The Test

Overall, many factors go into web browser battery usage, like GPU accelerated rendering and content caching. Chrome, despite its aggressive timer usage, may still be more battery efficient than other browsers. I should note that AnandTech has historically used Safari on OS X and desktop IE on Windows devices when performing battery life testing.

With this article we are debuting a new browser benchmark tool. Developed in house, this tool automates the usage of a desired web browser as if a user was sitting at the computer. It performs common tasks like launching and closing the browser, opening and closing tabs, loading websites, and scrolling through longer articles. As usual, the websites visited are popular sites cached on the AnandTech server, so the content of the sites does not change between runs. Additionally, the browsers are all run in private browsing mode to prevent local content caching from interfering with reloading our limited set of server-cached sites.

Browsers tested:

  • IE11 Desktop Mode v11.0.9600.17207 (Update versions: 11.0.10 KB2962872)
  • IE11 Modern (Metro) Mode
  • Firefox 31.0
  • Safari 5.1.7
  • Chrome 36.0.1985.125 m
  • Chrome 37.0.2062.68 beta-m (64-bit)

There are several other browsers we would have liked to test, however, due to the time intensive nature of battery life testing, we chose to focus on the most popular browsers. We also chose to test the beta version of Chrome as it is a significant update. Chrome 37 changes from 32-bit to 64-bit and from GDI (legacy) rendering to DirectWrite (modern) rendering. This makes the browser actually usable and no longer blurry on HiDPI displays.

To take advantage of operating system and hardware advances since our last test, testing was performed on the high end model of the Dell XPS 15 (9530) late 2013 edition running Windows 8.1 with all updates as of this writing.

Dell XPS 15 (9530) Late 2013 Specifications
Processor Intel Core i7-4702MQ
(Quad-core 2.2-3.2GHz, 6MB L3, 22nm, 37W)
Chipset HM87
Memory 2x8GB DDR3-1600
Graphics GeForce GT 750M 2GB GDDR5
(384 cores, 967MHz + Boost 2.0, 5GHz GDDR5)

Intel HD Graphics 4600
(20 EUs at 400-1150MHz)
Display 15.6" Glossy PPS 16:9 QHD+ (3200x1800)
(Sharp LQ156Z1 Touchscreen)
Storage 512GB mSATA SSD (Samsung SM841)
Optical Drive N/A
Networking 802.11ac WiFi (Intel Dual-Band AC-7260)
(2x2:2 867Mbps capable)
Bluetooth 4.0 (Intel)
Audio Realtek HD
Stereo Speakers
Headset jack
Battery/Power 9-cell, 11.1V, 8000mAh, 91Wh
130W Max AC Adapter
Front Side N/A
Left Side Battery Charge Indicator LEDs
Headset jack
2 x USB 3.0
1 x Mini-DisplayPort
1 x HDMI
AC Power Connection
Right Side Flash Reader (MMC/SD)
1 x USB 3.0
1 x USB 3.0 (Sleep Charging)
Kensington Lock
Back Side Exhaust vent (inside LCD hinge)
Operating System Windows 8.1 64-bit
Dimensions 14.6" x 10.0" x 0.3-0.7" (WxDxH)
(372mm x 254mm x 8-18mm)
Weight 4.44 lbs (2.01kg)
Extras 720p HD Webcam
87-Key Backlit Keyboard

The latest edition of this laptop upgrades to the "Haswell Refresh" i7-4712HQ with an extra 100 MHz clock rate compared to our test laptop. That should have little to no impact on the browser battery life testing.

Windows Timers Results and Analysis
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112 Comments

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  • ernipiggy - Thursday, August 14, 2014 - link

    Right. Specially since suspending not visible tabs is a new Safari feature in the upcoming release. Reply
  • jonthanfielding - Saturday, September 6, 2014 - link

    It is rather silly, in my own tests on OS X Chrome uses twice as much power as Safari so if I am out and about I use Safari Reply
  • Schwebbz - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    Why no Opera this time? It's more alive than Windows Safari, judging by the rate of updates. Reply
  • Nexos - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    The Opera that is getting updated is the Webkit based one, which would probably perform similarly to chrome, so there is little point in doing a separate test on it. The last bespoke version of opera is 12.17 which is 6 months old now and probably used by a tiny fraction of net users. Reply
  • medi02 - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    "Would probably perform" - eh? Why test Safari then? Isn't it WEbkit based? Reply
  • DanNeely - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    Even before the official forking (celebrated by Google and Apple by deleting millions of lines of the others code from their repos); Safari and Chrome had many major differences in implementation. Different javascript engines was the biggest but far from the only one; IIRC their rendering code used different sub-pixel smoothing rules too. Reply
  • Johnmcl7 - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    At the moment, Opera still looks and feels much like a reskinned Chrome even though it's a year in now. I was hoping by this point we'd have something that looked and behaved like Opera but using Chrome's better supported rendering engine but it's nowhere near that stage and the updates from the developers are not promising. The features they were boasting about in their latest release are additional themes (which are little more than different backgrounds) and when people complain about the features missing from the previous versions of Opera, they're directed to use extensions instead.

    Obviously other browsers have worked fine with extensions but one of the reasons I liked Opera was because it didn't need extensions, it worked well out of the box with a good range of features. As it stands I don't see the point in using a slightly reskinned Chrome rather than just use Chrome itself and I'm doubtful we'll ever see a proper Opera again. Would love to be proved wrong on the latter though.
    Reply
  • ct909 - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    Opera 23 (current) is based on the Chromium 35 rendering engine and the V8 JavaScript engine. It would likely produce different (even if similar) results to Chrome 36 (current). Reply
  • SanX - Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - link

    Current versions of Opera are based on the concept "Written by retards for retards" Reply
  • sluflyer06 - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    Like I mentioned earlier, Opera has hardly any users so it really isn't signifigant to include. Opera marketshare is only .87% Reply

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