Chrome's been eating your laptop's battery for years, but Google promises to fix it

Google is just now responding to a bug in Chrome for Windows that may have been sapping users' batteries for years.

Chrome's battery drain problem was brought to wider attention by Forbes contributor Ian Morris, who noticed that Chrome for Windows was using considerably more power than other browsers.

The issue, he wrote, is that Chrome doesn't return the system's processor to an idle state when it's not doing anything. Instead, Chrome sets a high “system clock tick rate” of 1 millisecond, and leaves it at that rate, even if the browser's just running the background.

By comparison, Microsoft's Internet Explorer only ramps up the tick rate for processor-intensive tasks such as YouTube, and otherwise returns it to the default rate of 15.625 milliseconds. According to Microsoft, setting the tick rate consistently at 1 millisecond can raise power consumption by up to 25 percent depending on your hardware configuration.

This bug wouldn't be too surprising if it was introduced in a recent update. But according to Morris, the first report of it popped up in 2010, and a more recent bug report in Chromium has been racking up new comments since November 2012. So if your Windows laptop isn't getting the battery life you'd expected, it's possible that Chrome is the culprit.

In any case, the new reports have finally gotten Google's attention. In a statement to PCWorld, the company noted that the bug has been assigned internally, and that the Chrome team is working to fix it—though only after Morris shined a spotlight on the issue. The long-standing bug report has been bumped up to priority one.

In the meantime, consider shutting down Chrome when you're not using it on your laptop, or trying out a different browser.

Subscribe to the Windows Tips & Trends Newsletter

Comments