Getting the Most Battery Life for Your Buck
How long a laptop lasts on its internal battery is one of the most important considerations for PC shoppers. Business travelers and students especially are at the mercy of their computer's remaining juice, since conference rooms, airplanes, and classrooms often have woefully short supplies of power outlets.
Just a few years ago, it wasz necessary to buy and charge an external battery pack to get long battery life. But ultraportables, many with sealed-shut chassis, have now saturated the laptop market, and luckily many of them are even better away from an outlet than the best laptops that still include swappable batteries. In fact, the Lenovo ThinkPad T470 is the only swappable model on our list, and it's far from the longest-lasting.
Recent improvements in laptop battery life are thanks as much to more power-effecient CPUs and other components as they are to new battery technology. That's especially true for Intel's eighth-generation Core processors, one of which powers the longest-lasting model on our list, the Lenovo Yoga 920.
A laptop that can last for more than eight hours without a trip to a power plug should be enough to get you through a day's work, but that's not good enough to make it to the upper echelon. Each of the laptops, 2-in-1s, and Windows tablets we've selected lasts for more than 13 hours, which means that they can survive a full day at the office and still offer plenty of juice for watching videos on the couch.
In addition to being a critical specification, battery life is also one of the toughest to measure. If you're watching movies all day long, you'll get far more unplugged time than someone who's editing images in Photoshop. We test battery life based on the scenario of watching movies stored locally at 50 percent screen brightness and with Airplane mode turned on. If you're frequently performing more CPU-intensive tasks, you'll want to shave an hour or two off of our results.
Know Your Form Factor
Our top 10 list is stacked with traditional laptops and convertible designs with 360-degree display hinges. Detachable Windows tablets are underrepresented, and for good reason: There's simply no room for a large battery in such a small enclosure. One notable exception is the Microsoft Surface Book 2, which includes two seperate batteries, one in the tablet and one in the keyboard base. Together, they eke out an impressive 17 hours of battery life, but you'll get far less than that if you're using the tablet by itself.
Of course, no matter what kind of laptop you're in the market for, you can always add a few minutes or a few hours to your unplugged time by changing your computing habits. It's a bit like driving more conservatively to save gas. For some ideas, take a look at our tips for improving your laptop's battery life.
Want the Best Battery? Consider a Mac
Apple's MacBook and MacBook Pro lineups have a reputation for excellent battery life, and Cupertino's current offering is no exception. All of the portable Macs we tested can manage more than 15 hours away from an outlet, from the 15-inch MacBook Pro to the aging-but-still-popular MacBook Air. Which one you should choose depends on your preferences (we don't recommend the Touch Bar, for instance), but you can't go wrong on the battery life front with any Apple ultraportable. And remember, Macs run Windows too.
Other manufacturers are more hit-and-miss. While top battery life honors go to the Yoga 920, Lenovo also sells several less-expensive models that die much quicker.
If you have a long plane flight, conference, or final exam period ahead of you, or if you're just too busy to stop around a power outlet for long enough, any of these laptops will keep you productive throughout the day and into the evening. For a look at the wider portable landscape, check out our latest laptop reviews, as well as our top business and budget laptops.
Bottom Line: The XPS 13, Dell's venerable ultraportable with the bezel-free screen, gets Intel's new quad-core CPU, with electrifying results in both speed and battery life.
Bottom Line: The Lenovo ThinkPad T470 exemplifies the mainstream business laptop, with a no-nonsense body, manageable weight, excellent keyboard, dual pointing devices, and long battery life.
Real Life. Real News. Real Voices
Help us tell more of the stories that matterBecome a founding member
Bottom Line: With a top-notch design and build, the Lenovo Yoga 920 is an excellent convertible laptop that delivers long battery life and speedy performance thanks to its 8th-generation Core i7 CPU.
Bottom Line: The base model MacBook Pro gets an updated processor and a price drop, making it the best choice for Mac shoppers who want a blend of power and relative affordability.
Bottom Line: Despite its flashy exterior, the HP EliteBook x360 2-in-1 laptop is all business inside, with an Intel Core i7 processor, 14-hour battery life, and a comprehensive set of security features.
Bottom Line: The Surface Book 2 is a feat of design, a top-of-the-line premium convertible 2-in-1 laptop that's fast, long lasting, versatile, and portable. It's even up for gaming.
Bottom Line: Despite its bland looks, the Dell Precision 3520's excellent battery life will appeal to road warriors, and IT managers will like its upgradeability.
Bottom Line: Microsoft's Surface Laptop with Windows 10 S is aimed at students looking for a sleek alternative to the aging Apple MacBook Air. It's stylish and powerful, but you'll want to nab the free W…
Bottom Line: The ever-slim Apple MacBook gets a faster processor and remains a battery life champ, but a persistent dearth of connectivity ports makes it unappealing compared with the similarly priced Ma…
Bottom Line: The Samsung Notebook 9 Pro has a nice price compared with competitors, but a 15-inch 2-in-1 with a multimode hinge isn't as easy to grasp as smaller alternatives.
Subscribe to the newsletter news
We hate SPAM and promise to keep your email address safe