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Best laptop battery life 2019: Which laptop lasts the longest?

Tom Bruce
5 Jul 2019
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Find out which laptops went the distance in our battery life test

Purchasing a brand new laptop is no easy task. So many fantastic devices come out each year that it can be difficult to narrow down your options. In addition, there are so many aspects of a laptop to consider, from display size and resolution to CPU power and graphics capabilities. Yet there’s one thing that just about everybody needs: a good, long battery life.

Anyone who regularly brings their laptop out and about knows how crushing it is to run out of power when you’ve left your charger behind. Or perhaps you do have it, but there seem to be no power sockets within three square miles of your vicinity. Whether you’re a student working through a marathon of lectures or a traveller bingeing shows on a long-haul flight, it’s always handy to have a laptop that lasts.

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One way to estimate battery life is to look at the battery size of a laptop, which is measured in mAH or Wh. The larger it is, the longer it should keep your device running – in theory, that is. Factors such as display size and brightness will alter how far that full charge will take you, while a demanding CPU will drain battery like it’s going out of fashion. Even the cooling inside the laptop takes its toll.

To help you avoid scrambling on the floor of the nearest coffee shop in search of a socket, we’ve tested hundreds of laptops to find out which ones have the longest-lasting battery. Read on to find out about our testing method and see which laptops get top marks.

Best laptop battery life: How we test

Whenever we review a laptop we run an exhaustive series of benchmarks, one of which is the standardised battery rundown test. The video consists of several scenes from the classic motion picture Spiderman 2 (2004), encoded to H.264 and played on a continuous 20hr loop using VLC media player, with the laptop fully charged but unplugged.

We also turn off all of the Operating System’s battery saving settings, switch the laptop to flight mode and set the display brightness to exactly 170cd/m2. This method ensures that battery tests are as consistent as possible across all devices. The final battery life result is the time on the video upon rebooting the laptop.

To find the very best performers, we’ve compiled a spreadsheet of battery life data on the hundreds of laptops we’ve reviewed over the years. Next, we eliminated the devices which have been discontinued and thus are no longer available to buy. Finally, we selected the top twenty laptops with the longest battery lives and placed them into an easy-to-use chart. So, which laptops achieved the longevity every tech-head desires?

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Best laptop battery life: Results

As you’ll notice in the chart below, almost all of the entries are laptops that have been released in the past 1-2 years. This is a predictable trend; laptop manufacturers continue to innovate year in, year out, designing smaller machines with larger batteries and improved power efficiency. Older laptops simply cannot compete and new technologies are always rolling in. As such, you can expect almost every laptop on this list to be replaced within the next couple of years. Now, let’s find out which laptops played Spiderman 2 for the longest.

Last time we did this roundup, the joint top spot went to a pair of Microsoft machines. One of these was the Surface Pro (2017), aka the Surface Pro 5, with its leviathan battery life of 11hrs 33 mins. The tablet-hybrid fought valiantly to keep its position, as did the Surface Book 2 15in, another Microsoft laptop with an identical battery result. Replacing them atop the podium is the Toshiba Portégé X30T-E-13H, a stunning detachable laptop that packs not one but two batteries. Despite its hefty Intel Core i7-8550U CPU, the Portégé was able to stay awake for 12hrs 8mins of video playback – that’s a real marathon session of Spiderman 2!

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Making the top five are the LG Gram with 11hrs 23mins and the larger LG Gram 17 with 11hrs 16mins. Both machines are the best in their class in many areas of performance, and the 17in Gram is particularly impressive. Three Dell machines have landed a top twenty spot, the most recent being the Dell XPS 13 (2019). That model has an Intel Core i7-8565U CPU and withstood 10hrs 35mins of the beloved Spidey sequel before powering down. Just behind it, in 10th place, is the Dell XPS 15 (2017) with 10hrs 25mins. HP also has three entries on this list, and Chinese tech titan Huawei nabs two spots.

You’ll notice that there are a couple of Chromebooks in the best battery life chart. Chromebooks tend to be low-powered devices so it follows that their batteries would not drain as quickly. Apart from Google’s Pixel Slate and Pixelbook devices – which use newer and pricier Intel Core i5 chips – Chromebooks often use processors that have little power and thus demand little of the battery. Take the Acer Chromebook 14 for instance, which has a 1.6GHz Intel Celeron N3060 CPU and made it to an impressive 620mins (10hrs 20mins) in our battery rundown test.

In our previous batch of results, Apple managed to get three MacBooks into the best battery life chart. Due to a glut of new entries over the past few months, that number has fallen to just one. So, are you after the longest-lasting Apple laptop? You’ll want to find an Apple MacBook Pro (2016) with an Intel Core i5-6360U, which lasted for a whopping 9hrs 50mins of web-slinging action. Finding a factory-fresh model in 2019 is a tall order but there’s a plentiful supply of refurbished older MacBooks out there. And, as our refurbished laptop guide explains, many of these units can be as good as new.

Remember that there is one major variable that will have an effect on battery life, and that’s the processor. Before reaching for your wallet, note which CPU is inside the model we reviewed – they’re all listed in the chart above. If the configuration you purchase doesn’t have the same specifications, there’s a high chance that the battery life may differ drastically.

We should also reiterate that the results shown in the graph were achieved while the laptops were playing a video, in flight mode and with the display set to a fairly low brightness of 170cd/m2. You can’t expect your laptop to get anywhere near the same battery life when you’re gaming or running a whole bunch of demanding applications at the same time.

Best laptop battery life: Best of the rest

For obvious reasons, we had to limit the number of laptops in the chart. That’s a shame because there are some brilliant notebooks that almost made the cut. The Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 (2018), which was our favourite hybrid laptop of that year, held out for a fantastic 8hrs 29mins. Edging just ahead is every student’s most trusted companion, the Apple MacBook Air (2018) – that went for 8hrs 34mins. Google’s ChromeOS-based Pixelbook has long been a stalwart of our best battery chart at 8hrs 25mins but has sadly dropped down to 26th place. For our money, it’s still the best Chromebook out there.

Unexpectedly, the Razer Blade 15 (2018) gaming laptop almost nabs a top-30 spot, pacing itself admirably to end up with a battery rundown time of 7hrs 7mins. Conversely, the Razer Blade 15 (2019) has the worst battery life we’ve ever seen, at a pathetic 1hr 51mins. That can be forgiven, however, since it’s the best gaming laptop of the year so far.

It’s worth keeping an eye out for regular updates to this article. The list is bound to change from month to month as new laptops with even more efficient batteries hit the market. Will the progress ever stop? We hope not.

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