Life is too short to worry about whether you're going to make it through the day on a single charge
By Nicholas De Leon
There are things you can do to stretch the battery life of a laptop. But if you want it to deliver a full day’s work, you need to start with a model that packs plenty of power.
The LG Gram 14 (2021), for example, can deliver nearly 27 hours of battery life, according to our testers. That’s three full workdays’ worth of juice, with enough left over to stream a few episodes of “Halo” on Paramount+ before bed.
In other words, we’ve come a long way from the days when you had to carry a power cord with you at all times.
Because people depend on their laptops day and night, we test the battery life on every model that enters our labs. And according to Antonette Asedillo, who oversees that testing, the protocol is designed to resemble real-world use.
We start by setting the brightness of the computer’s display to 200 nits, a level that works indoors and out. Then, with the battery fully charged, we cycle the laptop through a series of 10 web pages, downloading them continuously until the laptop shuts down.
The web pages are stored on a server in our lab and transmitted over a WiFi network set up specifically for this purpose. We use the laptop’s default web browser, rather than a third-party browser, to be more representative of how everyday consumers work.
In a second test, we play 4K video (locally stored, not streamed over the internet, because using WiFi can deplete the battery even faster) until the power is fully drained.
“It’s a good way to gauge how well a battery will hold up during heavier workloads,” Asedillo says.
While your actual battery life will vary depending on what you’re doing, what’s important is that we test each laptop the same exact way so you can compare models with confidence.
The following list (available to CR members) highlights the laptops that delivered great battery life in our testing, broken down by size. In some cases, we list a few different options, either because their battery life is very similar or because they’re available at different prices.
LG Gram 17 (2021)
The LG Gram consistently scores well in our tests, but this year’s model is the best we’ve seen. The notebook logged 18 hours in our web browsing test and close to 10 hours in our 4K video trial. Not bad.
The Gram is powerful, too. The model we tested was equipped with an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of memory, and 256GB of solid-state storage. As our results indicate, this is more than sufficient for routine productivity tasks and video calls. This is not a gaming laptop, though, so there’s no dedicated video card.
If you’re on the hunt for a good deal, you might consider the 2020 LG Gram, which is still available for purchase online. It’s similarly powerful, has a battery that lasts only about an hour less, and is priced a few hundred dollars cheaper.
Dell XPS 15 (2021)
This high-end notebook is designed for demanding users. It delivered a little more than 18 hours of battery life in our web browsing test and roughly 8 hours in our 4K video playback test.
Yes, there’s a big disparity there, but it’s in line with other Windows laptops featured here. And it helps illustrate how much more demanding playing high-res video can be on a laptop than scrolling through Twitter or uploading photos to Facebook.
Our model is equipped with an Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of memory, and 512GB of solid-state storage. It even has a dedicated Nvidia graphics card, opening up the ability to play demanding games.
You might also consider the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360, which costs a few hundred dollars less than the XPS. While it doesn’t have a dedicated graphics card, it’s still mighty powerful with an Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of memory, and 1 terabyte of solid-state storage. The battery lasted some 16 hours in our web browsing test and 12 hours in our video playback test.
Acer Swift 3 SF314-511-75UX
You might do a double-take upon seeing the battery test results of this Acer notebook, which has an Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of memory, and 512GB of solid-state storage. Why? Because the model clocked in at more than 27 hours in our web browsing test and more than 11 hours in our video test. Not too shabby.
We’d also recommend the Asus ZenBook Duo. Other laptops in this size have comparable battery life (the LG Gram, for one), but the Duo has a unique second screen just above the keyboard, where you can place apps like Slack, Teams, or Spotify for easy reach without crowding up the main display. The model’s battery lasted a bit more than 21 hours in our web test and 12 hours in our video test.
Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 (13-inch)
This 2-in-1 convertible from Samsung is another good all-rounder. It has an Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of memory, and 512GB of solid-state storage. You’re looking at a battery that lasts a bit more than 20 hours in our web browsing test and nearly 12 hours in our 4K video test. Given the small size (13.3 inches), this option could be a very good choice if you’re looking for good portability coupled with strong battery life.
The HP Envy is another strong pick. It offers double the storage for roughly the same price, but it’s a traditional notebook rather than a convertible, so you can’t fold the screen flat behind the keyboard and use the device as a tablet. The battery lasts nearly 19 hours in our web browsing test and 7.5 hours in our 4K video test.
HP Stream 11-AK0012DX
There aren’t many laptops in the 10-to-11-inch category, and, well, they’re all somewhat underpowered, generally packing slower processors and limited storage space. Still, this HP model is a decent choice if you’re looking to maximize battery life. It’s got an Intel Celeron processor, 4GB of memory, and 64GB of solid-state storage. Nothing special, but the battery lasts 15 hours in our web browsing tests and nearly 9 hours in our video tests.
Stepping up to a Microsoft Surface Go 3 gets you better performance but a little less battery life (14 hours in our web tests and a bit more than 6 in our video tests).
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