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Is Chrome Sucking The Life Out Of Your Laptop's Battery?

By - Source: Forbes | B 13 comments

Ian Morris of Forbes has discovered that Google's Chrome browser for Windows can drain a laptop's battery. The problem was first reported back in 2010, and Google is just now getting around to addressing the problem.

Morris reports that the issue stems from a misuse of the "system clock tick rate." When a user opens the Chrome browser, the rate is automatically set to 1.000 ms, and it stays that way until the user closes the browser. That means the processor, which stays "asleep" when nothing is going on, is awakened 1000 times per second. That can raise power consumption by as much as 25 percent.

When consumers open Internet Explorer or Firefox, the rate will stay at 15.625 ms until the processor is required to do something, and the rate is increased to 1.000 ms. Watch a YouTube video, and the tick rate jumps to 1.000 ms. Close the tab, and Internet Explorer and Firefox will shift back to 15.625 ms.

Morris said that he performed a test on his desktop, and discovered that when idle, it eats up 15 to 20 watts with Chrome running. When he closed Chrome entirely, the power consumption dropped down to 12 to 15 watts. He points out that on a desktop, this isn't a problem, but on a laptop, power consumption is "massively important."

So what can consumers with laptops do about this problem? Switch to a different browser until the issue is resolved. Web surfers can also "star" the issue on the bug tracker. However, given that Google is now looking into the problem (thanks to the coverage, no doubt), using an alternative browser for now seems to be the best option.

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  • 1 Hide
    abhinav_mall , July 21, 2014 8:18 AM
    Can anyone do this analysis for Chrome iOS app....!!!!!!
  • 7 Hide
    Amdlova , July 21, 2014 8:21 AM
    i know this bug... memory incrase too if u leave open a tab. chrome fails in non days
  • 5 Hide
    velocityg4 , July 21, 2014 10:01 AM
    If you want to severely reduce battery usage of Firefox or Chrome. Run adblock plus and flashblock. That way you aren't eating up resources on ads and idiotic Flash content. Then just enable Flash content on a case by case basis.

    You could also run Noscript in Firefox to really minimize the CPU hogging garbage. To be honest it becomes a pain to deal with.
  • Display all 13 comments.
  • 5 Hide
    back_by_demand , July 21, 2014 10:16 AM
    Must usd all that extra power uploading your personal data to Google advertisers
  • -4 Hide
    TechyInAZ , July 21, 2014 10:43 AM
    That's bad, maybe that's the reason why Chrome is one of the fastest browers out there, since it consumes more energy, that is why it's faster.
  • 6 Hide
    JoeyDee86 , July 21, 2014 12:00 PM
    I have a Surface Pro 1 with the Power Cover. I get typically 6-9 hours of normal use per charge with it. 4-5 hours of gaming via Steam's In-Home Streaming.

    When I used to use Chrome to watch baseball games on MLB.tv, my Surface would get hot, high CPU usage, and i'd barely get 2-2.5 hours. I thought it was just mlb.tv. I started using Metro IE... I was able to watch 2 games back to back without it being hot to the touch.

    Needless to say, I'm not using Chrome on battery anymore...
  • 3 Hide
    TheAshigaru , July 21, 2014 12:17 PM
    Any idea if this could affect Opera as well? Since it's a Chromium-based browser?
  • 0 Hide
    JoeyDee86 , July 21, 2014 12:26 PM
    Chrome is a fork of Chromium just like Opera is
  • 0 Hide
    danwat1234 , July 21, 2014 12:53 PM
    Quote:
    That's bad, maybe that's the reason why Chrome is one of the fastest browers out there, since it consumes more energy, that is why it's faster.

    It's also because it can have a core working on each tab to render it instead 1 core doing the HTML rendering for all tabs like in Firefox
  • 1 Hide
    CerianK , July 21, 2014 2:38 PM
    To my knowledge, this issue affects Windows only and I have been aware of it (and the issue with Chrome) for about a year. Use a command line utility like ClockRes (to be safe only get it from Microsoft Technet) to explore this behavior. Microsoft has a developers document on the subject called 'Timers, Timer Resolution, and Development of Efficient Code'.

    Firefox v30.0 will go to 1ms after a New Tab is opened and then drop back to 10 or 15.625ms after a minute as long as a video isn't started. Tabs that contain a playing video seem to stay at 1ms even if the video is paused. Once the tab has been closed, then a minute later it will go back to 15.6 (notice not 15.625).

    IE9 will go to 10ms, even during video playback, but I have not looked at newer versions of IE to know how they behave.

    Standalone video players may have the same behavior while they are running, even if not playing a video.
  • 0 Hide
    zubikov , July 22, 2014 6:58 AM
    I can confirm that this is a very real issue. I've been noticing for the past year that my 2012 MB Air gets about 3.5 hrs of use when only moderately browsing the web using Chrome as opposed to about 5.5 hrs when using Safari. If you have Chrome open on OS X 10.0 you can easily see how it eats up more power than all of the other background processes combined.

    I'm really surprised that of all browsers, Chrome would lag this badly it power efficiency. I have seriously began to use Safari as an everyday browser on my laptop, even though I wouldn't dream of doing so on a desktop. Sometimes having 6 -7 hrs of battery life is more important than a tab loading 20ms quicker.
  • 0 Hide
    coolitic , July 22, 2014 9:58 AM
    And since when do browsers use much battery for a laptop?

    Phones maybe, but generally a browser would not consume that much power compared to other things in a laptop.
  • 0 Hide
    CerianK , July 22, 2014 3:07 PM
    Quote:
    And since when do browsers use much battery for a laptop?

    Phones maybe, but generally a browser would not consume that much power compared to other things in a laptop.

    I have no idea about the issue with iOS devices, but with Windows, if the timer interrupt keeps firing faster than normal the CPU will never reach idle.