1. anon(601415)'s Avatar

    I'm on Day 2 of my Surface Pro 4 experience and thought I'd share the findings from my one-time, non-scientific battery study with you all.


    Prior to this SP4, I owned an SP3 i5 8GB 256GB that I purchased shortly after they were released. It wasn't until the third one after returning the first two that I settled on one that didn't have some sort of issue. After the dust settled, I was running Windows 8.1 and getting around 8-9 hours of battery life with it. Then I upgraded to Windows 10 and battery life was reduced to 6-7 hours. I suspect that it was mostly due to the fan, since it was on most of the time when plugged in to the dock, even when I had Chrome closed (and set to not run in the background). On any given day, I use Office products, both locally installed and via Office 365. I also use Photoshop daily (probably average around 2 hours per day) and Illustrator a couple of times per week (at approximately an hour per instance). Beyond that, I'm using an assortment of tools that I use to build websites (primarily WinSCP and Notepad++). I also use Chrome as my daily driver browser, despite knowing that it is considered a battery hog -- I use several Chrome extensions that help me with my work and I simply cannot function properly without them (note also that hardware acceleration is turned off in Chrome settings). Additionally, I have Hitman Pro Alert running in the background. I did make a point to disable auto-startup for unnecessary processes related to Adobe updates, Spotify web helper, etc.

    I decided that many of my problems with the SP3 were due to the fact that I got the first couple from very early batches. The third one was a bit later on and didn't have any troubles (other than the ongoing fan in W10). So this time, I decided to wait until the SP4 had been out in the wild for awhile first, keeping up on the forums here at Windows Central to see what others were experiencing. From what I read, I'm glad I waited until the drivers had been mostly ironed out. Interestingly, I ordered my SP4 and it arrived the same day as the latest drivers were released.

    Before The Study

    The first thing I did after unboxing the SP4 was perform a full reset, based on suggestions from others here in the forums. I had read about issues people were having right out of the box, which had been fixed after they ran a reset. So I didn't waste anytime at all jumping right into that. Besides, what could it hurt? Then I installed all of the software I needed, configured OneDrive for my personal and business accounts, allowed OneDrive to complete syncing, and made sure I had all of the latest updates. I also made sure the battery was fully charged overnight.

    Next, I took more advice from the forums by performing the registry tweak to enable more power options. I then set my SP4 to use the Power Saver plan and configured it as follows:
    • Display brightness: 50%
    • CPU minimum (battery): 50%
    • CPU maximum (battery): 70%

    I also turned off standby wifi and completely disabled hibernation.

    Then I completely shut down the SP4 and left it plugged in while I grabbed a cup of coffee (and drank it) to ensure it would truly be at 100% battery.

    During The Study

    While I conducted the study, I worked. What I mean is, I worked on actual client projects -- I viewed and responded to emails in the Outlook web app, edited some graphics in Photoshop (about 30 minutes), watched a couple of videos (about 2 minutes each), edited some files via FTP, and used Chrome extensively (it was open for the entire study and used most of that time).

    As the day went on, I occasionally checked the battery level by hovering on the battery icon in the taskbar. I was hoping to catch it at 10% intervals, but time got away from me several times. Still, I think I managed to collect a good sampling of unscientific data. With that, here is the data I collected:
    • 09:47 -- Power on
    • 10:31 -- 90% remaining
    • 11:36 -- 70% remaining
    • 13:46 -- 30% remaining
    • 14:03 -- 21% remaining (battery saver auto-activates)
    • 14:43 -- 10% remaining
    • 15:00 -- 6% remaining (battery icon claims 30 minutes left)

    Study Results

    I think it's safe to say that my overall usage, averaged over the entire study period, would be somewhere between low and moderate. That said, you can see that I got 5 hours and 13 minutes out of it. I'd be willing to bet that the biggest overall drain was probably Chrome. If I had used Edge, I'm thinking my numbers would likely have been a bit better.

    This is about what I expected so I'm not really disappointed. Would I like to get more time? Sure. But I was very productive during those 5 hours and I'm rarely away from a power outlet for more than a few hours at a time anyway.

    Not sure if this is helpful for anyone, but I hope so. :-)
    05-27-2016 05:44 PM
  2. Chintan Gohel's Avatar
    I'm thinking some of these suggestions below might help you get a bit more battery life

    A few things you can try out:
    • Check settings >system > battery > which apps are using the most energy?
    • Again, in battery section, which apps can run in the background? Can you disable those you don't need? Keep messaging enabled to run in background
    • In battery section, you can also set up battery saver to kick in when the battery reaches a certain percentage. I keep mine on 100% so it's always on battery saver mode
    • In mail app, how often do you have mails to sync? Generally the longer the time period, the less the battery usage
    • What about brightness settings? Is it on high or auto? Auto is better than a fixed setting (your case you've kept it fixed)
    • If you find that messaging app uses a lot of battery, this could be because it's linked with skype. Go to messaging app, settings and unlink skype
    • In photos app, do you have auto upload of photos enabled?
    • When you use some apps that are not data heavy like whatsapp or mail, you can use a lower network speed like 2G. It's what I do usually. I only use LTE when I have to use 6tag (this is for phone)
    • Since you're using chrome, I'm sure an extension exists where you can disable images on certain websites so they load faster, use less data and hence less battery
    • In settings > privacy - check each of those settings to see which apps can use what. For example I can't understand why Word would need to access location info so I disabled that. There might be apps using services that they are not meant to use
    • Finally, keep wifi/cellular off when you don't need to have them on. The toggles in action centre are pretty fast so it doesn't take much time in switching internet on/off
    • Disable auto update of apps, you only update when you are ready and not when you are in need of critical things
    seremify likes this.
    05-28-2016 01:00 AM
  3. seremify's Avatar
    I've pretty much forced myself to use Edge everywhere now. I don't like it as much as Chrome because I miss my plugins, my 1password extension, and my bookmarks sync, but it does help the limited battery life so I stick to it.
    05-29-2016 09:13 PM
  4. anon(601415)'s Avatar
    I was thinking about installing Redstone so I could start getting used to Edge extensions. But on my old SP3, the preview versions were turning it into a leafblower, so I'm not sure if I want to try it or not.
    05-30-2016 02:22 PM
  5. kristalsoldier's Avatar
    This is very interesting. Like the OP, I delayed my buying the SP4 because my SP3 was (and continues to) functioning well. Yes, there was the fan and the heat issue (i5/4GB/128GB), but more worryingly, I noticed that a yellow band was developing around the left edge of the screen and was spreading. I took the opportunity to pick up a SP4 for myself (i5/8GB/256GB).

    So, two points.

    Firstly, about battery life. My usage is less intense that the OP in the sense that I rarely use or have to use editing apps etc. Given the nature of my work, I am principally in Office (O365), I use OneDrive extensively and I constantly am handling large PDF documents which I also annotate or otherwise work on. I need to monitor news feeds so there are a few of those, I am constantly on mail. Telegram and Whatsapp are also on and active all the time. Occasionally, I do use the Pen (in OneNote, Sticky Notes). Everyday I see videos worth say 1-2 hours. I am generally on a Wifi network and when I am out the SP4 is paired to my phone's data connection. With brightness set to "adaptive" and intensity set to "Suggested", and all apps running in the background, I have noticed that on a typical day, I get about 6-7.5 hours of battery time before the Battery Saver kicks in. I have not heard the fans come on yet (except once when the SP4 was updating itself). I do use Cortana, but I have disabled "Hey Cortana" when the device is locked and I do use the Windows Hello feature which works virtually all the time without a glitch. Compared to the SP3, I am getting approximately one hour less (with both running the latest version of W10AU). In general, I noticed that with W10 - as many have previously reported - the battery-life is slightly less than what it was on W8.1. But still, I think my experience of the SP4 has been good where this is concerned and I am quite sure that MS will further optimize the performance of W10 where battery is concerned.

    That said, the second point...

    Chintan above recommends ways and means to further optimize battery and his pointers are very helpful. Nevertheless, I cannot help but observe that the device - by design - was not meant to be crippled where its core capabilities are concerned in terms of functions - built in and user-added. So, turning off apps in the background while is a necessary tactic when full battery commitment is needed is one thing, but as a matter of course, it is not something that I am in favour of. This is not because of anything else but because I think - maybe wrongly so - that the device (in this case the SP4) was designed to support all these functions. So, turning off some background services/ apps while obviously a helpful thing where battery life is concerned, it is not - at least as I think - as per the original design intent of the device, which is also why I don't turn off anything (well except for Hey Cortana as mentioned above). Of course, I am sure I could get a battery performance if I did.

    To be honest, this does not affect me adversely on the SP4. But...I feel the issue on my phone (950XL). There I often end up doing what Chintan suggested above. But that is because that damn device - as much as I love it - sucks up battery like a fiend! I have not yet faced a similar situation with the SP4 and I hope I don't ever face such a situation.
    08-21-2016 09:52 PM
  6. becosemsaida's Avatar
    Well, this is very interesting BUT we all use our Surface diferent ways. For me it's more for general use, it's an extension of my laptop when i'm out, at home it's my companion to read news and watch some media in bed. Diferent usage for diferent moments. Sure i use a lot of pdf, pen and office apps when i'm out and i used to get about 5H of usage. At home i used to have more but since the AU my Surface is cripled.

    I am the type of person that buys a device (phone/tablet/pc etc. etc) to use, NOT to disable functions to get it to work !!! My smarthone is working with all the features active and my surface has to do the same. Sorry i'm not going to compromise the functions of this device to get 5min more of battery life . This is a fault from Microsoft, they should have included a capable battery for the functions of the device. Same thing goes for the rest of the "smart" devices on a battery. Just my opinion.....

    Still i nice thread, very interesting knowing that you use your wi-fi to connect to the internet (through your phone) and still get get lesser battery life....

    08-22-2016 06:21 AM

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