Testing Laptop Battery Tests
Testing Laptop Battery Tests
AMD’s argument is that the industry should adopt a similarlaptop battery reporting style as cell phones and digital cameras, where there’s an active and a standby score. The company has a valid gripe, but even so, MobileMark is still the best test out there.
AMD is basically saying that MobileMark 2007 tests the equivalent of the standby time in cell phones. That’s a little unfair. Granted, the laptop is using roughly 10 percent of the system resources and there are idle times during the test that brings CPU utilization down to nil. But while the test is made up of various business applications and emulates a day in the life of a business professional, the usage scenarios eat up as much battery life as surfing on the Internet all day.
Bear in mind, MobileMark is an industry benchmark test created by Bapco, a consortium that’s headed and funded by Intel. Some of the biggest PC names also sit on this panel, including HP and Dell battery, and they provide tons of input as to which applications should be included in the benchmark test. Even though AMD is part of this consortium, its input is probably underappreciated, since the majority of processors that run on these laptops are made by Intel.
Thing is, that is exactly what most people do with their laptops. They check their Facebook accounts, compose e-mail, write blog posts, and chat on IM. Although some users may be listening to music or watching videostasks that eat up 50 percent to 80 percent of the average CPU, and subsequentlylaptop battery life, most people don’t use all of the CPU’s power for extended periods of time.
AMD is proposing an active test, in which a gaming benchmark test like 3DMark06 or an HD video would be looped until the battery runs out. Thing is, almost no one does that.
Few people play games for three or fours hours straight on a laptop, and if they do they connect to an AC adapter. After all, CPU speeds would typically throttle down and impact gaming performance. Looping an HD video is more realistic because users can get immersed in a movie or a video. But again, this doesn’t represent the typical day in the life of a user.
We leave wireless radios on, because unless you’re on an airplane, a typical user would want to leave WiFi on.
Put simply, MobileMark 2007 is the best test out there. It uses commonly used applications, such as Adobe products, Apple’s Quicktime, and Macromedia’s Flash. AMD suggests giving two sets oflaptop battery scores, a low and a high rating, but this is no better than saying this laptop gives you two to five hours of battery life. We need a definitive score that addresses active and standby times because there are just way too many battery workload scenarios out there. Right now, there is no other recognized standard test available to reviewers.
Perhaps most importantly, MobileMark allows us to test consistently. It offers a fair comparison of battery life across the swath of laptops on the market, at least for the scenario BapCo has created. Of course it could use improvement, but right now MobileMark is the fairest battery test on the market.