Results and Analysis

There is a lot to talk about with these results. While Google Chrome's 1ms timer request certainly uses more power than otherwise, everything else about Google Chrome seems to make up the difference -- at least for Chrome 36. Unfortunately, Chrome 37 takes a dive of almost 25% placing it roughly tied for last place with Firefox. Considering Chrome 36 and Safari are the only browsers on our list that do not support HiDPI displays, that could be the difference. I have added an asterisk on the chart to indicate Chrome 36 is not quite doing the same work as the other browsers. There seems to be a significant battery penalty when natively rendering at 3200x1800 instead of 1600x900 and then scaling up via Windows.

Browser Battery Life

It would be interesting to repeat this test on a lower resolution display, but that would be largely academic, as many laptops today ship with HiDPI displays and more are always on the way. To be honest, I'm not sure anyone could actually use Chrome 36 on a HiDPI display without going crazy anyway, so the fact that Chrome 36 leads the pack here is probably irrelevant.

Update: Chrome has been tested at 1600x900

Just to confirm, I did run a powercfg /energy report and Google Chrome was indeed requesting the high resolution timer.

Energy report while Google Chrome was browsing our test web sites

A few of our test websites also contain flash advertisements, so I was curious if these also caused Firefox and IE11 to increase their timers. Running the same powercfg /energy report did not show any timer increase for those browsers.

Energy report while Firefox or IE11 were browsing our test web sites

As for Safari, unfortunately the browser was having all kinds of trouble being automated by our test suite. The browser window would lose focus every ten seconds and result in lost keyboard inputs. Looking into task manager, whenever Safari would lose focus "Windows Error Reporting" would appear in the processes list. After disabling the Windows Error Reporting Service, Safari instead threw unhandled exceptions every 10 seconds.

Tough to automate a program that throws errors every 10 seconds...

Apple's website does not list any known issues regarding this error. Disabling display scaling, running at 1600x900 resolution, and reinstalling Safari did not resolve the issue. Considering Safari for Windows is still on version 5.1.7 from over two years ago and apparently won't be receiving any further updates, we decided it was best to simply exclude the browser from any further testing.

The Test Final Words
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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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