What You Need to Know About Battery Life

We typically compare battery life on an ‘Intel Reference Platform’ (i.e., a platform that is intended to be similar to, although not exactly the same, as the products we expect our customers will create with our components) to battery life on a 3 year old laptop, as many people today are using laptops three years old and even older. If we do not have 3 year old systems in our labs anymore, we go to eBay* (or similar marketplace available to an average consumer) and purchase some 3 year old systems. When we do this, we choose products that were on the high end at the time they were released, and which were built with Intel® processors which we made and shipped in high volume. Assuming that most people generally do not bother with the expense and difficulty of replacing the laptop battery, we do not replace the batteries with brand-new batteries. However we do test the batteries to ensure they hold charge normally and do not appear defective. Further, we do additional calculations, based on the power draw of the system and the original battery capacity (when the battery was new), to make sure the measurements make sense.

Battery life may vary substantially by use, system configurations, and settings. Among other things, battery life depends on the size and age of your battery, what your power settings are, how bright your screen is, what applications you are running, and whether you are using wireless or Bluetooth® technology functions while mobile. Battery life also depends on system design, including the memory, processor, and operating system installed on your computer, and how you use your computer (e.g., playing a game or watching a video online consumes more power than word processing).

In addition, actual battery life may not match the theoretical battery life reported by a benchmark for other reasons as well. Benchmark testing is normally done on new computers with fully charged, properly conditioned batteries, yet batteries lose capacity over time and after repeated use. Moreover, users may not fully recharge or properly condition their batteries.

No single numerical measurement can completely describe the performance of a complex device like a microprocessor or a personal computer, but battery life tests can be useful tools for comparing components and systems. Nevertheless, the only totally accurate way to measure the battery life of your computer system is to test the actual software applications that you use on your own system. The battery life test results published by Intel may be inapplicable to your component or system.

Benchmarks and other performance tests are only one kind of information that you may use during the purchasing process. To get a full picture of the performance of a component or system you are considering, you should consult other sources of information (such as battery life information on the exact system you are considering purchasing). If you have any questions about the performance of any Intel® microprocessor, please view the detailed performance briefs and reports published by Intel.

The CPU (the Intel® processor) is not the primary consumer of battery power in a laptop. Lighting the screen uses the most power, and depends on the brightness setting of the screen. A hard disk drive uses more battery power than a solid-state drive (SSD). The latest Intel® processors manage the overall system to conserve power, and therefore help preserve battery life.