Battery Life and Power Consumption

In today’s world of more focus being placed on energy conservation, we place more importance in watching our individual use of energy. As notebook users, we equate a more energy efficient computer with longer battery life and less time recharging – hopefully.

Toshiba Satellite P205-S6287 Notebook Review - Mobile  1

The Satellite is a little better on power consumption than the Dell according to our testing. Not enough to say it blows the doors off the Dell but in today’s world, we are looking for any way we can to conserve little bits here and there.

Again, the playing field in this comparison is not completely level. The Satellite is using Windows Vista and the Dell is running Windows XP. The differences in operating systems did require us to adjust our testing methods somewhat.

Our two custom tests are:

  1. DVD playback loop
  2. Spec ViewPerf 8.1 3D Studio Max rendering loop

For each test we unplug the system and time how long it takes before the system drains itself. But to ensure that the notebook doesn’t hibernate in the middle of a test (and thus invalidating the results), we have to use a custom power profile.

Custom power profile:

  • Turn off display: never
  • Put computer to sleep: never
  • Disable screen saver
  • Hard disk – never turn off
  • Wireless – max perf.
  • Sleep – never
  • Hybrid sleep – never
  • Hibernate – never
  • USB selective suspend – disabled
  • Power Button action – default (we leave lid open)
  • PCIe Power State Mgm’t – off
  • Minimum Processor State – 5% (default for high performance)
  • Max processor state – 100% (default for high performance)
  • Search – high perf.
  • Display turn off – never
  • Adaptive display – off
  • Brightness – 100%
  • Multimedia settings / sharing media – prevent idling to sleep
  • Battery / low battery level – 0%
  • Battery / critical battery level – 0%
  • Battery / low battery notification – off
  • Battery / low battery action – nothing
  • Battery / critical battery action – shut down

Toshiba Satellite P205-S6287 Notebook Review - Mobile  2

The Dell did better than the Toshiba in this test by about twenty minutes. I for one would prefer a notebook with over two hours of battery usage but in my real life experience so far, the times I’ve noticed with Windows Vista are very acceptable. The average user isn’t going to make the same adjustments to their power settings like we have for these tests.

While testing computers there is quite a bit of down time for the tester. A couple tests can take several hours, one takes over twelve hours to completely run. That gives me time to look at other findings on the web. While I was testing the battery usage I decided to look at battery life times for other comparable notebooks. I did find that of the Vista notebooks reviewed, most had a battery life similar to the one we tested. I was surprised to see that they all had times within about two minutes of each other. I don’t really have any scientific explanation for this other than the possibility that the different notebook manufacturers all used the same company to provide batteries for their notebooks.

In “real life” use, the power management in the Vista notebooks is very good. I use the computer for a while; close the lid when I’m finished to put it to sleep. When I need the computer again; I open the lid, enter my password and I’m back at it. I can go for a day or two between charges if needed.

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