Laptops With Longest Battery Life

Category: Laptops

No matter how powerful your laptop is, it becomes useless when it runs out of electricity. If you spend much your day unplugged from AC current, you want a battery that will last until you get back to civilization (or at least a wall plug). Unfortunately, battery life tests and laptop rankings are extremely variable. Here are some laptops that are good for the long haul…

How is Battery Life Measured?

There are many ways to test a battery and measure how long its charge lasts. Many reviewers don’t test machines themselves, but just rank whatever battery life claims a manufacturer makes. Some reviewers just turn on a laptop and let it sit idle until it runs out of juice, providing a large but pretty useless measurement of battery life.

Laptop Magazine uses “continuous Web surfing over WiFi,” while Computer Shopper’s test consists of “looping an MP4 video with screen brightness at 50 percent and volume at 100 percent.”

Your typical day probably includes a mixture of Web surfing, movie watching, and maybe even some actual work with applications that consume different amounts of power. But I have not been able to find a reviewer who tests laptops in a way that simulates how people actually use them. Take any “best battery life” article you read with a lot of salt.

laptop battery life

That said, playing a video consumes power at the fastest rate of any test protocol I have seen, so Computer Shopper probably provides the most conservative battery life figures. Here, then, are the top five performers in Computer Shopper’s 2016 battery life test:

The Lenovo ThinkPad 550s workstation took first place with a whopping 16 hours, 49 minutes of runtime. However, that time was achieved by combining the 550s’ internal sealed battery with an external swappable battery. This top-of-the-line business machine isn’t cheap, either; Amazon has several sellers with prices ranging from $1399 to $4087!

Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Pro came in second with 16 hours, 5 minutes of continuous video-play. But it managed that impressive figure using just its sealed, internal battery, an important advantage over the Lenovo. Amazon lists many configurations of this Apple product starting at $850.

Other Laptops With Long Battery Life

If you already have a laptop, and you're looking for ways to maximize your run time, see my article HOWTO: Extend Laptop Battery Life to get some practical tips for longer battery life on your laptop

The Acer Aspire One 14 Cloudbook scored a runtime of 14 hours in Computer Shopper’s test. That will get most people through a nonstop flight from New York to Tokyo. Acer’s Cloudbook line imitates the Google Chromebook platform, offering relatively low-performance processors, smaller onboard storage and RAM, and relying on cloud services to do much of the work. But Acer Cloudbooks run Windows 10, not Google Chrome, so the Cloudbooks will be more familiar to mainstream users and can run business apps like Microsoft Office. Best of all, the Aspire One 14 starts at $234.

Intel’s Core M processor is designed for mobile machines; laptops built around it have longer battery lives than comparably powerful machines that use Core i5 processors. In Computer Shopper’s test, the $749 Core M3-based ZenBook UX305CA scored a very adequate 9:33 of runtime on a single charge.

So-called 2-in-1 laptop/tablet combos have two batteries; one comes along with the detachable display in tablet mode. The Toshiba Portege Z20t lasted just 7:06 in tablet form, but when its two batteries were joined in laptop mode they lasted for 14:08. On the downside, Z20t prices start at around $1,399.

Whatever you do with your laptop, it’s important that you be able to do it when electrical outlets are unavailable. Any laptop whose battery can play video continuously for more than a workday’s time should do the trick. The real trick is finding test data that involves video looping.

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Most recent comments on "Laptops With Longest Battery Life"

Posted by:

31 Aug 2016

Sure glad I'm retired and don't need to travel and do business on a battery!!

Posted by:

31 Aug 2016

My laptop is plugged in 98% of the time and is plugged into a powerstrip.

Posted by:

Leslie Courcha
31 Aug 2016

If laptop tests are anything like smartphone tests I agree wholeheartedly with your comments about the way tests are conducted. The video test on the samsung note says battery lasts for 13 hours mine lasted around 11 when I tested it. but when I play the simple suduko game I noticed a massive drop in battery life so I tested it out. I played some 1/2 hour sessions then shut down the phone (couldn't play all day) I only managed 6 hours playing time in total. So being curious I tried a similar experiment on my laptop and I got similar results.

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