Laptop battery battle: Apple MacBook Pro vs Acer, Dell, Toshiba and others

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Laptop battery battle: Apple MacBook Pro vs Acer, Dell, Toshiba and others

If you're in the market for a new laptop, one of the most important, and tricky considerations is battery life. We've bench tested 10 ultimate laptops in our latest issue, and here are the results

The once-cavernous gulf between laptops and desktop PCs has never been narrower. Laptops now offer the sort of power that was a mere pipe dream a couple of years ago, and they're beginning to rival desktops in their versatility as well.

One of the key buying criteria is battery life, which is a topic subject to some controversy over the way battery life is advertised.

In the latest issue of PC Authority (September 2009) we've bench tested 10 of the world's biggest and best laptops, including a battery benchmark test. This includes Apple's famed MacBook Pro, Dell's Studio XPS 16, Acer's Aspire 8930G, and a Toshiba Qosmio G50-127.

So how did they stack up?

How we tested
We run two battery life tests. For our light-use test, we run a simple timer application until the battery runs out, and for the intensive test we push the processor to its limit with our multitasking benchmark. This gives us a minimum and maximum battery life. We use the battery settings most suited to longevity and performance. For simplicity, where laptops have dual graphics, we've only graphed the "stamina" times for light use and "speed" times for heavy use.

The results

click to view full size image
Apple's MacBook Pro compared strongly in our light use test, but dropped back to second last position in the heavy use benchmark. Click to Enlarge

Lenovo's X301 was a clear performer in both battery benchmarks. Also interesting were the results achieved on the MacBook Pro under Mac OS X with higher powered nVidia graphics enabled.

To see the rest of the reviews, including how the laptops stacked up in terms of features, performance, and value for money, see the September 2009 issue of PC Authority magazine, which is on sale now.


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