Last week Chris Guthrie at netbook Reviews ran a battery test on two virtually identical netbooks: An Asus Eee PC 1008HA with Windows 7 and one with Windows XP. He found that the Windows 7 model ran for an hour longer than the Windows XP model, which made it look like the operating system actually helped improve battery life on that netbook. I was impressed and wrote up a summary of the experiment on Liliputing.
But then things stopped adding up. Asus sent me a Windows 7 Asus Eee PC 1008HA to review and I ran Battery Eater Pro on it. Not only did I get about half the run time that Chris got on his test… but I found that the laptop ran for about an hour less than the Eee PC 1008HA with Windows XP that I reviewed this summer. In both cases, we’re talking about virtually new demo units sent directly from Asus.
And then the plot continued to thicken. Kevin Tofel at jkOnTheRun has been using a Toshiba NB205 netbook for a little while. He purchased one with Windows XP but later installed Windows 7. When he ran the Battery Eater Pro test on his netbook he found that it ran for about 5:50 under Windows XP and only 5:15 under Windows 7.
Since I happen to have a Toshiba NB205 Windows 7 review unit handy, I ran the same test and got only 5 hours and 16 minutes. That’s not a bad score at all (since Battery Eater stresses the CPU pretty heavily, it means you’d probably get 6 to 8 hours of run time in real life). But it does show that for the Toshiba NB205, it seems that Windows 7 doesn’t improve battery life: it hurts it. And despite Chris Guthrie’s test results, it looks like the same is true on the Asus Eee PC 1008HA.
What’s interesting is that Windows 7 does give users far more control over their advanced power settings than Windows XP. But the operating system also incorporates more graphics and animations that could be taking a toll on battery life. But that doesn’t really explain very much either, since most netbooks, including the Toshiba NB205, ship with Windows 7 Starter Edition which disables many of those graphical effects. The Asus Eee PC 1008HA does come with the fuller-featured Windows 7 Home Premium, though.
What do you think? Do you have any experience testing devices with Windows XP and Windows 7? Have you noticed any change in battery performance?