Efficiency Benchmarks: Battery Life
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.