SSDs may increase battery life

July 7, 2008 | 10:06

Tags: #battery-life #hard-drives #laptop #notebook #power-usage #ssd

Companies: #laptop-magazine #toms-hardware

If you read the recent article over on Tom's Hardware revealing that solid-state storage devices can actually reduce your battery life, then you'll probably want to read Laptop Magazine's take on the whole thing before ditching your SSD plans altogether.

Back in June Tom's Hardware contributors Patrick Schmid and Achim Roos ran a group test of SSDs against traditional mechanical hard disks, and came to a surprising conclusion – due to the higher idle power usage, SSDs can actually reduce battery life when compared to traditional mechanical drives. Under first-page heading entitled “Could Tom's Hardware be Wrong?” the two researchers state that “our results are definitely correct.”

Before you start sounding the death knell for the SSD industry, however, another publication has a different take on the matter. Laptop Magazine has performed its own testing, and the results are pretty much the opposite of what Tom's Hardware found. Testing two SSDs – A Sandisk SATA 5000 32GB and a Samsung SATA II 64GB – against a Western Digital Scorpio Blue 250GB 2.5” mechanical drive, the team found that battery life with WiFi enabled was increased by ten minutes on both SSD models compared to the WD drive.

There are several possibilities for why this test came out so differently to the one performed by Tom's Hardware. First is the methodology: Laptop Magazine used “a simple Windows shell script that cycles through a series of 60 popular Web sites, loading each page and then pausing for thirty seconds to simulate a user reading the page.” Tom's Hardware, on the other hand, used the popular Mobile Mark – a test that harkens back to the days of mechanical hard drives, and may not properly simulate 'real world' usage compared to the web-browsing test. In fact, Laptop Magazine goes as far as suggesting that the higher-performance SSDs in Tom's tests – which got figures suggesting they might drop battery life by as much as an hour compared to traditional mechanical drives – were “penalized [sic] by Mobile Mark because they managed to do more work.

While a ten-minute increase in battery life isn't quite the miracle that laptop users were hoping for, it's always worth remembering that we are currently comparing traditional drives that have had decades of refinements made to their power usage to brand-new SSDs that aren't as far along the sophistication curve. If the gap between the two is as close as ten minutes – in either direction – then it certainly gives me hope that my future laptop might last for an entire working day between charges.

Which methodology do you think was most sound – Tom's Hardware or Laptop Magazine? Do you think Tom's was convinced by traditional drive manufacturers to paint SSDs in a bad light, or has Laptop Magazine been nobbled by SSD makers with a lot to lose? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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