Snow Leopard Battery Life Issues with Flash: Fixed

Snow Leopard brought forth 64-bit versions of many Apple applications. Finder, TextEdit and Safari (among others) could now run in x86-64 mode. However, last year I found that browsing websites that used Flash with 64-bit Safari dropped battery life by over 40% in Snow Leopard compared to 32-bit Safari in Leopard. To fix the problem you had to force Safari to launch in 32-bit mode.

While Apple never recognized the problem nor discussed why it happened to begin with, it appears that it’s since been addressed in OS X 10.6.3. The results below tell all:

Snow Leopard Battery Life Improvement
Flash Web Browsing Battery Life OS X 10.6.1 OS X 10.6.3
15-inch MacBook Pro (Mid 2009) - Core 2 Duo 2.53GHz 277 minutes 344 minutes

Flash web browsing battery life improved tremendously from the original release of Snow Leopard. While it's still not as high as in Leopard, it's a definite improvement.

Windows 7 Battery Life

A handful of users asked that I look at battery life under Windows 7. Being your humble servant, I of course obliged. I attempted to recreate my OS X benchmarks under Windows 7 as best as possible, using Chrome and Windows Media Player in place of Safari and iTunes of course. You can’t draw any conclusions about OS X vs. Windows 7 battery life from these numbers however. As I mentioned in the original review, under Windows 7 the MacBook Pro keeps the discrete GPU enabled 100% of the time. There’s no way to shut it off. Battery life will inevitably be lower than OS X.

Windows 7 Battery Life
  Light Web Browsing Flash Web Browsing XviD Playback
15-inch MacBook Pro (Mid 2010) - Core i7 2.66GHz 255 minutes 255 minutes 153 minutes

It appears that the dGPU being on all the time is the reason we can't get better browser battery life regardless of workload. The XviD playback test also takes a hit compared to OS X thanks to the discrete GPU. In our previous articles we found OS X to be roughly equal to Windows 7 in XviD battery life.

Core i5 vs. Core i7 Battery Life High Resolution, Matte Display: Tested
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  • Penti - Sunday, April 25, 2010 - link

    There is still no IPS-panels for notebooks being produced really even though the battery powered iPad got one in a area where there were none, but on the other hand as they try to sell it as a machine that can do anything they need a wide-angle viewing screen. Otherwise people would just laugh at it as a ebook-reader and cool colors and comics won't change that. People have grown used to sitting straight in front of the laptop screen. It just isn't acceptable in a tablet device, and smart phones has even begun using AMOLED screens. In fact the professional tablets (i.e. those costing 1500+ dollars) have been using IPS based screens for a while now. But I don't think a single screen is manufactured for 15" notebooks with IPS, and the screens for the 12-13" convertible tablets are optimized for power consumption and viewing angles any way not color. I don't see Apple pony up for IPS-panels in the macbooks. They will get them when the others do use them. Custom parts just aren't apart of their computer lineup. We can't expect more then the Geforce 320M chipset in that apartment :)
  • rcocchiararo - Sunday, April 25, 2010 - link

    Are there diferent "grades" in TN panels quality ?

    im 100% sure my GF notebook has worse viewing angles than my late 2008 macbook pro, and that my 2007 or so macbook white was similar or worse than my gf notebook.

    Also, no notebook from work has a decent display either.

    I almost thought that my macbook pro had a "mobile version" of the s-ips panel my 20.1 inches dell from 2007 has :P
  • rpottol - Tuesday, April 27, 2010 - link

    Yup, Levanto dropped them from Thinkpads because the just could not get them reliably in the quantities they needed.


    I think I will stick with older thinkpads, but then I'm the sort of person who would want a 15" QXGA display (2048x1536) and yet not have the CPU for HD playback (well, perhaps).
  • Xyp - Monday, April 26, 2010 - link

    Anand -

    There is lots of interest in seeing some of your benchmark numbers on the current-gen MBPs (128, 256, and 512...), especially after degradation. If any of your people know the skinny on whether Apple has at all revised the firmware on the currently-shipping Toshiba drives, or whether they will be attempting a TRIM-like function (let's be serious, it's Apple... they'll rename it) with updates to OSX, that information would also be much appreciated.

    Thanks for your excellent site.
  • Wolfpup - Monday, April 26, 2010 - link

    Does this let you install the normal Nvidia reference drivers under Windows? People seem to think Apple's preventing it (or possibly it won't work because of their switching technology).

    Either way, if this won't run normal drivers, that rules it out for me :(
  • asiafish - Monday, April 26, 2010 - link

    I just got the new 15" i7 with high-res matte display, and must say this is by far the fastest computer I have ever owned. Build-quality is every bit as good as my Oct 08 MacBook Air, and far better than any pre-unibody Mac (or any other laptop) I've ever used.

    Battery life is incredible with simple browsing in Safari and email/calendar in Entourage.
  • gochichi - Tuesday, April 27, 2010 - link

    For example, does the glossy high resolution screen offer up the same backlight? How do you know that the $50 cheaper glossy display will have the 400 nits backlight? Is the 1440x900 screen as bright?

    I mean guys, what I'm hoping a tech website can do for me just to put it bluntly is help me make a decision as to which product to use or buy. In a nutshell, help me make an informed decision. What I want to see is a 3-way comparison of the standard glass covered display, the glossy high res display and the matte high res display. What I get instead is an opinion that someone else would go with a glossy high res display that they've in fact never even seen.

    Measure stuff for me, show me some pictures of things I want to see. I've been a long term reader of Anandtech and frankly I expect the obvious. Worse yet, I can go to a local Apple shop and compare th low res to the matte display for myself.

    Honestly... on what grounds are you recommending the glossy high res. It just "sounds cool"? Sigh.
  • Brian Klug - Friday, May 14, 2010 - link

    I think you're reading a different article entirely, because basically everything you just sounded off on is actually in this one:

    1. 400 nits claim - Right inside:

    Performance was 412 measured with an i1D2.

    2. Matte > Glossy - Also inside:

    Comparison and side-by-side with photos.

    I'm confused what you're reading, because *all* of that stuff is there.

  • jlyall - Saturday, May 1, 2010 - link

    Hi Anand,

    A big cheers for both the write ups on the new MBP. You have made my job of choosing about 1000x times easier. The hole in my pocket will be bigger but I know I will be happier in the long run. Cheers again and have a lovely day.

    warmest regards,

  • Woodoo - Tuesday, May 4, 2010 - link

    Hi there, I have a question regarding viewing angles differences between the glossy and matte options. Is there a noticable (or at least some) difference between the two LCD panels mounted to the latest MacBook Pros in this aspect?
    P.S.: I'd love to see an IPS panel in the future MacBooks Pro, even as a high price option...

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