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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  • DanNeely - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    I suspect there would be major technical challenges in doing so. IIRC the standard browser tests just cycle loading a series of pages; this can be done in browser using a bit of javascript; making it easy to do cross platform. This test included things like opening/closing windows that need to be done outside the browser; and which makes me suspect it was done by recording and playing back user input. That would require a cross platform, OS level, UI testing tool. I'm not aware of anything capable of doing that on the market.
  • Stephen Barrett - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

  • MrSpadge - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    Thanks for this test!

    I'm not surprised Firefox came in almost last. I like it, but simply having a few tabs open (with adblock and flashblock active) and just leaving the browser minimized consumes a constant 2-3% CPU. That's 16 - 24% of one logical core of an i7 3770K @ 4.1 GHz!

    I also encourage you to pepeat this test with a regular display. Remember that by now there's just a tiny fraction of high-DPI displays out there. The differences between those 2 tests could sheed some light onto the practical cost of running high-DPI displays.
  • Stephen Barrett - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    Good points. If there is time (this type if testing takes days and days) I hope to do a follow up using Opera and comparing Chrome 36 & 37 at 1600x900
  • seapeople - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    Honestly, forget opera, nobody cares other than the two whiners who post here.

    But I do agree about running a normal resolution display - it's just not fair to benchmark blurry crap against crisp high res fonts and give a performance or battery life number that favors the blurry crap. That's like comparing fps between a laptop running 768p and 1440p and saying that the 768p laptop gives you better performance.

    Ok, I somewhat apologize to the opera users. But seriously - it's 2014, get a normal browser. And not Safari on windows, obviously.
  • furnace51 - Thursday, August 14, 2014 - link

    <emerges from the shadows> I agree, forget Opera, This is not the browser you are looking for <retreats back into the shadows>
  • jabber - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    Yeah I have to say I think we'll be waiting a long time still for those super display sizes to filter down to the 'regular price' brackets.

    I bet this time next year most laptops will still come with 1366x768 screens. Yet my new $200 7" tablet will have a 4K screen on it.
  • Stephen Barrett - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    I will be oh so sad if that is true :-/
    and.... not surprised
  • DanNeely - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    I doubt we'll see them on race to the bottom laptops this side of the 15" 1366/768 panel being discontinued by manufacturers. With demand from tablets/phones pushing high volume production of high DPI panels though; I think the main barrier in the way of them being standard in $1000+ laptops is the number of windows apps that still don't play nicely with highDPI/the roughness of Windows scaling options.
  • zodiacsoulmate - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    Chrome always eat up my battery when watching youtube @ 720p/1080p MP4, however IE11 works just great...
    Please test video play back ! and audio playback!
    I was hoping for more testing for this matter, chrome have been quite disappointing these days

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