Microsoft’s browser Edges out others in battery usage

It's a fair guess that the majority of users have a browser window open all day, often with multiple tabs or windows. That means it can considered an "always-on" piece of software for the most part, and software like that needs to go easy on that precious battery juice. Microsoft recently did a thorough comparison of power usage among major Windows browsers, and its Edge browser emerged as a clear winner. A video is worth at least 10,000 words, so here it is:

Edge took the battery life crown with a run time of seven hours and 22 minutes. Opera didn't fare too poorly at six hours and 18 minutes, either. Things aren't as rosy with the other two major browsers, however. The notebook's battery only lasted a little over five hours with Firefox running, and Chrome guzzled power at an alarming rate, turning in a run time of only four hours and 20 minutes. Yow.

Microsoft ran these tests in its dedicated power testing lab on a bunch of Surface Books. According to the company, the browsers were left at their default settings and ran the same tasks over and over again until the device's battery was dead. Those tasks included opening sites, scrolling through pages, watching videos, and wrangling multiple tabs. Microsoft also used a selection of popular websites including Facebook, Google, Wikipedia, and Youtube.

The graph above shows Microsoft's measurements of power usage per browser when running identical tasks. The company also collected power consumption data obtained from devices in actual usage via Windows 10's telemetry.

Microsoft doesn't intend to rest on its laurels, though. The upcoming Windows 10 Anniversary Update will add even more power-saving fixes and features to Edge and Windows itself. In Edge, background tabs ought to consume less power by triggering fewer JavaScript timers and coalescing them. That move alone should net great gains in terms of CPU usage. The company's internal tests show savings of 90% for some sites.

Background JavaScript timer management improvements

After the Anniversary Update, the thrice-darned Flash plugin will run inside a separate Edge process, too. That change will let the operating system monitor and control the plugin's resource usage more closely. Edge's Reading Mode is also getting a few power-saving improvements. Finally, Windows 10's networking stack will receive a host of IETF-sanctioned optimizations , like TCP Fast Open, Initial Congestion Window optimization, implementation of the Tail Loss Probe algorithm, and a improved packet loss detection feature called Recent Acknowledgment. The more the merrier, we say.

Comments closed
    • tipoo
    • 4 years ago

    Opera is getting cocky – I like it. Browser wars round 72 anyone?

    [url<]http://www.theverge.com/2016/6/23/12011802/opera-microsoft-edge-opera-battery-life-claims[/url<]

    • watzupken
    • 4 years ago

    Honestly, I feel speed translates to efficiency. Chrome may burn through more fossil fuel, however it certainly feels more snappy. My experience with IE since version 8 was that it feels clunky and it is noticeably slower when launching or loading pages with other web browser.

      • Tamale
      • 4 years ago

      Edge has nothing to do with IE… it’s a completely new app.

        • Andrew Lauritzen
        • 4 years ago

        Yeah and Edge is very fast… in fact it “feels” even faster than Chrome to me due to how it handles scrolling and rendering.

        It’s definitely sparse though, so depending on how many features/extensions you use in Chrome it may or may not be a suitable replacement.

          • tipoo
          • 4 years ago

          Yeah, if you have a trackpad that allows smooth scrolling on Windows, Edge is still a class above everything else, even IE11 was above the others there. Strangely even on OSX, Chrome has a scroll lag, where it could have just plugged into the OSX (sorry, macOS…That’ll take a while) scrolling method.

        • VincentHanna
        • 4 years ago

        It’s actually not COMPLETELY new. They took out most everything older than their HTML5/XML engines, and added some new standards, but it is still structurally very similar. Edge is the starwars 7 of internet browsers.

    • puppetworx
    • 4 years ago

    I wonder how Brave compares.

    • jessterman21
    • 4 years ago

    Not surprising, since I also get literally half the battery drain when watching local video through the built-in Movies app vs. VLC. I wonder what the secret sauce is?

      • sweatshopking
      • 4 years ago

      Im not sure. I’ve been a LONG TIME vlc user, and hated the default windows 8 video apps. The new one is decent, and I use that more than vlc now.

      • BobbinThreadbare
      • 4 years ago

      VLC does it’s own thing instead of using built in codecs. Try WMP or MPC and see how they compare.

        • Andrew Lauritzen
        • 4 years ago

        Additionally the built-in movie app has some special sauce on newer laptops wherein it can use things like multi-plane overlays and seamless 48Hz refresh + panel self refresh to avoid re-rendering the desktop all the time.

    • Kretschmer
    • 4 years ago

    Out of curiosity, is there a way for the user to estimate application energy usage on laptops (i.e. like Android offers)? My gaming laptop has awful battery life and I’d love to cull the offenders.

      • Andrew Lauritzen
      • 4 years ago

      There’s the energy analysis thing:
      [url<]https://support.microsoft.com/en-ca/kb/976034[/url<] Might be better ways as well, but that'll get you some detailed info on offenders both in the application and driver space. Warning: it's pretty technical, but that's the nature of a lot of this stuff.

    • mtruchado
    • 4 years ago

    Nothing new here, that’s why plugins like h264ify and implementations like vapi are for. Set chrome with these and problem solved

    • Chrispy_
    • 4 years ago

    I don’t care enough to look this up or fact check, but doesn’t Chrome improve the user experience by preloading a branch of algorithmically-suggested pages and links in advance? I’m pretty sure that’s the power and bandwidth cost of improved user experience.

    Well, that and the fact that it defaults to Google instead of Bing and MSN….

      • tipoo
      • 4 years ago

      Yeah it does a bunch of stuff like that. Almost wish there was a single toggle though, turn on all the user experience enhancing DNS prefetching and first page preloading and search result prefetching and all that when plugged in, but turn them off when on battery.

      • UberGerbil
      • 4 years ago

      And never releases them, which is why individual instances of Chrome can bloat up over 1GB (even when sitting idle) and a couple of windows full of Chrome tab processes have blown past 16GB aggregate on my machine.

      I’d also argue that “improvement” of the user experience due to that caching / preloading is pretty debatable, especially when you’re on a fast connection. And it’s certainly mitigated when I have to take time out to go around killing the fattest Chrome instances to get back some of the utility of my system for anything else.

        • tipoo
        • 4 years ago

        In theory using RAM that was idle anyways can be a good thing, but it all depends on if it adequately relinquishes it when another program wants RAM. Which I gather it does not. Opera has scaled according to the idle RAM amount for a long while.

      • designerfx
      • 4 years ago

      I believe the phrase you’re looking for is “IE turned on a bunch of stuff in the edge update and they’d like to politicize it for the next week before everyone else turns it on”

    • yogibbear
    • 4 years ago

    A quick googles search tells me combining the marketshare of Internet Explorer 8.0-11.0 equals ~24% of the market. So… wonder why MS didn’t include that in their battery test? :/

      • LostCat
      • 4 years ago

      Because not even they care about IE.

        • designerfx
        • 4 years ago

        Also because this would be even more hilarious to compare even IE11 to a current version of every other browser. That’s so far from comparing apples to apples that while it would be reasonable from a marketshare perspective – would be a bit of a joke from a current feature perspective.

      • morphine
      • 4 years ago

      Makes sense to push Edge and let the Internet Explorer branding go.

    • excession
    • 4 years ago

    I don’t really get this…
    The data in the graph doesn’t seem to be backed up by the description in the text.
    The graph shows that Firefox consumes the most power, but the text says that Chrome does.

      • LostCat
      • 4 years ago

      The original site has multiple graphs. Firefox shows with the most overall but less average.

    • fix
    • 4 years ago

    While Edge will use little energy, Outlook open in the background will drain the battery, my guess would be, in less then 2 hours.

    It’s not enough to perfect one app. The whole package has to be energy efficient.

      • Froz
      • 4 years ago

      Edge and Outlook do not come in a package.

        • fix
        • 4 years ago

        True. My point is that there is no point in perfecting one app while many others, including Microsoft apps, drain the battery anyway. If I have a laptop with Microsoft Windows and Office apps only, I want the battery to last long.

          • Froz
          • 4 years ago

          My point was that most people I know access their e-mails with their browsers and do not use Outlook even if they have it. For them the browser’s efficiency improvement really means a lot. Besides, you have to start somewhere.

    • Klimax
    • 4 years ago

    Two links are broken: Initial Congestion Window and TCP Fast Open. Rouge ttps there…

      • LostCat
      • 4 years ago

      haha I figured they’d notice before I said anything, guess not

    • hasseb64
    • 4 years ago

    Good they find A good point with this Edge thing, I only get problems, last thing I experienced was a nonworking Bank.

      • travbrad
      • 4 years ago

      So Edge had really low power usage for you if you had to stop using it.

      • Peter.Parker
      • 4 years ago

      Ok, the first step is done! Now, for the second step, try to “Google Translate” it back in your original language. I bet you’ll get something hilarious…

    • End User
    • 4 years ago

    OS X users have known about Chromes naughty power consuming behaviour for a long time. If you want to get the most battery life out of your Mac laptop then use Safari.

      • rxc6
      • 4 years ago

      Every laptop user should know that using Chrome is beyond foolish. I don’t even have it installed on my laptop. Edge and FF suffice.

        • tipoo
        • 4 years ago

        Firefox is no better than Chrome on battery, some tests show worse. Including this one, contrary to Microsofts text under the graph.

    • albundy
    • 4 years ago

    wow, look at all those browsers. nothing really betwixt them, except for edge. thats amazing that microsoft did a browser test and edge came up ahead. how did they do it?

      • rxc6
      • 4 years ago

      Are you unable to watch the video? It shows how they did it right at the beginning of the video πŸ˜›

        • albundy
        • 4 years ago

        you mean the video that Microsoft conveniently made? yeah, right. why not have a 3rd party do it, that is unbiased?

    • meerkt
    • 4 years ago

    Power saving and sometimes noise-reducing tip for Opera 12: press F12, A. This turns JS on/off. No need to reload page. Running scripts are frozen, and resume when it’s re-enabled. It’s useful also to improve the GUI behavior and general responsiveness in some sites.

    Any way to do that in other browsers? I couldn’t find a way to dynamically toggle JS in Firefox, , extension-based or otherwise.

    • Andrew Lauritzen
    • 4 years ago

    I’m guessing this is almost entirely due to Chrome still making some strange choices in terms of codec support for streaming video. In particular, play a video on youtube with Edge (or most other browsers) vs. Chrome and check the stats and your CPU use.

    Edge will play the x.264 stream decoded in hardware with minimal CPU use.
    Chrome will play the VP9 stream which has to be decoded in software resulting in quite high CPU use, especially for 1080p+ streams.

    I still think it’s a silly political choice that Google is making here that is harming all of their users in the meantime. So IMHO this sort of comparison – while basically just indirectly calling out this one thing – is completely legitimate and Google deserves to be called out for reducing the user experience.

      • tipoo
      • 4 years ago

      There’s an extension that swaps out the stream for the 264 one, even if you shouldn’t have to use it:

      [url<]https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/h264ify/aleakchihdccplidncghkekgioiakgal[/url<]

        • tsk
        • 4 years ago

        As I mentioned above I use that very extension, however it doesn’t seem to bring chrome close to the low cpu load of edge.

          • tipoo
          • 4 years ago

          Not as far, no, but it’s better than Chrome on VP9 if you need it for anything

      • mdkathon
      • 4 years ago

      I was building a simple NUC like HTPC for a friend and found that Chrome did this and Edge did not. Which lead me to the “you’re going to learn to love Edge” speech. I was pretty pissed about it as I knew Chrome would be the browser he would want to use. The extensions seemed like a good idea but if something ever became unsupported then I’d be back to asking him to use Edge.

      Even with 1080p there was a *huge* difference of 20% when playing on Chrome vs. Edge. This was on an Ivy Bridge Pentium.

      Having a Surface Pro 2 and the latest updates using a modified hosts file I’ve been quite happy with Edge. It took a little getting used to. But it’s not too bad. Each browser now seems to have things I like and dislike, but with how well Windows 10 and Edge interact it’s my default choice with the Surface.

      • Duct Tape Dude
      • 4 years ago

      Video isn’t all of it.
      Javascript timers and the way the V8 engine chooses to optimize JS execution have more of an effect on standard web browsing. V8 is heavily optimized towards speed at any cost, particularly memory and with total disregard for energy. Edge and Opera both have a way to lengthen timer execution, defer background tasks, etc. Opera spreads its rendering framerate to 30fps instead of 60fps and disables plugins until they’re needed. Basically they both try and let the CPU sleep longer and more often while doing more on wake, whereas Chrome will do anything and everything to bring you a page as fast as possible.

        • morphine
        • 4 years ago

        Bringing a page as fast as possible is the intended goal for the page you’re actively looking at. The ones in the background… not so much.

      • _ppi
      • 4 years ago

      It’s not just video.

      Frequently Chrome just out of the blue starts using all the CPU resources available, even when it is only in the background. E.g. right now, when all I have in Chrome is this TR forum, even when Chrome is minimized, it uses ~45% of my i5-5300U, fan is spinning loudly and I can feel hot air coming out of the computer. The second I close the browser, all just calms down. And this happens even after restarting the browser.

      I recall on my old Core2Duo desktop, it could have 90%+ CPU utilization when idling in background.

      This makes no sense to me.

        • UberGerbil
        • 4 years ago

        It could very well be a webpage that’s pushing video ads. The thing about Chrome is that it’s from Google, and the thing about Google is that they get paid by advertising. So it’s in their interests to keep the ad pushes going, even on pages you’re not looking at, even on tabs in the background, even in browser windows that have been minimized. If Chrome rotates in an ad on a page, that gets counted as a view and the advertiser gets billed, whether you happened to see it or not. And video ads can be obnoxious CPU hogs (especially on Chrome, due to codec issues, as noted above).

        This gets compounded if you’ve been running Chrome for a while and/or you’re short on memory, because Chrome seems to be especially bad with memory management in constrained situations, and because it never throws anything away it can end up spinning the CPU’s wheels while it tries to cram new crap into a fragmented memory space (since each Chrome process is still just 32bit, mitigated somewhat by shared resources in the parent Chrome process).

        I noticed this behavior initially by watching in Process Explorer to see which Chrome processes where the offenders, and then inspecting the page source to see what they were doing. You can manually kill the offending chrome process, and if you want to get fancy, grab the URL of the offending ad CDN and add it to your hosts file, but you can solve a lot of the issues automatically using the “Great Suspender” Chrome extension, which will suspend background tabs after a set amount of time (moderated by a user-defined whitelist)

      • shank15217
      • 4 years ago

      VP9 is getting hardware assist in new gen GPUs so this is a moot point. Forward looking codecs always face this issue.

      • maroon1
      • 4 years ago

      The latest version of firefox also uses VP9 by default for youtube (only if you have fast PC)

        • Andrew Lauritzen
        • 4 years ago

        Boo, poor choices all around!

    • Wirko
    • 4 years ago

    The takeaway, for me: if I had Windows 10, it would phone home and tell its parents how much power my computer consumes at any given time, along with everything else.

    • seeker010
    • 4 years ago

    I actually like Edge, except it has some really weird bugs; back forward after a google search sometimes skips an entire search; tabs disappear or fail to load or fail to close. I guess once MS decides to have a bit more QC I may use it more. For now don’t really see that big of a reason to switch, I guess I’m on the road with no power outlet nearby.

    • anotherengineer
    • 4 years ago

    So looking at the graph it’s an i7-3667U CPU, hmmm quite the CPU usage. I wonder how high the CPU usage would be on an old brazos or bobcat dual core? A definite improvement none the less though.

    I think all web devs should get a 1.6Ghz dual core when doing dev work so they can see how a browser can gobble up usage and make the code more efficient.

    • tipoo
    • 4 years ago

    So it’s not just an OSX thing then. Even after Google claimed a battery life “fix” it still cuts at least an hour and a half to two hours down from Safari from me. Which is a shame for me as no matter what I do Safari does this odd thing of not budging when I hit enter on an entered URL sometimes, the second hit of enter sometimes fixing it, and then sometimes it seems to just stall out on the first part of loading a page (I’ve disabled DNS prefetching and switched to OpenDNS to no avail).

    But anywho, on topic, I think Edge has a nice rendering engine and the late IEs already did too, nice smooth GPU acceleration and particularly the best on Windows at smooth scrolling if your trackpad allows, but of course it was extensions keeping people to Chrome in the past. We’ll see if that changes now.

      • LostCat
      • 4 years ago

      Edge does that page stall thing here too but only on specific pages. I think it might be a router thing.

        • tipoo
        • 4 years ago

        Hm, on Chrome in Boot Camp on the same system I don’t recall having it, but maybe it’s because Chrome has its own different DNS mechanism? I remember there was an experimental flag for asynchronous DNS or something, maybe that’s default now. I dunno.

      • tsk
      • 4 years ago

      I have to say I quite like edge, on youtube my 5820k sat at 2% load playing a 4k video, whereas chrome was doing 25-30%. VP9 be darned.
      Even when i used h264ify extension on chrome, the cpu utilization sat at around 15-20%, I have no idea why edge was so much lower.

    • moog
    • 4 years ago

    Looking forward to this, once it comes with adblock, I’m switching, the perf gains are too hard to ignore.

      • Sargent Duck
      • 4 years ago

      Insider testers have had access to adblock for a while now.

      But with the Anniversary update, it’ll be open to everyone: [url<]https://www.thurrott.com/windows/windows-10/68183/windows-10-tip-expand-capabilities-edge-extensions[/url<]

      • rxc6
      • 4 years ago

      I’ve been running adBlock(TR is whitelisted OBVIOUSLY) for over a month now. It has improved the experience a lot!.

    • Forge
    • 4 years ago

    Does it have extensions yet? That’s where everyone throws their battery overboard.

      • curtisb
      • 4 years ago

      Right now you have to be running the Insider Preview, but it will be in the Anniversary Update for everyone in the coming weeks:

      [url<]https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-edge/extensions/[/url<] Those are the extensions already available.

      • tipoo
      • 4 years ago

      I wonder when anyone will match the Content Blocker API in iOS/MacOS. Adblock is the one extension I won’t go without, but it seemed to reduce battery life, while a content blocker just creates a single authoritative json file which has a nearly nill CPU overhead, even if you add a bunch of lists.

    • CuttinHobo
    • 4 years ago

    Bonus points for the use of “thrice”. πŸ˜€

      • morphine
      • 4 years ago

      I had much better choice words for Flash other than “thrice-darned,” but I didn’t feel like getting fired today.

        • anotherengineer
        • 4 years ago

        Bummer, since I was looking forward to expanding my Portuguese curse word vocabulary.

          • morphine
          • 4 years ago

          One of the often-overlooked advantages of being multilingual is multiplying the quantity of swear words you know.

    • superjawes
    • 4 years ago

    Did we really need to Explore this pun?

      • morphine
      • 4 years ago

      As long as it can Edge out the original joke…

    • JosiahBradley
    • 4 years ago

    I mean, the browser does so much less than the others, you’d hope it used less power :b

      • dyrdak
      • 4 years ago

      I bet it’s also accounted for the least energy used in total (to download a better browser;)
      Considering privacy concerns (not just big bro MS trying to peek at every aspect of your w10 box, even the “porn-mode” stores history, wtf), plus now being stu(ck/ng) with Bing for search (taken care of on the router) and lack of extensions I’d be hard pressed to use it daily.
      BTW, properly configured FF with noscripts does not even register on performance tab of task manager (outside RAM usage).

        • DPete27
        • 4 years ago

        Yeah….Bing is just the default search engine that the browser comes with (guess, what, Google makes their own search engine the default in their browser also!!). It’s very easy to switch to Google search as the default.

      • ikjadoon
      • 4 years ago

      You mean extensions? This is before any extensions were installed. Expect all browsers to get much worse battery life with loads of extensions installed

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