Windows 7 beats Ubuntu 10.04 on battery life

Us geeks rejoiced when the latest and greatest Ubuntu version, 10.04 was released. It has a new look and feel, faster boot times, and it’s more cloud-centric than ever, and, well, it’s great. But you know, Windows actually beats Ubuntu for once.

You see, Phoronix has tested Ubuntu 10.04 against Windows 7, and they found out that it’s a power hog compared to Microsoft’s operating system.

From Liliputing:

Out of the box, Ubuntu 10.04 used 56% more power than Windows 7 Professional. At least that’s what happened when running the tests on an Asus Eee PC 1201N, which is a 12.1 inch notebook with a dual core Atom 330 processor and NVIDIA IOn graphics. It’s a fairly power hungry computer by netbook standards under the best of circumstances. Throwing Ubuntu 10.04 on the notebook looks like it could seriously impact battery life.

Phoronix also tested a Lenovo thinkPad T61 15.4 inch laptop with n Intel Core 2 Duo T9300 processor, and found that while Windows 7 still used less power than Ubuntu 10.04, the difference dropped to 14%.

I don’t have Ubuntu 10.04 to test their findings myself. Okay, I find it surprising that Ubuntu now is the power hog compared to Windows. To be quite honest, this is kind of disappointing. A 56% difference out of the box is a huge number. Even if after tweaks, the difference dropped to 14%, it’s still a big deal for me, especially if I run it on an Eee PC, where every bit of battery life is precious. Give me something like 5% out of the box and I’d be sold.

What do you think? Do you have first-hand experience on Ubuntu’s power management capabilities versus Windows’s? Tell me about it in the comments!



  1. mike says

    its not because ubuntu is less efficient. it’s because the windows install comes with power management software specifically designed for the hardware it’s installed on. If you wiped it and put a fresh copy of windows without that proprietary power management software, I doubt it would still be a significant difference.

  2. says

    I guess the point is that windows runs for longer, regardless. Bringing drivers into the equation is just pointing out a strong point of windows. As for me my m1330 has been running hot as hell since i put 10.04 on and this is seen in my battery life taking a major hit. I hate to say it but i might be using windows a little more until this issue can be fixed.

  3. Max says

    Just a note from personal experience, though not with ubuntu 10.04 but with linux mint 8,which is based on ubuntu 9.10. In mint the estimated battery time was 3 hours on my T91MT, then i installed eee-control with the powersave features, and the estimation jumped up to little under 5 hours, so dedicated software makes a big difference just like mike says.

    …But in windows 7 and a newly installed battery bar i get estimation of 6 hours.

  4. noss says

    a few months ago, i installed a fresh copy of win7 pro to my dell xps m1330, along with a ram upgrade and hdd upgrade to a wd 7200rpm black edition. i entirely expected battery life to be shorter, but win7’s power management is awesome! i went from 2.5hrs battery life on the 6 cell in vista to 3hrs 55mins in win7 x64 with more ram and more power hungry hdd.

    i am also running a dual boot with ubuntu 10.04 32bit, and the battery life starts out at around 3hrs on the power meter, but the battery drops very quickly, power usage seems to be on par with vista at around the 2.5hr mark.

    i’ve just ordered a 9 cell battery for the laptop and was expecting to get close to 5hrs with win7, maybe a touch more, with ubuntu, i don’t really know. the poor power management is the only thing i’m disappointed with so far, but to be honest, its a big thing!

  5. noss says

    oh, btw, what i was more trying to point out in my post above was both my win7 and ubuntu installs are fresh installs, no additional power management software in either operating system, just the standard power saving settings.

    as much as people don’t like to believe it, win7 has indeed come up with the goods power management wise.

  6. says

    Ubuntu is one of the most bogged down distros out there as of late.. an average of 200-400 wakeups per 10 seconds, versus most other distros sitting at 10-70. Plus the fact that ubuntu has a lot of services not even needed on a laptop that adds to the weight of the distro, and hdd access (hdd almost never sleeps or spins down)

    Truly, ubuntu needs an overhaul, or a “light” edition, with all the fluff taken out. It’s a nice user friendly distro, but it’s way too heavy.

  7. Michael says

    I know this is a bit old but i found it in a google search.

    “its not because ubuntu is less efficient. it’s because the windows install comes with power management software specifically designed for the hardware it’s installed on. If you wiped it and put a fresh copy of windows without that proprietary power management software, I doubt it would still be a significant difference.”

    WRONG, i have yet to see a notebook with any special battery saving programs. Its all windows.

    I personally noticed a MASSIVE difference with my netbook going to linux i lost about 2.5 hours after tweaking i managed to get it to about an hour lost but laptop-mode-tools thrashes the crap out of my HDD and is known to do so yet nobody fixes it.

    The other rumor is that ubuntu is somehow to blame, i can promise any of you spreading that baseless rumor that its complete nonsense. I have tested every major distro and can tell you with no doubt that its better than 95% out there in terms of power management.

  8. M @ says

    The problem is that Ubuntu’s ability to conserve power is directly related to how much it knows about its underlying hardware. Since there are no linux ACPI drivers for most laptops, windows has an advantage in power optimization. We just need a clever programmer to write those drivers and we’d have a fair competition.

  9. says

    i always wanted to buy a Linux laptop just to know what the fuss was about. looked up a Youtube video & i was impressed. too bad i dont know where to buy a Linux/Ubuntu laptop/netbook. Also i dont know how to install it ona windows 7 laptop and not f*ck it up. i hope this is a sign of great things to come for Ubuntu.

  10. Giovanni says

    Hi guys! I am an quite new to ubuntu but I have previous experience with debian freebsd and suse. I do have an EEEpc (indeed, this is the reason how I found this post, looking for ubuntu battery problems). It is disappointing and odd, why more people are not discussing this issue. When I use command cat on the battery I read my battery has mHA 2000 when full charged while I am sure that windows charges my battery fully (4000 mHA). So there is an easy explanation: I cant find on internet any blog or post about how to make ubuntu charge my battery fully… but when I use windows battery charges fully. This is not the only issue: kernel of linux seems to use much more my cpu, the fan is always working heavily. but there is also a problem with my battery (which had never ever had a prblem whatsoever while using windows and literally overnight after installing ubutu presented me with the problem). I dont want to talk about conspiracies but… it would nt sound strange to me that someone in the high spheres had made a deal with amd, intel and the major computer manufacturer, so to introduce some little bug on the bios (laptop hardware). afterall microsoft is the biggest monopolistic company in the world…

  11. Florin says

    I did not check to see if linux charges the battery full, but the lack of drivers is a big part of this.
    IT’s very hard to find a laptop with linux that has it’s fan working normally.. most fans run at 100% or 0%, consuming extra power, unllike windows,where the fan runs slower if temperature is not that high.

    Also GPU drivers are not that good.

  12. Tony says

    Actually, there is a very simple command that you need to add to your grub.conf (or grub.cfg) file:

    GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT=”quiet splash pcie_aspm=force i915.i915_enable_rc6=1″

    By doing so, I increased my 9-cell Thinkpad’s life on Ubuntu from 5 to 8 hours, which is on par with Windows. One would wonder why Ubuntu didn’t come with this setting enabled.

  13. Rolfen says

    I think it’s mostly due to drivers… and the system itself also seems to be getting very complex; on Ubuntu, by default, you’ll find tens and tens of processes running…
    Also, it seems that most software is better optimized to run on Windows then Linux.


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