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Windows a Battery Hog Compared With OS X, At Least on Apple Computers

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One of the best reasons to get a new MacBook Pro, aside from the dazzling new screen on the 13-inch, and in spite of the SATA capping that’s apparently in place, is the extended battery life courtesy of the new built-in lithium polymer batteries. And by all accounts, even if you won’t necessarily reach Apple’s estimates, you will get more usage out of your notebook without having to connect to a power source. Or you’ll get more usage as long as you’re not running in Windows under Boot Camp, that is.

AnandTech’s Anand Shimpi has been running a MacBook Pro 15-inch through its paces over at his site, and while he was very impressed with the machine’s new battery overall, he noticed a considerable disparity between apparent power consumption under OS X, and under Vista. Nor was the difference marginal. Running OS X while only web browsing, Shimpi was able to coax a little over eight hours out of the notebook under OS X, and only six using Vista. That’s a two hour, or 25 percent difference.

Windows 7, which is supposed to make up for a lot of the mistakes Microsoft (s msft) made with Vista, fared no better. The RC 1 version of the upcoming OS lasted only 5.48 hours using the same test conditions. Some of that can be ascribed to there not being final, optimized drivers for Windows 7 yet, but I doubt that accounts for the more than two-hour deficit it has compared with OS X running on the same hardware.

Windows supporters will no doubt chime in with claims that the Apple hardware is to blame, but Shimpi found some reason to believe that may not be the case. He spoke to a number of PC OEM manufacturers to see if they’d found a difference in battery life between OS X and Vista, and though none would officially go on record, some at least admitted to seeing a similar difference to the one Shimpi had found.

Since Apple doesn’t officially support any third-party hardware, it’ll be hard or even impossible to prove that OS X is, in fact, a more battery-efficient operating system, completely independent of any hardware considerations. Still, that’s one less reason to ever commit sacrilege by dual-booting your Apple notebook, which is bad news for Windows sales, no matter what the cause.

All you hackintosh experts out there, feel free to chime in with your own battery life tales, since your experience running OS X on non-standard hardware might be the closest thing we can get to a fair standard for comparison.

10 Responses to “Windows a Battery Hog Compared With OS X, At Least on Apple Computers”

  1. Terry – Mac OS X is constantly doing background process that eat up cpu and disk I/O which is hard on battery life as well. I don’t care for Windows, but let’s not make it sound like OS X is completely innocent here.

  2. Vista is constantly doing background processes that eat up cpu and disk I/0 which is hard on battery life. Its a crappy OS built on top of years of other crappy versions of Windows.

  3. So I have an early-2008 MacBook Pro, and I love it. Why can’t someone (even Apple!) create a new LiPolymer battery for it? Mine’s replaceable!

  4. Battery life on my hackintosh is less than what I get in Vista. Running Vista SP2 x64 & OS X 10.5.7. I never really get good battery life on my laptop anyway. I’m running a Intel C2D @ 2GHz, 250GB HDD, 4GB RAM, Intel X3100 GPU. All hardware is fully functional.

    • If Windows ran virtualized in parallels or fusion, OS X would still be managing the power system for the laptop so it shouldn’t be different from OS X without Parallels or Fusion running.

  5. Brad Dougherty

    Windows uses the 9600M GT all the time, so I’m sure that doesn’t help with battery life. It would have been closer if they switched to that in OS X.

    • adamjackson

      I’m with Brad on this. I’ve been running Vista on my Mac part time through Boot Camp and 9600 was always on and thus lead to a 1.5 hour battery life compared to 3.5 with the Mac on 9400 card.

    • Andrei

      The article tested the new low-spec $1699 MBP 15″ that doesn’t have a 9600M GT, only the 9400M, so the graphic card isn’t the issue.