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Laptop Battery Life Tips & Buying Guide

Purchasing advice and laptop battery life tips to maximize laptop battery life.


Recommended:
  • Primary battery with max cells
  • Additional spare battery
Minimum:
  • Primary battery with max cells

laptop battery picture

Laptop Batteries 101

In today's mobile world getting the most out of your laptop battery is an important factor to consider. After all you will need power to spare when on the go if you want to use your shiny new 17-inch screen and other cool features, right?

Despite the vast improvements in battery technology we are still not quite where the true mobile road warrior would like the industry to be, but we are getting closer. Thanks to advanced power management features in today's Intel and AMD processors and current Lithium Ion battery technology it is not unheard of to see laptops claim 5 hours or more of runtime.

Do take note that the manufacture claimed battery life is not exactly what you will receive out of your notebook due to a number of real world factors. For example operating a DVD drive will drain your laptop much faster than if you were strictly word processing.

Regardless of your usage at least you can be thankful that today's laptops have substantially longer run times than in the past. Also there are various tips & tricks that allow you to maximize laptop battery life performance even further. You will find our tips here. Laptop Battery Tips & Tricks


Top Things to Consider - Cells and Weight

When shopping for a notebook you will often see manufacturers list the amount of cells contained within a laptop battery such as 6-cells and 9-cells. 

A 9-cell battery for example has fifty percent more capacity over a 6-cell, but do keep in mind that more cells also increase the batteries physical weight.

Despite this weight gain, we do recommend all you true on the go users purchase a battery with maximum cells offered by your specific laptop. 

This will insure that you achieve ultimate battery life without a recharge. Running out of battery juice before you are ready isn't exactly a fun experience.


Recommendations

Definitely purchase a battery with maximum cells if weight isn't an issue. In our opinion the negligible weight increase is worth it. After all a laptop is about mobility and without the laptop battery life to back it, you might as well leave it at home, right? Purchasing a second battery is another great idea if you want spare juice for times of need.


22 Laptop Battery Life Saving Tips & Tricks
A collection of laptop battery life savings tips.
  1. Dimming your laptop screen is one of the best and easiest ways to increase your laptop batteries run time.
  2. Turn off your Wi-Fi wireless and Bluetooth if not needed.  Most laptops have shortcut keys or even a physical switch to quickly disable wireless networking. This is a another great quick way to increase battery run time.
  3. Tweak your computers power options.  We like to choose a laptop power scheme that turns off the notebook monitor and hard disk after ten minutes or less of inactivity.
  4. Decrease your laptops speaker volume or even mute it all together if not in use. This is a quick way to gain a little extra juice.
  5. Disabling various scheduled tasks that you may have running in the background can conserve CPU cycles and thus increase battery run time.
  6. Don't play computer games, music CD's or DVD movies for multimedia activities drain laptop batteries quicker than ever. Save these activities to when your laptop is plugged in.
  7. Disconnect external devices such as PC ad-in cards, USB devices and even optical drives. Also use the laptops touchpad instead of an external USB mouse. 
  8. Turning off various auto-save features in your applications such as Microsoft Office can conserve some CPU cycles and additionally minimize hard drive usage to increase battery run time.
  9. If possible run programs off the internal hard drive instead of your laptops CD/DVD drive for it typically consumes less power.  Copying programs or music even from the optical disk to the internal hard drive is a quick way to increase battery life.
  10. If your laptop is not going to be used for an extended period of time such as a week or more remove the battery from the laptop and store it by itself. 
  11. If your laptop is very old it may have a nickel-metal hydride battery.  If this is the case completely drain and recharge the battery once a month to maximize its capacity to hold a charge. 
  12. Limit the exposure of your laptop battery to extremely high or low temperatures. Like humans batteries also have a comfortable operating temperature.
  13. Fully charge and discharge a new laptop battery pack before use especially if the battery pack is the older style nickel-metal hydride type battery. 
  14. If your laptop is always plugged into a wall outlet or docking station it is better to run the laptop without the battery installed for it is not necessary to leave the battery in a constant state of charging.   Better to save your battery for when you need it, such as when you are actually mobile. 
  15. Defragging your computer before you go mobile can increase your laptop battery life run time.  Your hard drive will operate more efficiently, thus reducing battery demands.  Just make sure you don't defrag when you are running on the battery.
  16. Unplugging external devices such as an Ipod, cell phone, mouse, etc. will increase battery run time.
  17. Upgrading your systems memory can in some cases increase laptop battery life run time.  If your laptop is constantly running out of physical (RAM) memory it will have to utilize the swap file which resides on the hard disk.  If your system is running efficiently however (i.e. you do not receive virtual memory notifications) with the amount of memory you currently have, then increasing the memory in this case may actually reduce battery life since each memory module requires electricity to run. 
  18. Limit your usage of the CD/DVD drive for optical drives consume a ton of laptop battery life.  If possible copy your music tracks or even movies to your local hard drive.  We like to turn our disks into ISO/Virtual disk files and run them using a virtual drive emulator such as Daemon Tools.
  19. Use hibernate over standby, standby still puts drain on your laptop's battery where hibernate puts your computer into an off state.   
  20. Make sure your laptop running cool for they operate more efficiently when running at a comfortable operating temperature.  If your laptop is used often and there is noticeable dust build up in the laptops vents, you should from time to time clean your laptop out with compressed air. Another great way to keep your laptop cool, especially in hot environments, is to use a cooler podium such as the Cooler master cool pad.
  21. Tweak your Power Options.  Set your screen and hard drive to go off after a few minutes, and additionally make sure your system is set to go into standby and/or hibernate.  If you don't mind a potential performance hit, setting your laptop to run in "max battery" mode will run your laptops processors at its minimum operating frequency giving you a nice increase in run time. 
  22. Limit heavy tasks such as gaming or other CPU intensive tasks like encoding music or videos.  Also try if possible to simply limit your multitasking by working with one program at a time. Additionally keep to basic activities such as email and word processing for they consume little CPU cycles to run thus putting less drain on your laptops battery.

Utilize  laptop battery saving power options such as Standby and Hibernate. 

Standby:  Standby puts your computer into a low power state by storing all your open applications in memory.  Standby turns off your monitor and hard drive, both heavy consumers of battery juice. Waking your computer from standby is quick, and your desktop will be restored just the way it was before you put your system into standby.

Hibernate:  Hibernate is similar to standby in that it allows you to quickly resume your windows session by restoring your desktop to how it was before put into hibernation.  It differs however from standby because everything is saved to your hard disk instead of memory and thus no power is necessary with hibernation. 



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