long-battery PC/Mac to recommend?
June 16, 2016 11:42 PM   Subscribe

Hi, I've been trying to find a long-lasting laptop/ultrabook. I'm querying MF for suggestions. The problem is that the actual performance of the laptops, once you get them, is materially different from the manufacturer's supposed battery life. For instance, I bought a Lenovo T450 which is supposed to have a massive battery, only to find out that the life is 6 hrs tops, when new. And the laptop itself is a heavy beast. I have looked at the XPS13, and am considering the Macbook Air 13", upon which I'd run Windows (because I need Windows for work). Any advice?
posted by earthwalker7 to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
when I used a MacBook Air the stated battery life (~7h) was pretty accurate - I could get a full day at work and not be worried I was about to run out of juice in the afternoon. caveats: my use isn't particularly power-intensive, and battery life of Apple gear may not be as well optimised under Windows.
posted by russm at 12:53 AM on June 17, 2016

Battery life on the Air is worse under Windows than under OSX I believe. If you want all use on a single charge, I think an Air running OSX is pretty much your best option unless you like carrying round extra batteries all the time.

If you need to run Windows, the Surface Pro ultrabooks that Microsoft sells themselves have a very good reputation otherwise, as does the Dell XPS.
posted by pharm at 2:15 AM on June 17, 2016 [3 favorites]

You almost certainly want to wait until the next generation of Apple hardware ships this fall.
posted by mhoye at 2:32 AM on June 17, 2016

Mac laptops tend to have the stated battery life more reliably than windows pcs, but only if you run OS X (now, macOS) on them, and especially if you stick to Safari for your browsing.

Now that the top of the line systems are moving to power over USB-c, it's pretty feasible to get an external battery pack from a company like Anker. Then, if you make sure to get one that supports charging over usb-c, you can choose a system with pretty good battery life (the Dell XPS 13 should get you around 5-7 hours in normal circumstances) and then for when you're going to need more than that, take your battery along with you.
posted by dis_integration at 5:18 AM on June 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

My work computer is a Fujitsu Lifebook with two batteries. It has about 10 hours of battery life fully charged. One if the batteries takes up the place where a CD drive would be, but it is a trade-off that works for me.

It's not a sexy computer, abd it's not super slim, but it has amazing battery life, doesn't weigh a ton, and works great.
posted by jeoc at 5:42 AM on June 17, 2016

I have a Lenovo Thinkpad x240 and when the company asked if I wanted any extra features I said yes to an extra battery. My battery life is from around 13 hours to around 9 hours depending on what I'm doing, and I've seen it as high as 15 hours.
posted by azalea_chant at 7:48 AM on June 17, 2016

Here's the Engadget review that provides a rough estimate of the XPS 13's battery life compared to other laptops, including the Macbook Air. I'm a Mac person, but if were to go back to windows, the XPS 13 would be my #1 choice. I don't run Windows on Mac, but from what I've read over the years, you can probably expect 25%-30% reduction in battery life when running Windows on a Mac vs. the typical battery life on the Mac OS.
posted by puritycontrol at 8:07 AM on June 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've got a MacBook Air 13 that's just under 2 years old. It's heavily used and the battery health is currently ~94%. I do iOS and Windows development, so I usually have Windows running using Parallels. This is the first laptop I've had where I don't bother taking the power supply with me if I'm out for the day, because I can reliably get a day's work out of the battery.

One thing I'd advise if you get a MacBook Air: don't cheap out on the SSD. I did, for reasons I no longer recall, and it's my only regret. You can also get a Transcend memory card that fits (almost) invisibly into the side that can double the amount of internal disk memory, so I use that.
posted by veedubya at 8:42 AM on June 17, 2016

My Thinkpad x250 has ~12+ hour battery life with standard use, i.e. web surfing, some music, a bit of spreadsheet/document/photo editing. I say 12+ because that's the longest I've ever needed and it's still got some battery left at the end -- I've never tried to run it down to zero. I've had it for 8 months.

I got the model with the beefy battery, which sticks out a bit from the body (image). The battery is also hot-swappable, so in theory you could carry extra batteries and switch them out without shutting down the computer. I was a little concerned about the bulkiness at first (like you, I was also considering the XPS13) but I've gotten surprisingly fond of the blocky, sturdy thinkpad design. YMMV of course.
posted by btfreek at 9:05 AM on June 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Just wanted to chime in, don't buy a Mac to run Windows on if you want good battery life. The drivers are not... optimized. OSX will give you great battery life on that hardware, but other operating systems won't.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:28 AM on June 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

I highly recommend a Surface Book for your use cases. It is effectively MS' version of a Macbook Air with a HiDPI screen and Windows. There are more- and less-powerful versions available, and the premium over the Apple hardware is not much. My coworkers love theirs.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 5:09 PM on June 17, 2016

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