Want Your Mac's Battery To Hate Your Guts? Just Run Windows

With the arrival of Boot Camp, installing Windows on a Mac became a straightforward process. Say what you will about premiums on Apple's hardware, in the last few years MacBooks have consistently delivered quality components, so much so that buying one for the express purpose of running Microsoft's OS is not uncommon. But does this seemingly simple switch in operating systems come at a price?

ZDNet's Ed Bott gathered battery test data for the past year from Engadget's reviews of MacBooks and ultrabooks to determine if Windows on Mac drained the device's battery faster than an equivalent machine running OS X, as well as the boatload of Windows ultrabooks it now competes with. Bott states that Endgadget's tests are consistent enough that finding an answer to this question is very possible.

Bott's chart, created using Engadget's results, can be seen to the right (click to expand).

The 2012 Macbook Air running OS X is in the top four, while the same model with Windows installed drops over 120 minutes of battery life. That's a fair chunk of time.

So who's fault is it for the lost battery life? You could point a finger at Apple for not optimising its Windows drivers. Or you could pin Microsoft to the wall for not taking into consideration that its OS can now be installed on Mac hardware.

While the former is the more credible scenario, I feel both are long bows to draw, given Apple provides users with a perfectly good operating system in OS X. I also don't think you can blame Apple for weakened battery life when you run a competing OS on its hardware, but considering Boot Camp is an official product, it does have some responsibility to support it as best as it can.




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    Conversely, running OS X on a standard PC, I measure close to 70W extra power draw at the power point than with Windows 7. They're about equal running at peak usage, although Windows is a touch higher when I use CUDA with Premiere Pro to render video, but the graphics card sucks a lot more juice then.

    Overall I think it's more a case of OS X drivers being hyper-optimized for a very small set of hardware components, that Apple has control over. With other hardware OS X is no where near as efficient. Windows seems to take more of a close enough is good enough approach, but with far wider coverage. I'm sure Windows could squeeze another hour or two of battery life out of pretty much any laptop with even further driver development, provided that every laptop was exactly identical.

    It's just two different approaches to the same problem, for two completely different audiences.

      How did you manage to run OSX on a standard PC? I've tried following instructions online and none of them have worked. I build home PCs from components for a hobby. And I also use a 15" MBP.

        I followed the guides over at tonymacx86 and have been running a hackintosh for about 6 months now without a hitch. I, too, am curious as to the benefits of running only Windows on a Mac machine. I believe CBA issue their employees with Macbook Airs running Windows so I'd like to know why they chose Airs over any other comparable top-of-the-line Windows laptop.

          The story with CBA is hilarious. They did a staff survey to see what they could do to keep staff happy. An overwhelming portion said "We want Macs", however OSX does not play nice with CBA's secure network infrastructure. So they gave them all Macs but put Windows on them for security purposes.

    I've never understood this whole thing about buying a Mac and installing Windows on it. Maybe if you had a dual boot, but to have Windows as the only OS on a Mac just seems silly to me. You're paying a premium for the hardware. You could buy regular PC components or have a custom built laptop of identical quality for a lot less and install Windows on that instead.

    IMO, if you buy a Mac, you run Mac OS. If you don't want to run Mac OS, don't buy a Mac. Works out a lot cheaper.

      The reason would be if you had to use windows specific software. I know - sounds like a dinosaurian proposition? Still exists. I use my 15" MBP for research work, but the only piece of software which is not available on the OSX platform I have to have installed on Bootcamp (which I'm running windows 8 candidate release). I can't even virtualise the installation since it's a firewire connection (I also use VMWare for other reasons) - I use bootcamp to run Nikon's NIS-Elements to capture digital micrography from a bright field microscopic setup.

        I agree with the sentiment when it comes to towers, which stay in one spot and don't offer any input/output methods themselves. But when it comes to laptops, the experience of a Macbook, even when running Windows, is superior to the experience of any similarly priced Windows laptop.

        The Aluminium unibody build is incredibly strong, the LED backlit screens are bright, the trackpad is smooth and easy to use and the overall size and shape are pleasing.

        Some PC Laptops offer superior experience in these areas, but they're generally more costly than a similarly specced Macbook Air or Macbook Pro.

        People who compare the cost of PCs to Macs and say Macs come out on the bottom only ever compare specs. (Once again, mostly said of their laptop range, not their desktop range, the Mac Pro is an overpriced monster).

        So why not just use a PC? There are plenty of high-spec PC laptops that will run rings around a MacBook Pro for similar money.

      When I purchased my Macbook it was the only 13" notebook out (aside from some stupidly expensive Sony Vaio's).

      So at the time, if you wanted a 13" notebook, you only had 1 option.

    The focus on a lab top is wrong. I have an iMac - so no batterie life to watch - on which I run OS x and Bootcamp Windows. I have quite a few programs running on windows only which I do not want to miss as "rule the rail" or " Emperor-rising of the middle kingdom" (for which I need 32bit!). I am extremely happy about this solution. Besides on my iMac (leopard/windows XP) the latter runs better as on the PC's I have experienced it. For example defragmenting is only one run and not up to ten....

    "Apple provides users with a perfectly good operating system in OS X". Which would be great if all you needed on your computer was an operating system but most of us have applications we need to run and, for example, OS X doesn't support the tools that constitute around three-quarters of my computer use.

    Another good reason I'll never be purchasing a Macbook again.

    It's not just the battery life that's hurt by Apple's woeful drivers. The trackpad under Windows (unless you use a certain third-party driver for it) is pathetic, and that's entirely down to Apple's appalling drivers.

    You know, it's almost as if Apple deliberately makes shitty drivers, in a desperate attempt to prove that OS X is better than Windows. Which it isn't.

    I have had this experience while trying to run windows via bootcamp on my 15" macbook pro. When running Windows it's run time on battery decreases by about 3 hours. I agree with Alex, I think it's largely due to driver issues.

    I'm sorry, but how is this news? If you've ever run Boot Camp on a Macbook and had an OSX partition and a Windows partition you'll have known from day 1 that your battery dies so much faster on Windows. In my personal experience the Win XP partition of my old Macbook Pro drained the battery about 4 or 5 times faster than the OSX partition did.

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