Why you should stop using Chrome

Written by
  • 7 years ago
  • Posted: July 16, 2014 at 11:25 am

Google’s Internet browser Chrome is receiving negative coverage from yesterday thanks to the discovery that it drains laptop battery power. According to a blog post by Ian Morris of Forbes, Chrome is consuming 25% more power on Windows run laptops making the battery life shorter. Fred, a friend, after reading a similar article from Business Insider, posted on his Facebook:

No wonder my last laptop’s battery died so fast and the replacements never lasted. I switched to Firefox not because I knew about chrome being the problem but because it began to hung. I had to do away with it. Now you know better.

Well I have been using Chrome since I acquired the laptop I’m currently using – it’s my second laptop. I am sure I used Chrome on the first but it got lost faster than the lifespan of a laptop’s battery in use so I didn’t notice its battery lifespan. This laptop on the other hand is 5 years old and it is running on its second battery. The first battery took three years before it went completely dead; which means the second battery is on its second year and by measure of the number of hours it still stays charged, the battery is still as good as new.

That doesn’t seem to be the experience of Ian and Fred, who say they use their laptops throughout the day (and maybe night). Ian explains that the reason Chrome drains the laptop’s battery, and the sole reason you should stop using Chrome, is because of what is referred to as “system clock tick rate”.

System clock tick rate has been defined as the time it takes for the processor to be awaken to look for tasks to do – otherwise the processor stays “asleep”. In Windows this rate has been set at 15.625 milliseconds meaning the processor is waken up 64 times in a second. However, Chrome overrides this rate and sets its own at 1 millisecond thereby waking up the processor a 1000 times a second – about 16 times more than usual for Windows.

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To make sense of the increased number of times Chrome awakens the processor, Ian did an experiment and found that at idle time, his computer uses between 15 and 20 Watts with Chrome running. When he shut Chrome, he got the power consumption to drop to between 12 and 15 Watts.

So what is the solution? I have googled how to change “System clock tick rate” but as a user of Chrome browser there is nothing you can actually do to change the setting. The setting is inherent in the code and exists there as a bug. The only solution for now is for you to stop using Chrome and opt for the user unfriendly Internet Explorer or the memory hungry Firefox. Safari by Apple can also be an option. There are those who use Opera browser too (by the way I have used Opera once and I liked it).

In the meantime, you can help raise the issue with Google by commenting on bug tracker post so that they take note and upgrade Chrome to a battery friendly version.

Although Ian mentioned that the problem with Chrome is mainly a Windows problem and probably a Windows 7 and below problem, a commenter had this to say about Chrome on Mac:

So I don’t know if you’ve used Chrome on Mac before, but I don’t understand how you can say this isn’t an issue on there. Chrome on Mac is far and away the biggest battery drain on my computer. It’s an absolute joke. My battery drops at an exponential rate if I open more than a handful of tabs, and if any of them have anything Flash related, good luck.

I was excited to see this in hopes that someone was aware of the issue and resolving it at Google, or the general public was catching on. More and more tech savvy friends of mine are moving away from Chrome and using Safari or Firefox because it’s become such a drain on performance and battery life on OS X.

What is your opinion on the topic?
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