many of the current browser features. I'm concerned their change to the Chromium base is the beginning of the end though, the developers are claiming it's increased Opera usage but I find that hard to believe as the current Opera release doesn't seem to offer much away from Chrome and they've decimated the old Opera with few of its user favourite features implemented in the new version.

    I plan on using Opera v12 until it's too unreliable/incompatible/insecure and then unless they've made big improvements to the new Opera, switch to something else. On W8 touch systems I have to admit I'm keen on the Modern IE as it's very quick and responsive which is amusing as the reason I originally started using Opera was because Internet Explorer 6 was painfully slow on an XP PC with 128MB RAM.
  • MamiyaOtaru - Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - link

    same. sticking with 12 as long as possible, no desire at all to use the new one. They killed themselves for me trying to chase after average users, and I'm not sure they actually attracted any. At the very least they can be sure more websites work with their browser even if no one tests against Opera (thanks to using Chromium), but I really wish they'd considered switching engines but keeping their UI
  • Lerianis - Thursday, August 14, 2014 - link

    They already have made many improvements to the new version of Opera. In fact, all it is missing compared to Opera v12 is support for saving pages in .mht format, something that I still rely on Opera v12 for.

    The new Opera can OPEN .mht files, it just cannot SAVE in that format. Which seems kinda weird but eh...
  • Blisse - Saturday, August 16, 2014 - link

    I switched from Opera to Chrome 2 years ago. Opera started crashing inexplicably and I found a replacement for gestures on Chrome. I loved how forward thinking it was with its features and skipped Firefox because they blatantly copied Opera's menu button design, but I can't say I'm missing Opera now. The stability of modern browsers is just so much better than Opera was and I was sick of Opera specific problems. I loved the bookmarks tab though. I'm almost at the point where I'm going to try IE again versus Chrome and this article helped me stick around on Chrome a bit longer.
  • furnace51 - Thursday, August 14, 2014 - link

    Given opera has the ability to 'mask' it's self and pretend to be IE and other browsers, I wonder how many false counts exist.. my guess is Opera is better represented than statistics suggest.

    I have my Opera set to mask as it prevents idiot websites presenting me with inane popups saying my browser is out of date, just because Opera did not present it's self as the latest version of IE, Chrome or Firefox.
  • Morpheusx3 - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    For the record, this was addressed in the article. Safari was excluded because of numerous issues.

    Regardless, an OSX battery life test would undoubtedly be interesting to read. I'd be down for that too.
  • Wixman666 - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    They can't test safari on OSX since the rest are tested under Windows. They'd be comparing apples and oranges. As far as Opera is concerned, does anyone actually USE opera anymore??
  • BC2009 - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    They could test all the browsers on OS X with the exception of Internet Explorer.

    Both Safari and Internet Explorer are OS-specific. The only cross-platform browsers are Firefox, Chrome and Opera.
  • lightsout565 - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    I'd also love to read an OSX battery life test. I'd be interested to see how optimized Safari is for power usage compared with Firefox/Chrome/Opera.

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