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Squeezing More Life Out of Your Notebook's Battery Part I

Intel Claims That The Display And Chipset Consume More Energy Than The CPU

By consuming more than 30% of a notebook's power, Intel's calculations reveal that the display is the most power hungry of all components. Thus, it also offers the biggest potential for power savings. The CPU and disk storage each account for a more modest 10% of overall power consumption. But be careful! The measurement method that Intel used to compile this chart reckons only on low workloads for these components. Those who use notebooks to play DVDs, or for any kind of multimedia encoding, will observe that power consumption requirements for CPU, memory and storage devices all run higher than this chart suggests. As a consequence, battery life under such conditions also tends to fall off markedly. The same effect also naturally holds for those who play video games on their notebooks. And for notebooks that include current generation GPUs, the power that they and related video RAM can consume can multiply overall power consumption several times over. As a result, battery life under these circumstances becomes minimal at best.

A remarkable result occurs in those situations where the LAN or WLAN interfaces are used intensively. According to the information presented in the preceding diagram, WLAN and LAN components use only up to 2% of the energy stored in a typical notebook battery. Actual measurements confirm that even when the network interfaces are heavily loaded, battery life shows no significant reduction. But in Intel's own benchmark scenario, network components are either idle or only minimally used. That's why the chart is not as compelling as it might otherwise be for uninformed users.

Before we present you with a series of various real but also extreme usage scenarios that can make a decided difference in battery life for users, we'll first explore the most important difference among the batteries used in notebooks today. We also provide a set of instructions on how best to care for such batteries, followed by a series of ruminations on buying battery replacements or supplements. Those whose interests lie elsewhere scan skip both of these sections in this article, and jump directly to the heading that reads "Test conditions and system" to dig right into our test report and the results we measured.