Battery Life

For battery life testing, we run all laptops at around 100 nits brightness. If you choose to run your LCD at maximum brightness, you may lose anywhere from 10 to 60 minutes depending on the laptop and the display. In the case of the Studio XPS 16, maximum brightness is 280 nits and uses 9W more power, so the impact on battery life is quite significant (see the idle chart below for reference).

We run several different battery life scenarios: Internet surfing (load several webpages using the wireless adapter every minute until the battery dies), DVD playback, x264 playback, and idle (maximum) battery life. For x264 playback, we copy a 720p file to the hard drive and loop playback using Windows Media Player Classic Home Cinema; we will include scores from other laptops, but it's worth noting that we did not have GPU accelerated x264 decoding enabled in previous laptop tests. We have battery life results for Blu-ray playback on laptops that ship to us with a Blu-ray drive. We've also included web surfing results (and DVD for the MacBook Pro) for the latest Apple MacBooks as a point of reference.

Battery Life

Battery Life

Battery Life

Battery Life

Battery Life - Idle

Battery life is nothing special, particularly when compared with similarly equipped notebooks. Purchasing the extended capacity battery does allow you to reach over three hours of battery life, but the same can be said of other notebooks. You can also see what happens if you turn up the display brightness. At maximum brightness sitting at the desktop, you only get 108 minutes of battery life. Perhaps that's just the price we have to pay for the beautiful LCD.

As we've mentioned in the past, Apple's MacBook and MacBook Pro provide an almost untouchable amount of battery life. To give you a true apples-to-Apples comparison, we've calculated the amount of battery life you get per Whr (Watt Hour) of battery capacity:

Battery Life

We can only hope that Windows 7 will help improve the battery life situation and level the playing field. However, we also suspect that the hardware manufacturers could be doing a lot more to improve battery life on their laptops. The closest we have come to matching the Minutes/Whr score of the MacBooks was with an ASUS N10JC netbook, which isn't even on the same continent in terms of performance. Apple is getting over six minutes per Whr, and most similarly equipped Vista notebooks are luck to come close to 3 min/Whr. Note that testing a MacBook with Vista using Boot Camp also cut the Apple battery life roughly in half.

General Application Performance Power, Noise, and Temperatures
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  • MadBoris - Monday, April 06, 2009 - link

    So with this review getting the juices flowing, and the aformentioned sale coming tomorrow I started reminding myself why I want this Lappy.

    Here is a rundown on why I decided on this lappy as my next lappy purchase, in no particular order:

    * 64 Bit OS standard, everything works w/ 64 bit.
    * 1920x1080 with RGBLED in a 16" screen.
    * Blu Ray drive option, 1080p natively supported.
    * 2.1 speakers with built in subwoofer, impressive for a laptop.
    * Sturdy construction, no flex in chassis or keyboard.
    * CPU using 1066 FSB rather than 800.
    * 4GB DD3
    * Firewire port
    * Full digital HDMI
    * Display port
    * eSata port
    * 3 powered USB's(optionally powered when PC is off).
    * Backlit keyboard with good key orientation, size and sensitivity.
    * Synaptics touchpad, nicely textured, with multitouch support.
    * 500 GB 7200 RPM drive or great 256GB SSD upgrade.
    * Webcam built in for video conferencing.
    * Facial recognition software for security, it's a cool tech toy atleast.
    * Included Lojack for a year, at least used to be offered.

    All for a good price IMO.

    The only big drawbacks:
    * While beautiful black obsidian and leather, it's a finger print magnet.
    * Gets hot when it's being stressed hard, even to the touch below the touchpad.
    * 3670 GPU not a ATI 4xxx. But if it had more GPU there would be no reason to get any of Dells XPS laptops for gaming. I have a gaming machine, I don't do laptop gaming.
    * Battery 6 cell life is under 2 hours. But getting a seperate 9 cell for $80 fixes that issue.
    * Viewing angles on TN panel, but it's a lappy like others.
    * Built in TV tuner not available in USA, :sad:.

    None of those drawbacks are showstoppers for me, all of the positive features it comes with make up for it easily.
    Reply
  • MadBoris - Monday, April 06, 2009 - link

    Sales have not been seen on this laptop since a couple days back but...

    Just a heads up, a new 2 day sale on the XPS 16 starts tomorrow. Who knows, this may be the one that has me pull the trigger.

    Specifics unknown, but I imagine it will be like the $363 off from the other day.

    Starts 6AM, April 7th.

    http://www.dell.com/xpsevent">http://www.dell.com/xpsevent
    Reply
  • charleski - Monday, April 06, 2009 - link

    Nice gamut, but a TN panel means the gamma of the display will visibly vary with viewing angle. This makes is unsuitable for serious photo editing or any application that requires accurate colours and tones unless you take pains to maintain a consistent view angle. Still, probably no worse than a MacBook Pro.

    Since a high-gamut display is really only of any use to people running colour-managed applications, the large gamut is actually a disadvantage to those who just want to run apps, and movies may appear to be over-saturated.
    Reply
  • MadBoris - Monday, April 06, 2009 - link

    Yep, that is a problem, people get the over saturated impression. It's too vivid.

    Reminds me of when people go from CRT to LCD/Plasma. It looks really over bright and over saturated but most techies have become accustomed to that now and forgot what that transition was like. But now going from CCFL to RGBLED takes it up another notch.

    Problem is source material like movies that are post processed to look a little more vibrant on CRT TV's really look over saturated and even unnatural on the RGBLED. But given enough time the eyes and mind will become accustomed to it even if it's a bit unnatural. The RGBLED is just a bit too vibrant for some.
    Reply
  • CSMR - Saturday, April 04, 2009 - link

    This monitor has displayport and hdmi output.
    That's a point that deserves more attention IMO, since notebooks with dual digital video outputs are very rare indeed.

    One question I would have is can they both be adapted to DVI, just because displayport is not common yet. If it can't be adapted, that limits dual-display options but is still better than nothing!
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, April 05, 2009 - link

    The laptop didn't include any adapters for DisplayPort to DVI or HDMI to DVI, so I couldn't verify this aspect of the laptop. Dual digital outputs is great, I agree. Of course, if you have to use DisplayPort without an adapter, I think you might be limited to Dell LCDs for the time being. Reply
  • cvt - Friday, April 03, 2009 - link

    Jarred,

    I have one of these notebooks, similar spec except with the hotter T9550.
    Originally it came with the 320gb 7200rpm HDD, I have since changed it to a 80gb Intel X25-M.
    The heat in the palmrest and touchpad areas of the notebook are noticably cooler. The rest of the notebook, including keyboard and base are basically unchanged. The next stage I went through was undervolting the CPU. I was able to shave 0.275v off and remain completely stable. Heat overall dropped, but not dramatically. Same can be said about battery life, without timing it, I haven't noticed any major improvement, 15min max. Even after these steps It is still noticably warmer than any of my previous notebooks (recent, D820, D830, E6500). Taking into account the hardware, and changed I made, all things are pointing to the GPU being the cause of heat.
    Admitadely I have no solid data to go off, but current observation leans that way.
    Reply
  • Slappi - Friday, April 03, 2009 - link

    I have been an Anandtech reader since the start but your ATI bias is getting too obvious to ignore.

    Please don't go the way of TH.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, April 03, 2009 - link

    Bias against ATI or for ATI?

    In the case of desktops, we've been recommending plenty of ATI cards. If it's not clear from this review, I *don't* like the idea of ATI mobile GPUs if you're concerned with driver updates. NVIDIA only provides quarterly reference drivers for laptops, but that's better than not getting any support other than the manufacturer.

    From a performance standpoint, the ATI HD 3670 is better than the GeForce 9600M and lower (8700M and lower), but the 8800M/9800M/GTX 280M are all substantially faster. If you only need moderate performance, and you don't care a lot about gaming, I'm perfectly fine with running ATI GPUs in a laptop. I'd even go so far as to say my experience with ATI drivers has been better than NVIDIA drivers in terms of compatibility, just as long as you're not running CrossFire. That the August 2008 drivers Dell incorrectly installed (unless the driver version just showed up wrong) ran Far Cry 2, Fallout 3, etc. without any noticeable issues is a lot better than I would expect.

    Going forward, I've got the first high-end ATI GPU in a laptop that I've seen in over two years right now, which I'm excited to test, but it's a 4870X2 CrossFire solution so I'm *really* worried about drivers - and I say that after having seen way too many issues with NVIDIA's earlier SLI laptop drivers. Anyway, the last high-end ATI mobile GPU I tested was a Mobility X1800 in an Alienware, and that review never saw the light of day because of other laptop problems.

    If anyone is biased against ATI, I'd say it's the notebook manufacturers, who have begun to stay away from ATI options for the most part. I can find dozens of 8800M, 9800M, and now GTX 280M laptops for purchase from a variety of sources. How many 3850/3870 laptops are out there? None from Dell, HP, Gateway, etc. A quick search only finds one online. Heck, http://ati.amd.com/products/hd3000partnersproducts...">even AMD doesn't even list any 3800 series partner laptops! (I couldn't find any list for 4600 or 4800 either.)

    Personally, I try to be as impartial as possible in my reviews, and I'm at a loss as to what bias there was in this article. Discussing the lack of reference drivers from the GPU manufacturer isn't bias, it's a fact. If you want to point out specifics other than that, however, I'm open to listen to where I've been overly harsh.
    Reply
  • Pirks - Saturday, April 04, 2009 - link

    Alienware M17 has ATI 3870 (or two of them in CF) inside. AWESOME notebook for gaming, and only $1400 - best bang for buck gaming wise you could find. Reply

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