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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  • easp - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    Yeah, and given that Mac market share is better among individual consumers who get to choose their computers and the browsers they use, it would be useful to a lot of people. Meanwhile, how many Windows users have zero choice? It is almost cruel to dangle this in front of them :)
  • pius - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    Agree - that would be interesting. I always use chrome on mac os, but if there is a battery price to pay, I might switch.
  • littlebitstrouds - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    I love the way people criticize free information. An air of arrogance mixed with contempt.
  • Rexyl - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    I love the way people think they are above criticism when publishing/posting information online. An air of holier-than though mixed with self-righteousness.
  • Homeles - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link
  • bji - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    Please explain what straw man argument was used in any part of the chain of posts that you are replying to. My contention is that there was no straw man here and that you're just throwing out the term because you don't like the arguments but don't understand why.
  • nathanddrews - Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - link

    The type of people littlebitstrouds described exist and have posted comments on this AT article and other AT articles. The type of people Rexyl described do not exist and no such qualities have been exhibited by AT employees. Straw man.

    If they are both describing broad categories of people from any given corner of the Internet, then both of their comments are completely irrelevant to this article and its comments.

    Annnnnnnd I've wasted my time.
  • easp - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    Not actually free. We pay with our time/attention, which is then resold to advertisers.

    So, guess what, if you get to express your ill considered opinion, why shouldn't everyone else :)
  • edlee - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    I seriously question the idle power numbers, cause I have a e3-1235 (similar to i7-2600) that idles at 21 watts.

    And I have another system that used an i7-3770k, that idles at 35 watts, but has more drives and add in cards.
  • Stephen Barrett - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    Those were just example numbers pulled from here:

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