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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  • bazant - Sunday, May 9, 2010 - link

    Thanks for the review - helpful! I'm about to buy a new machine - mostly to combine a lot of photography (processor and screen important), a lot of travel (size, weight and battery important) - was looking at the 15" i7 MacBook pro but then the Asus UL30JT has been announced... Any idea how do they compare head to head? It looks like Asus put all the power into 13" body with a very similar battery life...

    Any comments would be great!
  • NoOne1 - Monday, May 10, 2010 - link


    Could you elaborate on how you tested the machines' batteries?

    1. When you say you used iTunes, does that mean you played iTunes songs over the built-in speakers? What was the volume level?
    2. On all your tests, was the backlit keyboard on?
    3. When you performed your Xvid test, were you playing over the built-in speakers? Was the discrete GPU activated?
    4. Was the discrete 330m GPU ever activated or was only the Intel HD being used in all the tests?

    I just finished performing an Xvid test on my 2 week old i7, with the battery properly calibrated, with the backlit keyboard at one notch, the brightness at two bars from full brightness, and using HEADPHONES, at a little over half of max volume, and I could only squeeze out about 4 hours. One of the movies I played back once had the brightness set at one notch above MID brightness!! The discrete GPU was activated though.

    I have not been able to come close to your browsing number of 451 minutes using just Safari by itself browsing Mac Rumors forums, although I wish I could.
  • wuju - Wednesday, May 19, 2010 - link

    Not sure if it works.
  • wuju - Wednesday, May 19, 2010 - link

    Here is what I have

    Macbook Pro 15" High Res, i7 processor, 7200rpm hard drive. installed windows 7 in bootcamp.

    I wanted to test the battery with light web surfing with Mail and iCal running in the back to see if I can get close to 9 hours of usage. I've calibrated the battery and it's a week old machine.

    I get a 10% drop of battery from the battery indicator per 1/2 hour, which equals to about 4-5 hours of usage. I can see it drop 1% for every 2-3 mins. I have wifi on off course plus using the Apple bluetooth mouse (I imagine bluetooth does not drain that much battery?).

    Is my 4 hours of battery result from a full charge normal due to the hardware configuration - it's like half of what Apple claims the battery to be for light web surfing! What do you guys thing? Did I get a lemon and have a defective Apple product before I demand for a new macbook pro replacement? Thanks in advance for all your help.
  • wuju - Wednesday, May 19, 2010 - link

    The brightness is set to 50% as well.
  • hd_ - Saturday, June 5, 2010 - link

    Same experience, I took it to a service centre. I was nothing wrong with the battery.
  • PubicTheHare - Saturday, September 18, 2010 - link


    I think you mentioned (not sure if it was this article) that the 15" MBPs are still running hot, and that we should wait until the NEXT generation.

    Was it the latest 15" MBPs that you were referring to?

    I have a Santa Rosa 15" and likely won't upgrade until OSX natively supports TRIM and the MBP has USB 3.0, but I'm curious about the heating issue.

    My SR MBP runs HOT.

  • lilee221 - Monday, September 20, 2010 - link

    I bought a APPLE MacBook Pro 15-inch Series laptop, but when i'm on trip, the battery cannot last a long time, so i search a replacement battery online for its relatively cheap price but good quality.
    Finally i bought one at
  • MacManx - Sunday, October 3, 2010 - link

    On the subject of glossy vs matte screen displays for the mid-2010 15-inch Macbook Pro, I am looking for a screen protector which will fit the matte display (with silver surround) - I am aware that the Moshi iVisor AG screen guard does not fit the matte display. Many thanks for any advice.

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