Minimum runtime results of the 6-cell MSI Wind

MsiwindbatterytestFolks holding out for a 6-cell version of the MSI Wind keep wondering if it’s worth the wait. I think it is and not just for the added runtime. The 5200 mAh battery is well designed to fit nicely in the Wind and really doesn’t add much bulk at all. In fact, it adds nothing extra on the back of the device; instead, it adds a smidge to the bottom which props the unit up a few degrees. So how much runtime should you expect? I ran two different tests using BatteryEater to give you an idea.Before I share the results, let’s set the stage on what this test does. It stresses the computer non-stop until the battery dies. That means it tells you the MINIMUM runtime of the unit. Just like all of the other times I’ve run BatteryEater on devices, I did this with the screen at 50% brightness, WiFi on and no power management in Windows. So this is a worst case scenario. In the real world, you’ll see better battery life, which I’ll address at the end.

I actually ran this test two times, which is something I don’t normally do. However, the MSI Wind has a unique feature with the “Turbo” button. It used to overclock the 1.6 GHz Intel Atom CPU, but now it only underclocks it. Using this function, you can force the CPU to run only at half-speed, or 800 MHz. While this decreases performance, it should boost battery life.The other reason I ran the tests twice? Brad Linder ran the same test with his nearly identical Asus Eee PC 1000H and his initial runtime was drastically more than mine. We chatted and it turns out that he ran his test with the Asus “Power Saver” function on, which is similar to the underclocking feature of the Wind. In the case of the Asus, Brad tells me that the unit will underclock to 1.2 GHz in order to extend the runtime.OK, enough of the up-front stuff. Let’s get to the results!When I ran BatteryEater with the Intel Atom running at the full 1.6 GHz, BatteryEater stressed the system for 3 hours and 39 minutes. My initial reaction was disappointment, but then again, this is a minimum runtime with no power management. My normal usage is much less stressful than the BatteryEater test so I anticipated at least five hours of runtime. I found that Brad ran his Asus in a “High Performance” mode and saw 3 hours and 19 minutes for his 6-cell Eee PC. Perhaps the Asus actually does overclock?After my chat with Brad, I re-ran my Battery Eater test, but this time, I fixed the CPU at 800 MHz. The minimum runtime was one minute shy of five hours: 4 hours and 59 minutes. I’d estimate that you could handle the slower clock cycle, the battery would last for seven or more hours. I’ll have to spend some time with the CPU at 800 MHz to see what kind of performance it offers and if I can tolerate it. Brad used the Power Saver function on the Asus and got 4 hours and 25 minutes in his test.Conclusion: I see no reason that you can’t expect at least five hours of usage on a single charge with the MSI Wind and 6-cell battery. You might be able to eek it out to six or even seven if you underclock, but five is a sure bet for everyday usage. Obviously, if you stress the machine with heavy duty processing or video watching, that’s a close scenario to the BatteryeEater test and you’ll see less runtime.Sure enough, I took the MSI Wind to my fantasy football draft night where I had WiFi on the whole time and never put the unit into Sleep mode. I was running a single application and also browsing the web. I used the Wind non-stop in that scenario from 6:30pm to 10:15pm, or 3 hours and 45 minutes. When I shut down for the night, Windows told me that I had a 33% charge left in the 6-cell battery, which roughly tells me that 5 to 5.5 hours of real world usage isn’t out of the question at all.One last thought on the 800 MHz vs 1.6 GHz clock cycle: BatteryEater provides results on the amount of “work effort” it does during the test. I’m including the data here to show that while the 800 MHz clock cycle can increase the device runtime, it will actually do less computing overall, hence the performance hit.1.6 GHz:Msiwind16workdone_2800 MHz:Msiwind800workdoneSince very few of us sit around and calculate Pi all day, I’ll set my unit to 800 MHz and try to use it for a day at some point during the week. I suspect that for basic web browsing, it might be fine, but for any multi-tasking or video applications, it might not be tolerable.


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