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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  • ernipiggy - Thursday, August 14, 2014 - link

    Right. Specially since suspending not visible tabs is a new Safari feature in the upcoming release.
  • jonthanfielding - Saturday, September 6, 2014 - link

    It is rather silly, in my own tests on OS X Chrome uses twice as much power as Safari so if I am out and about I use Safari
  • Schwebbz - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    Why no Opera this time? It's more alive than Windows Safari, judging by the rate of updates.
  • Nexos - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    The Opera that is getting updated is the Webkit based one, which would probably perform similarly to chrome, so there is little point in doing a separate test on it. The last bespoke version of opera is 12.17 which is 6 months old now and probably used by a tiny fraction of net users.
  • medi02 - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    "Would probably perform" - eh? Why test Safari then? Isn't it WEbkit based?
  • DanNeely - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    Even before the official forking (celebrated by Google and Apple by deleting millions of lines of the others code from their repos); Safari and Chrome had many major differences in implementation. Different javascript engines was the biggest but far from the only one; IIRC their rendering code used different sub-pixel smoothing rules too.
  • Johnmcl7 - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    At the moment, Opera still looks and feels much like a reskinned Chrome even though it's a year in now. I was hoping by this point we'd have something that looked and behaved like Opera but using Chrome's better supported rendering engine but it's nowhere near that stage and the updates from the developers are not promising. The features they were boasting about in their latest release are additional themes (which are little more than different backgrounds) and when people complain about the features missing from the previous versions of Opera, they're directed to use extensions instead.

    Obviously other browsers have worked fine with extensions but one of the reasons I liked Opera was because it didn't need extensions, it worked well out of the box with a good range of features. As it stands I don't see the point in using a slightly reskinned Chrome rather than just use Chrome itself and I'm doubtful we'll ever see a proper Opera again. Would love to be proved wrong on the latter though.
  • ct909 - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    Opera 23 (current) is based on the Chromium 35 rendering engine and the V8 JavaScript engine. It would likely produce different (even if similar) results to Chrome 36 (current).
  • SanX - Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - link

    Current versions of Opera are based on the concept "Written by retards for retards"
  • sluflyer06 - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    Like I mentioned earlier, Opera has hardly any users so it really isn't signifigant to include. Opera marketshare is only .87%

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