There is a lot of talk going around the Web regarding Vista’s Aero interface eating up precious battery life on laptops. Today the Windows Vista Blog responded to the concerns that a lot of people had by saying:
First off, yes, as Dwight correctly points out, the Aero theme drives the GPU harder and therefore uses more power. But in the big picture, it’s really not that much more. For example, the display on most laptops will consume somewhere between 15-25% of your “power budget” when you are running on battery. Nevertheless, in our testing we’ve seen that turning on Aero consumes only about 1-4% more of battery life. In terms of making your battery last longer, turning off Aero will not go very far while at the same time costing you some of the cool features that make Windows Vista fun to use, such as Flip 3D, taskbar previews, window transparency and so on.
So they do admit that having Aero enabled does cause slightly more of a battery drain, but they planned ahead and implemented something to reduce the battery consumption in Vista. If you put your laptop into Power Saver mode (left-click on the battery icon in the System Tray), and then unplug the computer you’ll notice that Vista automatically disabled the transparency feature. All of the other Aero features still remain in tact, such as the Flip 3D and Taskbar previews, but some of the eye candy has been removed. It might not be much but this does indeed save battery power.
If that’s still not enough for you there is an application that someone made to help even more. Whenever this program is running it will disable Aero all together (no Flip 3D, Taskbar previews, transparency, etc…) as soon as your computer switches to battery power. This is supposed to maximize your battery life, but from my personal experience it doesn’t really help that much.
I definitely recommend switching into Power Saver mode if you are ever trying to conserver battery power. When I do that with my PC I end up with more battery life than when I run XP on it. Of course there is always the High Performance mode that you can switch into if you really want to see how fast you can drain your battery. :)
Note: With a fully charged battery in Balanced mode (and running dual-monitors with full screen brightness) I get an estimated 3 hours and 18 minutes of battery life. Switching over to Power Saver mode, still with full screen brightness, I am estimated to get 4 hours and 4 minutes.