win7 battery lifeA few weeks ago Kevin Tofel from jkOnTheRun and I ran a few tests that seemed to show that netbooks running Windows XP get better battery life than those running Windows 7. Our test machines were the Toshiba Mini NB205 and the Asus Eee PC 1008HA. In both cases, the hardware was virtually identical, the only difference was the operating system. And in both cases, the computers lasted 30 to 60 minutes less when running Windows 7.

The other day I was talking to Laptop Magazine’s KT Bradford, and she said she had been noticing the same thing. Yesterday, she weighed in with a blog post that showed pretty much the same thing Kevin and I had found. The Toshiba NB205 loses about a half hour of battery life when you switch from XP to WIndows 7, and the Asus Eee PC 1008HA loses nearly an hour. What’s more, the HP Mini 311 with NIVDIA ION graphics went from 5:43 in the Laptop Magazine battery test to 4:52.

Some folks have suggested that the problem isn’t the operating system itself, but rather all the fancy graphical effects and extra processes running in the background of Windows 7. But that wouldn’t explain why the Toshiba NB205 suffers. The Windows 7 versions Laptop Magazine and I tested were running Windows 7 Starter Edition, which doesn’t have most of the fancy graphics and animations found in Windows 7 Home Premium.

More importantly, if the only way Windows 7 netbooks can match the performance of netbooks running an operating system that’s nearly a decade old is to disable running services and tweak other things beneath the hood, then Microsoft has a problem since most users won’t even know that it’s possible to adjust those settings. They’ll just wonder why their shiny new netbook doesn’t run as long as their old one.

It’s possible that the problem isn’t entirely with Windows 7. It could also be with the interaction between the operating system and the hardware found in most netbooks. The Asus UL30A, for example, uses an Intel CULV processor instead of the Atom chip commonly found in netbooks, and it runs for nearly 10 hours on a charge. I haven’t tested that laptop with Windows XP, but it’s clearly possible to design a machine that will run Windows 7 and get stellar battery life. But if you want an Intel Atom powered netbook that gets good battery life, all the evidence I’ve seen suggests that you might want to stick with Windows XP… for now, at least.

Have experienced the same thing? Or have your experiences with Windows 7 and battery life been different? Let us know in the comments.

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11 replies on “More confirmation that Windows 7 takes a toll on netbook battery life”

  1. For the most part I believe the issues are with BIOS and drivers. let’s face it, almost all netbooks have come out with XP on them. Some manufactures do not even supply drivers for Windows 7. Those that do are only supplying them for newer models which may be similar to older moedel’s which is why some of us have tried using those driver’s. Obviously feeling they are better then Windows 7 drivers that install when you install Win7. However, especially with those Win 7 OS driver’s many of them have not been updated for a while.
    I have noticed some with dates from 2006!! It’s possible some of these are just made over Vista driver’s. We have to understand that with a netbook the technology is more XP vintage then Windows 7. While Windows 7 concerned itself with multiple cores and better graphics. The netbook has really fell behind by using older Intel geaphics. Maybe the newer netbooks with NVIDA’s newer chipsets will do better.

  2. My Asus 1000HA lost about 30% battery life when I installedWin7 Ultimate. The original 6 cell battery went from about 5.30 hrs to about 4.00 hrs. My after-market battery went from about 11.00 hours to about 7.00 hours. I went back to WinXP because portability is one of the main reasons for me owning a netbook.

  3. I have a Samsung NC20 and it gets nearly 6 hours of battery life with W7. Granted, that’s only once the Samsung Battery Manager is running – on vanilla Windows it’s closer to what you’ve found.

  4. Perhaps it is because of Windows bloat? It seems each new version of Windows is bigger than the previous one. I think they could learn from the ReactOS os. I think ReactOS – once it is completed – would make an ideal netbook os.

  5. It almost looks like the 7 machines have poor drivers.

    Did those netbooks come from the factory with 7 on them? Or did the testers format XP machines and put 7 on them? If it was the second, then maybe a driver update from the manufacturer’s site is in order. Goodness knows you don’t get the best drivers from the Windows install disk…

    1. For my part, I tested the NB205 that shipped with Win7 Starter and compared
      the results with Kevin’s test of the NB205 with XP. He also installed Win7
      RC himself and had the same results as me.

      I also tested the Eee PC 1008HA with WinXP as preconfigured by Asus a few
      months ago and compared the results with the Windows 7 Home Premium model
      they just sent me.

    2. When we did our first Windows 7 tests we installed the OS ourselves. The results are in our Windows 7 review. But the battery life scores cited in the post Brad linked to are all from review units sent to us by the manufacturers with the OS and drivers pre-installed.

    3. Hmm, alright. Thanks for clearing that up guys.

      I wonder what it is that’s causing it. You’d expect an OS that’s 8 years newer to draw a little more power, but that’s a really big difference.

  6. I disagree. I own a Compaq Mini 311 and the battery life in xp and 7 is nearly identical. I think the problem is lack of ram. The standard 1gb is just not enough,

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