The Test

Overall, many factors go into web browser battery usage, like GPU accelerated rendering and content caching. Chrome, despite its aggressive timer usage, may still be more battery efficient than other browsers. I should note that AnandTech has historically used Safari on OS X and desktop IE on Windows devices when performing battery life testing.

With this article we are debuting a new browser benchmark tool. Developed in house, this tool automates the usage of a desired web browser as if a user was sitting at the computer. It performs common tasks like launching and closing the browser, opening and closing tabs, loading websites, and scrolling through longer articles. As usual, the websites visited are popular sites cached on the AnandTech server, so the content of the sites does not change between runs. Additionally, the browsers are all run in private browsing mode to prevent local content caching from interfering with reloading our limited set of server-cached sites.

Browsers tested:

  • IE11 Desktop Mode v11.0.9600.17207 (Update versions: 11.0.10 KB2962872)
  • IE11 Modern (Metro) Mode
  • Firefox 31.0
  • Safari 5.1.7
  • Chrome 36.0.1985.125 m
  • Chrome 37.0.2062.68 beta-m (64-bit)

There are several other browsers we would have liked to test, however, due to the time intensive nature of battery life testing, we chose to focus on the most popular browsers. We also chose to test the beta version of Chrome as it is a significant update. Chrome 37 changes from 32-bit to 64-bit and from GDI (legacy) rendering to DirectWrite (modern) rendering. This makes the browser actually usable and no longer blurry on HiDPI displays.

To take advantage of operating system and hardware advances since our last test, testing was performed on the high end model of the Dell XPS 15 (9530) late 2013 edition running Windows 8.1 with all updates as of this writing.

Dell XPS 15 (9530) Late 2013 Specifications
Processor Intel Core i7-4702MQ
(Quad-core 2.2-3.2GHz, 6MB L3, 22nm, 37W)
Chipset HM87
Memory 2x8GB DDR3-1600
Graphics GeForce GT 750M 2GB GDDR5
(384 cores, 967MHz + Boost 2.0, 5GHz GDDR5)

Intel HD Graphics 4600
(20 EUs at 400-1150MHz)
Display 15.6" Glossy PPS 16:9 QHD+ (3200x1800)
(Sharp LQ156Z1 Touchscreen)
Storage 512GB mSATA SSD (Samsung SM841)
Optical Drive N/A
Networking 802.11ac WiFi (Intel Dual-Band AC-7260)
(2x2:2 867Mbps capable)
Bluetooth 4.0 (Intel)
Audio Realtek HD
Stereo Speakers
Headset jack
Battery/Power 9-cell, 11.1V, 8000mAh, 91Wh
130W Max AC Adapter
Front Side N/A
Left Side Battery Charge Indicator LEDs
Headset jack
2 x USB 3.0
1 x Mini-DisplayPort
1 x HDMI
AC Power Connection
Right Side Flash Reader (MMC/SD)
1 x USB 3.0
1 x USB 3.0 (Sleep Charging)
Kensington Lock
Back Side Exhaust vent (inside LCD hinge)
Operating System Windows 8.1 64-bit
Dimensions 14.6" x 10.0" x 0.3-0.7" (WxDxH)
(372mm x 254mm x 8-18mm)
Weight 4.44 lbs (2.01kg)
Extras 720p HD Webcam
87-Key Backlit Keyboard

The latest edition of this laptop upgrades to the "Haswell Refresh" i7-4712HQ with an extra 100 MHz clock rate compared to our test laptop. That should have little to no impact on the browser battery life testing.

Windows Timers Results and Analysis
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  • Way69 - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    I seriously question the validity of even including Safari in this test. Safari for windows hasn't been updated since 2012.

    Either exclude safari or actually test the OS X version (at least that would make for an interesting read).
  • manuroc - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    And why on earth exclude a modern browser like Opera while keeping outdated Safari.

    In addition, since there is a curious performance degradation across Chrome versions, why not test dev version 38?
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    Stephen originally tried testing Safari, and felt the issues were at least worth mentioning. We forgot to remove the "non-result" from the chart but that is now fixed.

    As for Opera, it's something to look at in a future update, but that will require additional testing/scripting to get working properly. The major browsers are IE, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari (admittedly, it's really only for OS X and iOS), so that's where we started.
  • SanX - Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - link

    I'd support in future testing Opera for PC ver. 12 maximum but not touching yet newer Opera ver. 20+ which is just in development and so is a total mess

    Opera for ARM mobiles is very good by the way, I keep 20 tabs ON all the time and see literally zero consumption
  • sluflyer06 - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    The answer to that probably lies within the fact that Opera is a statistically insignificant browser. Their market share is down to .87% in the desktop/laptop scene.
  • Stuka87 - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    You do realize that 1% of the worlds internet users is 28 million people right? While the percentage may seem small, it is far from insignificant.
  • Bob Todd - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    It is insignificant to anyone that writes software for the web. Even large multi-billion dollar companies often do not bother to test _any_ version of Opera with their web applications. Same logic applies for someone spending time scripting battery life tests. Do you want to add another 20% to your time/effort to get this working for something that less than 1% of your readership cares about (even if browser stats for Anandtech have a higher slant toward Opera than the rest of the averaged web, it will still be far below the others).
  • easp - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    On the other hand, *if* Opera was significantly better than others at something as significant as power efficiency, it would be rather unfortunate if a site like Anandtech didn't highlight that fact.
  • soccerballtux - Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - link

    thats a good point
  • sluflyer06 - Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - link

    *if* it was much better than it is, then naturally the market share would increase and it would be statistically significant to cover in the first place.

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