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.