Last week I reviewed the new MacBook Pro. Not so much reviewed as tested battery life on it. I came away impressed. In three tests I managed to get between 5 and 8 hours of battery life out of the new 15” notebook. That’s longer than anything else at this performance/size level in my lab right now.

The previous generation MacBook Pro was good for about 3 - 5 hours. The less you do, the more you’ll find yourself closer to that 5 hour maximum. The more you do, the more you’ll find yourself at around 3 hours. Makes sense, no?

The new MacBook Pro works the same way. If you’re just typing in a window most of the time then you’ll find the new model, with integrated battery, will give you a crapton of battery life. Even using it like a productive, multitasking machine will yield close to 5 hours. Obviously your mileage may vary, but with 46% more battery capacity than the previous generation MacBook Pro you can expect at least that in battery life improvement from the new one.

A while ago, at the end of another MacBook review, I pointed out something odd. Battery life under OS X was much, much better than battery life under Vista:

  Wireless Internet Browsing DVD Playback Heavy Usage
MacBook Air (OS X) 4.98 hours 3.93 hours 2.7 hours
MacBook Air (Vista) 2.55 hours 2.05 hours 1.75 hours
Lenovo X300 (Vista) 2.82 hours 2.18 hours 1.68 hours


I attempted to create the same tests under Vista as I did under OS X and consistently found that the Mac notebooks offered much better battery life under OS X.

A few people asked how the new MacBook Pro fared under Windows. It lasted up to 8 hours under OS X, but how bad is the hit when going to Vista?

To find out I put together the same test I ran under OS X under a fresh install of Windows Vista x64 SP1. I even used Safari and iTunes for 64-bit Windows to keep the applications as similar as possible between the OSes.

I set Vista to the same brightness and power settings as OS X. I even chose the maximum power saving profile under Vista (my earlier tests used the Balanced profile). I ran the same wireless web browsing test I did for the new MacBook Pro review:

The wireless web browsing test uses the 802.11n connection to browse a series of 20 web pages varying in size, spending 20 seconds on each page (I timed how long it takes me to read a page on Digg and came up with 36 seconds; I standardized on 20 seconds for the test to make things a little more stressful). The test continues to loop all while playing MP3s in iTunes.
I only ran that test since it should give a good idea of the type of battery life degradation we can expect when going from OS X to Vista. If enough people would like to see more, I can always look at running a few more numbers but I believe this test alone should sum things up quite nicely.

Under OS X, this test yielded a battery life of 8.13 hours. The same test under 64-bit Windows Vista? Just over 6 hours:

New 15-inch MacBook Pro (73WHr battery) OS X 10.5.7 Windows Vista x64 SP1 Windows 7 RC1
Wireless Web Browsing (No Flash) Battery Life 8.13 hours 6.02 hours 5.48 hours


That’s nearly a 26% drop in battery life from OS X to Vista. When I first published these tests I spoke to a few PC OEMs to see if they had noticed any similar results. No one was willing to go on record but some OEMs did at least admit to seeing a ~20% difference between battery life in OS X and Vista.

The situation is apparently a bit better under Windows XP but not significantly. Even more depressing is the fact that Windows 7 doesn’t appear to make the situation any better. I still have a couple more hours in my Windows 7 run but I’ll update this page once I have the results. Right now it’s looking like ~6 hours for the new MacBook Pro under Windows 7 x64 RC1. Update: I finished the Windows 7 results and unfortunately it looks even worse than Vista. The even lower battery life is possibly due to earlier, unoptimized drivers for Windows 7. Either way, it doesn't look like Windows 7 is going to fix this issue.

Many have said that Sony and Lenovo are capable of offering similar battery life under Vista to what Apple can provide under OS X. We’ve been after both companies to get us hardware to help prove this point, but so far neither one has actually followed through. Needless to say, this is something we’re going to continue to investigate. I just figured you all might like to see updated results.

The SATA 3Gbps vs. 1.5Gbps Issue


View All Comments

  • StraightPipe - Monday, June 15, 2009 - link

    Came here to say this.

    iTunes gets terrible performance in Windows. If that is part of your tests, it's not going to be a fair fight. Something lightweight (like Winamp Lite) or something native (like WMP) would be a better apples-to-apples comparison.

    It's sort of like running a non-native application inside a emulator and expecting the performance/effeciency to be the same.

    //waiting for some fanboy to try and use this test as "evidence" that OSX is better than Windows...

    //awesome battery power, way to go apple!
    //still dont like the non-removable battery. Proprietary 5 point screws to ensure you dont change the battery..tsk, tsk.

    //my Dell XPS M1710 can barely get through a 2 hour movie before the battery's a desktop replacement, so I have no problem running it on a wire.
  • sprockkets - Tuesday, June 16, 2009 - link

    Those screws are just Torx screws. You can easly find Torx screwdrivers anywhere.

    Btw, after working with them and Phillips screws, I wish all the screws were Torx. Those Phillips screws get stripped so easily.

    In contrast, all the hard drives I've taken apart, even their tiny screws, as tight as they were put in (via air screwdrivers), all come out without stripping.
  • slashbinslashbash - Tuesday, June 16, 2009 - link

    Nope. Torx uses 6-pointed stars. These are 5-pointed stars. Reply
  • sprockkets - Tuesday, June 16, 2009 - link

    Well, at least the top one was... Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Monday, June 15, 2009 - link

    There have been people who've installed Win7 on the new Macbook Pro and it still only runs at 1.5g. Definitely not an OSX problem. Reply
  • winterspan - Monday, June 15, 2009 - link

    The SATA 1.5Gbps issue on the new 13" and 15" Macbook Pro is even more SEVERE than expected.
    (The 17" Macbook Pro, white 13" Macbook, and 13" Macbook Air all have SATA 3.0Gbps so are not affected.)

    I'm not sure about all the variables in play here, but for whatever reason (perhaps due to different points of overhead and/or controller architecture) people using fast SSDs on the new Macbook Pro 13" and 15" are seeing them bottlenecked at far less than 150MB/sec.

    Here are some preliminary results for sequential read and write speeds from a new 15" Macbook Pro versus the older using an OCZ 120GB Vertex:

    Test: Sequential File Read and Write Throughput
    App: HD Tune Pro 3.50
    Drive: OCZ Vertex 128GB (MLC)

    Old MB Pro 15" (same SATA II as 13" MBA/13" MB/17" MB Pro)

    Sequential READ = 225 MB/sec
    Sequential WRITE = 180 MB/sec

    New 13" and 15" MB Pro (SATA I)

    Sequential READ = 115 MB/sec
    Sequential WRITE = 95 MB/sec

    Bottom line, if this is a hardware problem that can't be corrected by firmware, Apple REALLY SCREWED UP. Although you'll still get the benefits of fast random access in the OS and applicaitons, The SATA I in the new 13"/15" MB Pro will cause an enormous performance degradation when copying large files or transferring large files to and from external drives --- on the order of losing >50% of your throughput!
  • Shadowself - Monday, June 15, 2009 - link

    How is this going to limit any transfers to or from an external drive? The fastest external interface on these machines is the 800 Mbps Firewire (1394b) interface. That is way below (after subtracting overhead) the 115 MBps and 95 Mbps maximum you give. Thus I don't see any reduction in the read/write to an external drive let alone the >50% you claim. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, June 15, 2009 - link

    External devices aren't the problem; the problem is internal SATA drives running at half their designed bandwidth. That said, how much file copying (i.e. sequential transfers) do you do on a regular basis? Even if those situations are half as fast as they could be (and they're more like 60-70% as fast), I don't think I copy large files around on my HDD much at all, and if you only have a single HDD it's mostly a non-issue. Still doesn't make sense, though. Reply
  • Fallen Kell - Monday, June 15, 2009 - link

    Its not OS but DRIVER problems, which in a sense, still is an OS specific issue. Reply
  • sprockkets - Monday, June 15, 2009 - link

    no, its a BIOS/EFI setting then if both OSes cannot operate at 3gb. The 3gb speed has been out for years, and other MacBooks have no issue with operating at 3gb. Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now