An ultrabook is designed to be slim, light and portable, but if its battery only lasts two hours away from the mains, this rather defeats the purpose. So how long does a Windows 8 laptop last on its battery alone?
In the Which? test lab we test every laptop for battery life, by browsing the web and also watching movies from its hard disk, so you can buy the best portable laptop. Find out more about our tests in our how we test laptops page.
Laptop battery life compared
We compared the first 18 Windows 8 laptops tested in our lab with Apple’s 13-inch Macbook Pro with Retina Display running Mac OS X and the Samsung Series 3 Chromebook running Chrome OS, to see which gives you the best internet battery life.
The longest running Windows 8 laptop for web browsing is the Acer Aspire timeline Ultra M5-581T – a 15.6″ screen, 2.1kg ultrabook. It lasted almost six hours on battery – enough to get you to from London to Middlesbrough and back – and fell 30 minutes shy of the battery life of the 13″ Apple Macbook Pro Retina, but costs around £500 less.
If you switch to watching movies from the Acer’s hard disk, you’d get four hours and 37 minutes of movie viewing time – a little over an hour less than the Macbook.
Given the Samsung Series 3 Chromebook is heavily reliant on internet access due to its lack of on board storage, its three hour and 44 minute battery life isn’t great, proving comparable to the average battery running time of the Windows 8 models on test. However, it’s a snip at around £230.
On average, the 18 Windows 8 laptops on test squeezed out 24 minutes more web browsing time than movie playback from a charge of their batteries, but not all laptops ran longer on battery for web than playing movies.
Windows 8 vs Windows 7 battery life
Windows 8 is designed to be more efficient than Windows 7. Upgrading a laptop’s operating system from Windows 7 to Windows 8 can improve battery life, but in terms of the laptops available, there are still Windows 8 models that only just about manage two hours of web browsing on the battery.
The average web time we got from a charge of the battery on the 57 Windows 7 laptops we tested last year was four hours and 32 minutes. The best was the Acer Aspire Timeline X 5830T which managed almost 7 hours of web time from a charge of the battery.
The worst battery life on Windows 7 came from the Dell Inspiron 17R, which managed just one hour and 45 minutes of web time. The worst of our 18 Windows 8 models, the 15.6″ Advent Monza T200, eeked out another 20 minutes.
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