A few weeks ago, I ran some battery tests on my netbook. I have  both Windows XP and Windows 7 installed on my Toshiba NB205, which takes hardware variances out of the equation. My early looks show that Windows 7 offers 10% less runtime on the […]


Credit: LAPTOP Magazine

A few weeks ago, I ran some battery tests on my netbook. I have  both Windows XP and Windows 7 installed on my Toshiba NB205, which takes hardware variances out of the equation. My early looks show that Windows 7 offers 10% less runtime on the exact same device. I’ve since done some additional testing, thinking that the graphically intensive Aero features of Windows 7 might be the biggest factor. Unfortunately, that’s not what I found — using Windows 7 with all of the advanced Aero features off not only makes your netbook look like a Windows 95 beta, it doesn’t help run time in any noticeable way.

Readers offered up great commentary on the testing techniques and I can’t argue that there are many ways to run these tests. But even my informal testing shows the same trend continuing. When I use XP in my normal work day, it runs longer than when I use Windows 7 on the same hardware and in the same use cases. But don’t take my word for it. Brad Linder of Liliputing confirmed the same results not long after my testing and now LAPTOP Magazine completes the trifecta.

In fact, LAPTOP put three different netbooks through the paces — and all of them offered less run time on Windows 7. They used an entirely different approach as well, one that’s more reflective of real world usage, so it’s a safe bet that you’ll see less battery life on a Windows 7 device. Will there be exceptions? Of course there will — everyone uses different power management settings, not to mention they use their devices in different ways. But by and large, it looks like there’s a small battery life sacrifice with Windows 7 on a netbook. Should that stop you from using Windows 7? My opinion, is no, but if you’re happy with XP and don’t want or need some of the new Windows 7 features, you might want to stay put.

You’re subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. I have noticed the same thing on my full size laptop but I personally find that all the new Windows 7 features and better usability offset any battery loss. This is however my opinion, YMMV.

  2. Wouldn’t this be a granted? Software (XP) designed for old hardware will run more efficiently (at the expense of features) than a new piece of software developed for the modern PC.

    My battery runtime stayed almost exactly the same on the 900HA though

  3. @gmazin — not necessarily. Microsoft claimed that Win7 offers 11% better battery life than Vista.


  4. What are the “killer” features of 7 compared to XP?

    I still dont know why I should make the switch…except docking windows…

    1. For me, the reasons are:

      Search-based everything. No more having to care about Microsoft’s insane control panel arrangements. No more having to scroll through uselessly categorized Program menus in the Start Menu, if you know what program you want to launch.

      More nifty keyboard shortcuts. Especially for dealing with multiple monitors: Windows-P for managing external monitors (P for Projector), Shift-Windows-Left and -Right for moving windows between the internal and external monitor, Windows-Down for Restore and Windows-Up for maximize, and so on.

      Not really nifty, but important in this sad era: Able to restart video drivers without crashing the whole system. On that note, for the newer drivers that are available in both XP and Vista/7, the Vista/7 drivers sometimes seem to have better performance. On a couple Vostros with Intel graphics that my organization bought recently, the XP version seems so laggy, while the Vista version is pretty snappy.

  5. I think once Intel, VIA and AMD begin dropping their next-gen processors and chipsets into netbooks, Windows 7 will be the only “Windows” OS option to go for. I say this for two key reasons:

    1. Drivers for new chipsets/hardware will be more than likely coming in Win 7 flavors as opposed to XP.
    2. Moving away from 45nm to 32nm/28nm will alleviate the current battery discrepancies.

    So while the big majority of users may be happy with XP for now on current hardware, I would be cautious of next year’s gear not necessarily coming with driver support for XP, but exclusive to the newer/current Windows 7.

  6. Vista and Windows 7 have an option that’s supposed to increase responsiveness and, incidentally, battery life: Use a spare SD card in the ubiquitous SD card reader for a ReadyBoost cache.

    ReadyBoost is a little computationally intensive, with its data tracking and compression and 128-bit AES. But it seems like an intriguing option to try.

  7. Theguywhohasacomputer Friday, January 1, 2010

    Before I got Win 7 Ultimate, my battery life was 3 hours (Vista HP), I have 3GB RAM, and now, on the lowest brightness, my battery life is 1hr 10mins…

Comments have been disabled for this post