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?

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62 replies on “Windows 7 + netbooks = lower battery life?”

  1. i am using windows 7 but have used xp sp2 and vista home premium but honestly the 7 experience is better than xp and vista.in a way win7 does eat more with aero style graphics,indexing service,etc…but try aero graphics on xp and vista or windows search and you will realise that actually win7 is doing a better job of handling.xp was made when certain soft and hardware was still to be invented and vista is seriously a joke,a poor attempt to attract people and market but win7 incorporates the old and makes way for the new(well i think it will get old in say about 5 years but still) and it still has a lot of scope.battery life being a main issue in issues,we just can hope the people at microsoft corp. realise that most people want it all for less and in a smaller size with a huge punch but less effort…hopefully windows 7 is a good effort at that.

  2. Hey guys everything’s fine now.
    I have the NB200 (the EU version of the NB205).
    I was getting like 8 hours under XP with the TOSHIBA PM.
    When I put 7 on I just wanted to go in the closet and cry 😀 something like 4 to 5 hours ;(
    Since TOSHIBA didn’t release any version of their power manager for 7,I started searching and changing settings…and actually it’s quite simple just go in the Power Management in the Control panel create your own personalized power profile,put everything to minimum,but the most important part was Processor management I put that to 20-25% which is fine.
    Now I’m 8:30-9 hours of battery life in Windows 7 😀
    Skype,8-10 Chrome tabs,and some note taking programs run smoothly,you can watch normal quality videos too.
    Cheers! (thumbsup)

  3. I would have to agree that Windows 7 does hurt battery life. At least with netbooks. But here is my thoughts on why. I believe for whatever reason the fan cycles more with Windows 7 then Windows XP. Maybe its because I do run Windows 7 Premium. Maybe its because manufactures have not released a tuned BIOS for Windows 7 for their netbooks. Maybe its because Windows 7 is better tuned for other CPU’s.
    Its probably a compbination of all of those that lead to reduced battery life. I for one like Windows 7 better then XP, so I will put up with the lower battery life. Although I have begun to turn off things like Aero when I want to save. Windows 7 does this automatically in Power saver mode so even Microsoft must think Aero is bad for power consumption.

  4. I am using a toshiba sattellite pro L300 ez1502 and I tried XP vista and Windows 7 I have experienced more battery life in vista, less in XP and the least in Windows 7. now I am using windows 7 and I may return to XP because I have been experiencing dvd player problems and battery life problems. it lasts less than an hour when full

  5. Well, on my hp 6735 since i installed windows seven, my battery died and am asked to replace it…at the first installation i lost one hour of the battery and slowly the battery died
    (u will excuse ma english) I am French

  6. i wonder if more efficient use to the hardware is to blame. squeezing more power out of the silicon means more power is squeezed out of the battery

  7. Laptos battery does not depends on the operating system.It’s depends on the graphics that you are using.You have to use dark color graphics for more battery life because it use less power.

    1. Yeah, while you’re getting all your graphics dark, make sure and empty the hard drive too. All the extra data on the drive makes it heavier and thus increasing power necessary to spin.

  8. I recently bought an Asus 1005HA Premium eee pc with XP preloaded on it. I got a sweet deal on windows 7 Professional so i decided to do an upgrade. With XP i got close to 9 hours of battery life (never 10 or 10.5 hours like advertised, but i was still happy) with bluetooth disabled, wifi on, and screen at about 30-40% brightness. I am thrilled with windows 7. It’s been great so far. Though, I noticed a difference in battery life immediately. It now says that a 100% charge gives roughly 7.5-8 hours. And that estimate is optimistic. I really get more like 5.5-6.5 hours. It’s kind of annoying, but I’ve been messing around with the power and display settings so I think I’ve collectively increased the total time to about 7 hours now. However, even though it kinda sucks, I don’t mind sacrificing an hour or so for a much needed OS upgrade. Hopefully Asus or Microsoft fix any battery consumption problems with some updates. But, I’m probably being optimistic

  9. i installed win7 ultimate on aspire one (with SSD) and i get more than 20% less battery life. but it is win7 ultimate and using all graphic interface stuff.

  10. did anyone think to check and see if they turn off Aero? i mean obviously XP will have the better battery life if Aero is enabled in Windows 7. Yes, i love eye candy too, but for someone with a netbook that just wants to get on the internet i think can do without the Aero. I think Windows 7 power management runs beautifully, i think just as good as XP. The Luna Interface adds more color, but to be honest, it isnt really graphics intensive nor does it add any “pizazz” to the OS, unlike Aero where there is some form of functionality.

    I read a few articles about this issue, and to point out that there is an uneven playing field. I think Windows Vista/7 comparison is equal b/c they both utilize Aero and have similar aesthetics. I think the true test should be to turn off fancy UI’s (Luna in XP and Aero in Both Vista and 7) to have a true test. Then i think thats where the answer will be. Don’t Forget, especially in windows 7, the Aero UI adds some functionality to the OS so i would assume extra processes will be running the background among the fancy graphic changes. Plus with the more graphics intensive the OS is, the more power is required for the battery would have to output for the display adapter alone, not much but even a small amount will make a difference.

  11. I’m noticing on my Toshiba nb205 that the battery life has really gone down since my upgrade to Windows 7 Ultimate (from windows xp)…. the toshiba software that was preinstalled along with windows xp was pretty strong I believe… maybe they still need to work on it more with windows 7? I dont know… in any case, i’m not totally satisfied with the battery life on windows 7 on my NB205 netbook… I may go back to windows xp…

  12. I think you might be missing the purpose behind Battery Eater. The program attempts to disable all battery saving features of the operating system in order to benchmark the battery. It’s not the right test to run to see how well an operating system helps out with energy savings- because this program will disable every advantage Windows 7 has over Windows XP. With everything even, you’re left with a new graphically intensive operating system against one that is not- and it’s only obvious which one will win.

    To test the two operating systems correctly, forget about Battery Eater (it doesn’t test the OS, it only tests the battery). Set two systems side by side, power them up with their maximum power saving settings enabled (making sure no third party power saving utilities interfere, and making sure they don’t go to sleep or hibernate or anything), and let them sit for a few hours. Finally, make sure the battery circuit is shutting the system down, not the operating system.

    Also, you need something that will display the results of the stresses being placed on hardware (not just the battery life results). My reasoning is that one system is actually doing more work than the other system, or is clocked at a different speed and voltage. A system doing less work or operating at a slower clock speed with a lower voltage will naturally last longer. Manufacturers like ASUS include their own third party power saving utilities (SuperHybridEngine) that could be interfering with the battery results. It seems possible that this program is running on the stock Windows XP installation, but was not installed on Windows 7.

    Windows 7 has many tweakable power settings. I’m sure if the system is able to use them, you should see a noticeable battery life improvement on the Windows 7 system compared to XP. But when those power settings are disabled, you are left with a new bloated operating system against an old less bloated one. XP will win every time.

    Kind of reminds me of the old PowerPC G5 benchmark campaign that Mac did in 2003. It showed the G5 was faster than what Intel had to offer, but only after all of the performance features of the Xeon and P4 were disabled to level the playing field. Essentially, that’s what Battery Eater is doing. With the playing field leveled, XP will win. But let 7 do its thing, and you should see an improvement.

  13. Windows 7 distroid 1 battery… i can rund my laptop just 10 seconds after the damn 7 messed whit it…

  14. It’s likely that drivers have a significant impact on battery usage. Sucky drivers = more power used. It’s possible that in some cases the XP drivers are more power efficient and in other cases the Vista/7 drivers are more efficient. That might be why on some machines one OS gets better battery life and on other machines and the other one does better.

  15. I installed Win7 Ultimate on my Asus1000HA and got much shorter battery life than with WinXP. I set everything to to maximum power save and I still got much worse battery life. I have an extended battery which gives me about 11 hours with wifi off and low screen brightness. The battery was reduced to about 7 hours with Win7. I uninstalled Win7 and went back to WinXP.

  16. I installed Win7 Ultimate on my Asus1000HA and got much shorter battery life than with WinXP. I set everything to to maximum power save and I still got much worse battery life. I have an extended battery which gives me about 11 hours with wifi off and low screen brightness. The battery was reduced to about 7 hours with Win7. I uninstalled Win7 and went back to WinXP.

  17. I’ve got Win 7 RC running a WUBI dual boot of Ubuntu 9.04 UNR on my HP Mini 1000 (which came with HP MIE on it) and of all three OS’s, without a doubt, my Win 7 has the longest battery runtime. I have not yet tried 9.10 UNR..but it should be about the same as Win 7 for battery.

  18. check out the notebookreview.com’s review of the win 7 version of 1008ha
    they said that the battery life is about the same for both win 7 and xp

    1. Just make sure when you test Windows 7 again that you let it completely index the drive first. The first couple of days, the indexing service uses an otherwise atypical amount of resource. On day three or so, the machine will be at normalized power consumption.

  19. I just updated to Ubuntu NBR 9.10 and this has extended battery life on my ASUS One D150-1Bw. It looks good too, not to mention quicker boot time, no installation issues (only minor bugs so far). Don’t miss the Redmond Bloatware Special!

  20. On my 1000HE, running Win7 gets me about an hour less of battery life. Considering the extra features I’m running and that the battery is already around 9 hours on XP, I’m not at all upset.

  21. Hey Brad, I had updated my article several days ago with the following:

    “Update: There have been a few concerns highlighted in the comments over the way I performed the test. So please note that I will be redoing the test and updating this post with results after I install a retail copy of Windows 7 Home Premium on the second partition on my Windows XP powered Asus Eee PC 1008HA. By doing this I will be performing the test on the exact same hardware with the exact same battery so the results are not skewed by a worn battery.”

    I still don’t have the retail copy of Win 7 yet (My friend hasn’t been able to go to the Microsoft store to pick it up for me) and I’d prefer to buy it for $50 or however cheap it is instead of paying full price or I’d get it sooner.

    Some food for thought though check out this article from Anandtech on Win 7 battery life:

    https://www.anandtech.com/systems/showdoc.aspx?i=3666&p=13

    What I think the only true way to tell which is better is if Win 7 is installed on the second hard drive partition of the exact same machine. And even then, I would consider just running the test 3 or 4 times to plot some data points.

    Your thoughts?

    1. Indeed, this is the best way to run the test. If you used your laptop for even a little you could have different battery expectancy on each machine. Using the same machine/hardware will remove this problem. Just for shits and giggles it would be interesting to boot up in xp, run the test, then boot up in 7, run the test, and then go back to xp, etc. This way as you cycle the batter so too is the software being cycled.

  22. I wonder if 7 eats more power only on a new system. Windows 7 will run the hard drive pretty heavy on any new system until is has done all the background crap it wants to do (indexing files, etc). This can go on for a couple of days (under light usage) on a brand new system.

  23. Maybe Win7 increases battery life except when being artificially loaded under battery eater pro- maybe under normal usage it does increase life somehow. We need some definitive test- maybe I’ll run some controlled tests on my site

  24. I purchased my Acer Aspire D250 with Windows XP and 6 cell 5200 Mha and I was getting like 6 hours battery life out of it, however when I upgraded to Windows 7 I was only getting around 4.5-5 hours so I know that Windows 7 reduces your battery and I run my system under the balanced power setting.

  25. Win7 almost definitely is more resource intensive than WinXP, however it knows how to reduce energy usage during idling to increase battery life.
    Most likely the battery test constantly stresses the system so it is never idling which of course would make XP the winner.

    Try a lighter test maybe?

    1. Mk124 you are correct, I have noticed when I wake my system from idling I can check the battery meter it often shows that the systems battery power has increased from when I am constantly using the system. However this is what they should relay to the consumer instead of using such bland terminology.

    2. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I have pretty much given up on Battery Eater
      as a test of real-world performance, but I wanted to run it in these two
      cases to compare my results with others’.

      But when I publish a more detailed review on the Win7 Eee PC 1008HA I expect
      to have more real-world results for the battery performance section.

  26. I have read in a number of placed that Win7 is supposed to increase battery life.

    Ubuntu Remix is out which has yet to be reivewed. I did come across a blog where he mentioned that he was going to test it out.

    I will post the update once I test out the Netbook Remix

  27. I also experienced slightly less (probably about 10%) battery life with W7 than XP on my Dell Mini 10 (along with many issues with suspend/resume).

    Win 7 is very good, but I’ve returned to using my Macbook and haven’t looked back.

  28. I think we need to go further then just the battery eater test.

    – Maybe Win 7 is running the CPU less efficently
    – Maybe Win 7 could be spinning the HDD more
    – Maybe, the brightness controils have been affected
    – Maybe Win 7 just runs the wi-fi less effiently
    – Maybe Win 7 pushes out more audio at highter volume

    Really you have to look at how power is consumed on a notebook/netbook and see what’s is different. It could be a few things that are very fixable with new drivers, but something is using power differently.

    I’m sure there is a ‘power hole’ to be fixed, but it has to be found first.

  29. so far on my hp mini 110 i can consistanly get a half hour mor life running windows 7 over xp. i do have mine set to turn off the fancy graphics while on battery. could it be the version that was used in the test. im using the test version of 7 ultimate, 500gb spinning drive and 2gb of ram

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