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Efficiency Benchmarks: Battery Life

Web Browser Grand Prix 5: Opera 11.50, Firefox 5, And Chrome 12
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Ever since Microsoft announced to the world that IE9 is the best Web browser in terms of power efficiency, we've been wanting to put this claim to the test. While overall power efficiency may be important to data centers and businesses, battery life on mobile devices is what the rest of us worry about. Hence the newly-minted WBGP battery life benchmark.

In order to determine how each Web browser affects battery life, we used a first-generation Dell Inspiron Mini 10v netbook as our testing platform. We installed the 32-bit version of Windows 7 Ultimate and updated everything as of 6/25/2011 (including SP1 and MSE). We also installed essentials like Flash, Java, and Silverlight before installing the five Web browsers. Power management settings were set to never dim or turn off the screen, never turn off disks, never suspend, and shut down on critical battery. That critical level was changed from 5% to 3% in order to match the battery life tests we run on Linux. And finally, brightness and volume were set to full. We used an absurdly large YouTube playlist as the stressor, and the Internet connection was through Wi-Fi, not Ethernet, to further mirror a real-world mobile usage scenario. When the netbook died, we plugged it into a power source and recorded the uptime of the previous boot via a third-party uptime history app.

In our battery life testing, Firefox 5 takes the crown with three hours and 12 minutes of run time. Opera 11.50 is the second-place finisher at three hours and eight minutes. Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 comes in third, averaging three hours and seven minutes. Chrome 12 gets three hours and five minutes to place fourth, while Apple Safari is the only Web browser to average less than three hours of battery life, placing place last.

While IE9 did not win in our battery life testing, remember that when the claim of best power efficiency was made, the browsers that Microsoft tested against were Chrome 10, Firefox 4, Opera 11, and Safari 5.04. The two browsers that beat IE9 in our testing (Firefox 5 and Opera 11.50) have been updated since Microsoft conducted its power efficiency tests. Apparently, the change from version 10 to 12 for Google Chrome and version 5.04 to 5.05 for Apple Safari did not help the WebKit-based browsers achieve better battery life.

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Top Comments
  • 28 Hide
    cadder , July 7, 2011 5:05 AM
    Will you guys please investigate the SECURITY of each browser? I would use the one that is most secure even if it is slowest.
  • 18 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , July 7, 2011 4:54 AM
    Now if just Google would release a 64-bit Chrome browser.
  • 18 Hide
    adampower , July 7, 2011 4:17 AM
    Wow, it seems like I upgrade my browsers every week.
Other Comments
  • 18 Hide
    adampower , July 7, 2011 4:17 AM
    Wow, it seems like I upgrade my browsers every week.
  • -9 Hide
    Anonymous , July 7, 2011 4:23 AM
    somehow it seems that firefox is focussing more on benchmarks rather than actual real world usage.
  • 9 Hide
    Anonymous , July 7, 2011 4:34 AM
    opera keeps impressing me throughout the WBGP
  • 18 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , July 7, 2011 4:54 AM
    Now if just Google would release a 64-bit Chrome browser.
  • 9 Hide
    Tamz_msc , July 7, 2011 4:58 AM
    First of all, this is the most thorough WBGP yet.
    Quote:
    somehow it seems that firefox is focussing more on benchmarks rather than actual real world usage.

    I don't think so - proper page loads and battery life are important considerations.

    I agree that Mozilla did not do a right thing in copying Chrome's release cycle, but at least they're trying - for example, they're trying hard in bringing down memory usage by increasing the garbage collection frequency(check this out in the Aurora and Nightly builds).

    WBGP is basically a test of speed, and Chrome may have won in that, but Firefox is not far behind. I can wait for two or three seconds for my page to load. You can easily bring down the page load times by using addons like AdBlock Plus.

    Even with the faster release cycle, this article clearly states that Firefox is still the most stable browser. Many people say that they've had numerous crashes, but its something wrong with their drivers or OS - I have not had a single crash since FF 4.0 beta 5 (or 7?), when they introduced hardware acceleration for the first time.

    Firefox remains the most customizable browser, while Opera has the most number of features out-of-the-box.

    So overall, according to me Firefox>=Opera>Chrome>IE 9> Safari.
  • 28 Hide
    cadder , July 7, 2011 5:05 AM
    Will you guys please investigate the SECURITY of each browser? I would use the one that is most secure even if it is slowest.
  • 4 Hide
    Tamz_msc , July 7, 2011 5:10 AM
    Quote:
    Will you guys please investigate the SECURITY of each browser? I would use the one that is most secure even if it is slowest.

    That's easy: FF+AdBlock Plus+ NoScript+Ghostery+BrowserProtect
  • -8 Hide
    ChiefTexas_82 , July 7, 2011 5:43 AM
    IE 9 is a speed demon? I droped IE because it started running like ****. I blame loading too many side programs after years on the web. So I wanted to try Chrome or Firefox. Being a Google fan already, I tried Chrome. So far it leaves my old IE8 in the dust. Except for a certain bug, I would say it has been an improvement in almost every way.
  • 2 Hide
    ChiefTexas_82 , July 7, 2011 5:45 AM
    I don't like how Nvidia's GPU auto-detect doesn't work on chrome.
  • -4 Hide
    thartist , July 7, 2011 5:47 AM
    Damn, Opera has it's flaws but it's nonetheless the one that does one thing best: browsing.
  • 9 Hide
    wheredahoodat , July 7, 2011 5:56 AM
    I have personally along others have remained loyal to Firefox for years, but the latest moves have been are puzzling. Despite the benchmarks, they have not addressed bad cold start up problems (test on netbooks not on desktop rigs to find out), and the Firefox 4/5 new javascript engine has been a nightmare memory wise causing many to banish Firefox or remain with version 3.6 on older computers.

    Also instead of prioritizing the electrolysis project which would have made Firefox as snappy as Chrome, they are wasting their time on the Azure graphics project to replace a only few months old Cairo engine for marginal benefit because html 5 is still just the future, with no real significant penetration for the web.

    Mozilla can only push their base so far with their incompetence. Back then there was no real competition or alternative for a big market share, standard compliance browser. However there is now a real alternative with Chrome, and Firefox's gradual but definite market share hemorrhaging has shown that incompetence has consequences.

  • 12 Hide
    beavermml , July 7, 2011 6:00 AM
    which one is the best in term of security out of box?
  • 2 Hide
    akorzan , July 7, 2011 6:05 AM
    On the last page in the table and row "proper page loads," why is Opera in twice and no Safari?
    Surely, this is a typo.
  • 1 Hide
    Maziar , July 7, 2011 6:19 AM
    Thanks for the review,I was waiting for this !
  • 12 Hide
    andy5174 , July 7, 2011 7:28 AM
    No doubt that Chrome is notably faster than Firefox so that I can feel the difference easily. However, Chrome lacks many useful features/add-ons offered by Firefox that I've been using for years. This is the main and only reason that Firefox is still my default browser.
  • 1 Hide
    obarthelemy , July 7, 2011 7:48 AM
    I'm still uncomfortable with those kind of tests. Especially because they don't take into account out-of-the-box features and creature comforts. I have all 4 installed (no Safari), and I find use Opera most, because it does very good Mouse Gestures, tab management, and synch. Without any addons ! I find Addons a very mixed blessing: I had plenty of headaches with FFox's, what with compatibility issues when upgrading FFox, bug and slow/ban/non-existent support... I find that having all required functionnality included in the base browser is a big plus, more-so for non-techies.
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , July 7, 2011 8:12 AM
    How can you place Firefox in Memory Usage as strong. This thing is leaking all over the place. Should you review your methodology?
    PS I m an early adopter of FF since 2.0 but I consider switching due to this memory issue.
  • 14 Hide
    johnsmithhatesVLC , July 7, 2011 8:13 AM
    Firefox is the only browser that can block all ads properly. It's also the most reliable at page loading as the WGP has proven. I really don't care about millisecond differences in page loads. Firefox is the best to me.
  • 4 Hide
    lucas1024 , July 7, 2011 8:45 AM
    Thanks for including the reliability test! I had almost convinced myself to switch to Chrome from FF5, because of the memory usage, but not anymore - I do like my pages to load every time and I routinely have 30-40 tabs open.
  • 0 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , July 7, 2011 8:49 AM
    page 3 :
    64-bit Desktop Test System
    Operating System
    Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate (32-bit)
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