OS X Mountain Lion may be degrading battery life, test shows

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
In response to an Apple Support Communities forum thread, a report on Tuesday offers anecdotal evidence that the new OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion may be causing battery life issues for some MacBook users.

According to a test conducted by Ars Technica, there may be evidence that Apple's new operating system is draining batteries significantly faster than the previous OS X Lion, as the publication's test unit lost some 38 percent of runtime after having installed Mountain Lion.

In a series of unscientific tests, a MacBook Pro with Retina display was run on battery power both with and without Mountain Lion installed. Ars was able to hit just over eight hours of runtime with Lion and the integrated Intel HD4000 GPU, meaning the computer wasn't leveraging the discrete and power-hungry NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M. With Mountain Lion installed and using the same settings, however, runtime dipped to around five hours.

The test was conducted a number of times, each using the same applications under what was described as a "daily workload." Being used actively were Safari, Chrome, Twitter, iChat, TextEdit, Photoshop, Mail and Outlook, among others while Dropbox and gfxCardStatus ran in the background. As far as systems settings, Wi-Fi was activated while Bluetooth was turned off and screen brightness was set to half-strength.

Mountain Lion's Activity Monitor was used to check CPU usage and, while there were occasional spikes when reading or writing files, loading web pages or other user-initiated operations, the processor was usually below five percent capacity. This is contrary to one account from an Apple Communities forum member who noted a heightened CPU temperature when the computer was idle.

Mountain Lion


A 49-page Apple Support Communities thread first started on July 25, the day Mountain Lion was released, chronicles a number of battery issue complaints from users who recently installed Apple's new OS.

A few forum members suggested the problem lies with one of Mountain Lion's new features like Power Nap, while others have found limited success with resetting their machine's system management controller, but a legitimate fix has yet to be discovered.

Interestingly, only certain machines are affected by the purported battery drain issue and some users are even reporting their battery life increased after installing the new operating system.

Apple has yet to release an official statement, but a number of forum members affected by the issue claim Apple representatives reached out to obtain system information in an attempt to remedy the problem.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 87


    Welcome to Microsoft software development.  Release now, fix bugs later.

  • Reply 2 of 87
    blitz1blitz1 Posts: 413member
    Trolls!
  • Reply 3 of 87


    Looks like the MobileMe team was allowed back into the rest of Apple!


     


    Snow Leopard is giving me 8-10 hours productivity on a 2010 MacBook Air. Mountain Lion's not going anywhere near the SSD until 10.8.6, at least. Point-six is usually when I upgrade. The extreme guinea pigs will probably be on 10.10.0 by then.

  • Reply 4 of 87
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    I haven't noticed any battery issues with ML since the initial beta but I wouldn't doubt there are such issues. This is par for the course with a major OS update.


    Signed,
    Extreme Guinea Pig

    [IMG]http://forums.appleinsider.com/content/type/61/id/10136/width/350/height/700[/IMG]
  • Reply 5 of 87


    I'm always a late-comer to OS releases myself. I upgraded to Leopard when SL was released and upgraded to SL just about 3/4's of the way into the OS's lifecycle. I usually do it about half-way in to give it time to work out the kinks. ML looks like another great OS X release and I'll probably upgrade later on but for now I'm happy with Lion.


     


    I suspect this will be blown out of proportion like most Apple "scandals" do.

  • Reply 6 of 87

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post



    I haven't noticed any battery issues with ML since the initial beta but I wouldn't doubt there are such issues. This is par for the course with a major OS update.

    Signed,

    Extreme Guinea Pig

    image


     


    LOVE IT!!! Rockin' the Mountain Lions with my shades and carrot stick. image

  • Reply 7 of 87
    vadaniavadania Posts: 425member
    bdkennedy wrote: »
    Welcome to Microsoft software development.  Release now, fix bugs later.

    OMG! Yes! I've been trying to get a few things straight, but multi monitor support just went "out the window" so to speak.

    I filed a bug report with apple. Actually, three of them. Hopefully they fix this.

    I read so many comments here on how mountain lion would be a fix on lion, just like snow leopard was one to leopard. Don't blame me folks. I took this from your comments.


    ....it's not a fix. Period.

    I also wish the people posting on Apple Support Communities would just submit a bug report.

    However, I haven't noticed any battery problems with my new retina Mac... Just saying.

    (disclaimer: I'm too young for Leopard, so I actually LISTENED to your remarks.)
  • Reply 8 of 87
    vadaniavadania Posts: 425member
    solipsismx wrote: »
    I haven't noticed any battery issues with ML since the initial beta but I wouldn't doubt there are such issues. This is par for the course with a major OS update.
    Signed,
    Extreme Guinea Pig
    700

    So you're going to do the cool pics now?

    Just wondering...
  • Reply 9 of 87
    iqatedoiqatedo Posts: 1,717member


    My i7 iMac just freezes, cursor works but nothing else... I think that there is a fix though here:


     


    http://support.apple.com/kb/HT3964?viewlocale=en_US&locale=en_US


     


    All the best.

  • Reply 10 of 87
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,607member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by IQatEdo View Post


    My i7 iMac just freezes, cursor works but nothing else... I think that there is a fix though here:


     


    http://support.apple.com/kb/HT3964?viewlocale=en_US&locale=en_US


     


    All the best.



     


    I've been having freezing issues like that too (system frozen, mouse still moves). I've had two of those instances so far with Mountain Lion -- never had any freezing issues with Lion. I've also noticed that SystemUIServer has crashed on me at least 3 times since installing Mountain Lion. Or at least I think that it's crashing. The Menu bar shows a spinning wheel and won't respond when I hover the mouse over it -- I go to Activity Monitor to find SystemUIServer taking up about 54% CPU. I hit Force Quit, the process restarts itself, then all is well. 


     


    Again, an annoying problem I never had with Lion.

  • Reply 11 of 87
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,610member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by IQatEdo View Post


    My i7 iMac just freezes, cursor works but nothing else... I think that there is a fix though here:


     


    http://support.apple.com/kb/HT3964?viewlocale=en_US&locale=en_US


     


    All the best.



     


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Mazda 3s View Post


     


    I've been having freezing issues like that too (system frozen, mouse still moves). I've had two of those instances so far with Mountain Lion -- never had any freezing issues with Lion. I've also noticed that SystemUIServer has crashed on me at least 3 times since installing Mountain Lion. Or at least I think that it's crashing. The Menu bar shows a spinning wheel and won't respond when I hover the mouse over it -- I go to Activity Monitor to find SystemUIServer taking up about 54% CPU. I hit Force Quit, the process restarts itself, then all is well. 


     


    Again, an annoying problem I never had with Lion.





    My 2009 i7 iMac had its first system freeze ever.  I'm about 3-days into ML.  However, mine is the reverse.  The mouse and keyboard stopped responding, but it seemed the machine itself kept running.  I considered that the BT keyboard and mouse may have lost the connection, but it still remained unresponsive after I plugged in my original iMac wired keyboard.



    I ended up doing a clean re-install of ML instead of upgrading from Lion.  I like clean systems.  Other than that, been a solid update.  I am looking forward to 10.8.1 to address these and other potential issues that I'm reading with other people.



    I upgraded my 2011 MBA the day after the ML release.  Clean-install too.  Been working just fine with the exception of the battery life taking a hit.  Fortunately, I leave it plugged in the entire time at work so I'm not impacted by it really.



    Let's get these fixes in Apple.

  • Reply 12 of 87
    vadaniavadania Posts: 425member
    iqatedo wrote: »
    My i7 iMac just freezes, cursor works but nothing else... I think that there is a fix though here:

    http://support.apple.com/kb/HT3964?viewlocale=en_US&locale=en_US

    All the best.

    This is a new one on ML. Wait until you can't get out of your screen saver... It will come. Just be patient.
  • Reply 13 of 87

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post


    Looks like the MobileMe team was allowed back into the rest of Apple!


     


    Snow Leopard is giving me 8-10 hours productivity on a 2010 MacBook Air. Mountain Lion's not going anywhere near the SSD until 10.8.6, at least. Point-six is usually when I upgrade. The extreme guinea pigs will probably be on 10.10.0 by then.



    When people, you included make these kind of claims about what you are and not going to do, do you really think it matters to people? 

  • Reply 14 of 87
    vadaniavadania Posts: 425member
    sflocal wrote: »

    I ended up doing a clean re-install of ML instead of upgrading from Lion.  I like clean systems.  Other than that, been a solid update.  I am looking forward to 10.8.1 to address these and other potential issues that I'm reading with other people.


    I upgraded my 2011 MBA the day after the ML release.  Clean-install too.  Been working just fine with the exception of the battery life taking a hit.  Fortunately, I leave it plugged in the entire time at work so I'm not impacted by it really.


    Let's get these fixes in Apple.

    Some times I wonder if you guys collectively understand what you are doing? In my TEENS, we used to have to do a clean install of Winblows... So if you are doing this I should never hear you posting a bad remark about Micro-soft.

    Also, I'm betting you didn't do a clean ML install. I'll wager you did a Snow Leopard, to Lion, to Mountain Lion install... Just a guess. Wait until you actually do a REAL Lion install. The results can be shocking!!!

    I had the same issue, and luckily just re-booting was fine. It said Apple would get a report, which is fine.

    However I can't stress the how interesting is it to see 'long time users' post hatred thoughts about competitors and then explain how they needed to do the same thing with their machine.


    So collectively here windows gets trashed, and it is horrible, but then I read posts (and experience), about the same (or worse) problems with OSX.

    Interestingly, multi monitor support has been on the forbidden operating system for a long, long time.

    Just my 2 cents.
  • Reply 15 of 87
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,316member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post


    Looks like the MobileMe team was allowed back into the rest of Apple!


     


    Snow Leopard is giving me 8-10 hours productivity on a 2010 MacBook Air. Mountain Lion's not going anywhere near the SSD until 10.8.6, at least. Point-six is usually when I upgrade. The extreme guinea pigs will probably be on 10.10.0 by then.



     


    Enough of your sensationalism and your condescension. Nobody cares when you plan to update or the fact that you're running an OS 2 generations old. It doesn't make you any more intelligent or informed, as you seem to believe. Extreme guinea pigs'? I updated to ML instantly. You know why? Because I read a dozen reviews before then, all of which stated that it was a rock solid release. I didn't want to wait several months to take advantage of features such as much better iCloud syncing, airplay from my mac, notification center, messages, powernap, notes/reminder syncing, dictation, much better safari, dozens of small tweaks + performance improvements, etc. I haven't experienced a SINGLE issue with the upgrade, my battery life actually seems better, performance is better, and everything has been rock solid. This isn't some experimental beta software, its an OS that has been made public to tens of millions of people from a company that has alot to lose if there's serious problems with it. Are there some people who might experience issues? Sure. There's so many code changes in a new OS that its impossible for everyone to have a completely smooth experience. But all indications show that this is one of the best (if not the best) .0 release from Apple yet, and from my own personal experience it certainly is. Every piece of software I've tried works, the new features are great as I actually use many day to day, and there's been absolutely no downsides. The OS is tighter in every way. I'm sure millions of others have the same experience.


     


    You want to wait, thats fine, more power to you. But don't insult those who already upgraded as if you have more insight than they do. It's great that SL is fine for you, but I could never ever go back, after getting used to how things work in ML. I'm not going to call you an idiot for not updating, and you shouldnt call those who have chosen to do so idiots either. The MobileMe comment is also absurd. 

  • Reply 16 of 87
    vadaniavadania Posts: 425member
    slurpy wrote: »
    Enough of your sensationalism and your condescension. Nobody cares when you plan to update or the fact that you're running an OS 2 generations old. It doesn't make you any more intelligent or informed, as you seem to believe. Extreme guinea pigs'? I updated to ML instantly. You know why? Because I read a dozen reviews before then, all of which stated that it was a rock solid release. I didn't want to wait several months to take advantage of features such as much better iCloud syncing, airplay from my mac, notification center, messages, powernap, notes/reminder syncing, dictation, much better safari, dozens of small tweaks + performance improvements, etc. I haven't experienced a SINGLE issue with the upgrade, my battery life actually seems better, performance is better, and everything has been rock solid. This isn't some experimental beta software, its an OS that has been made public to tens of millions of people from a company that has alot to lose if there's serious problems with it. Are there some people who might experience issues? Sure. There's so many code changes in a new OS that its impossible for everyone to have a completely smooth experience. But all indications show that this is one of the best (if not the best) .0 release from Apple yet, and from my own personal experience it certainly is. Every piece of software I've tried works, the new features are great as I actually use many day to day, and there's been absolutely no downsides. The OS is tighter in every way. I'm sure millions of others have the same experience.

    You want to wait, thats fine, more power to you. But don't insult those who already upgraded as if you have more insight than they do. It's great that SL is fine for you, but I could never ever go back, after getting used to how things work in ML. I'm not going to call you an idiot for not updating, and you shouldnt call those who have chosen to do so idiots either. The MobileMe comment is also absurd. 

    I'm really starting to like your objectivity. Good call! As we say in Boston, "Cool Beans!"

    Actually, I'm very interested. You haven't had a "single" problem? Do you do multi-monitor work?

    I'm also being trivial here, (very, very trivial) but did you notice more screen savers yet fewer screen saver options?

    ...and before some one rides my case about just screen savers. There's more than that.
  • Reply 17 of 87


    That was my experience with Lion on a macbook '09 and it didn't improve much even after a clean install, etc.  I upgraded the RAM, tried all the usual forum advice, but in the end I just accepted the new OS requires more power for my basic usage.  Having nothing to lose, I've since upgraded to Mountain Lion and I like the OS even more, but I still find the battery life is my only issue.

  • Reply 18 of 87
    vadaniavadania Posts: 425member
    That was my experience with Lion on a macbook '09 and it didn't improve much even after a clean install, etc.  I upgraded the RAM, tried all the usual forum advice, but in the end I just accepted the new OS requires more power for my basic usage.  Having nothing to lose, I've since upgraded to Mountain Lion and I like the OS even more, but I still find the battery life is my only issue.

    While I do fundamentally understand "how" battery life could be effected by a software upgrade, I do find it extremely implausible that it would actually happen. Other than Apps/Programs running constantly it just doesn't make sense.

    This is, I think, a user case scenario.

    I don't mean to come off as dissmissive, but I literally haven't studied in detail how software and batteries work.

    Trust me, some users (I hate saying users) don't even know what's actually running on their device.

    Also, after having to do a "clean install", you will be further stricken from the record on opposing operating systems.

    I have a great memory. One that hurts me more than helps me. It's photographic.
  • Reply 19 of 87
    irnchrizirnchriz Posts: 1,602member


    Upgraded my 2009 iMac from Lion (Lion install was done as a clean install shortly after release).  No issues, runs nice and quick only been rebooted once since upgrade after I changed the location of my iTunes library.


     


    No lockups/freezes or otherwise.


     


    Macbook Pro late 2011 (SSD - HDD in Optibay) Clean install with Mountain lion.  No lockups freezes or otherwise.  battery life clocks in at 6-6.5 hours per day with 60% screen brightness.


     


    What I run:


     


    iMac -Usenet downloads, iTunes (serves media to 3x Apple TVs), Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Outlook 2011, Mail, Safari, World of Warcraft, Parallels 7


     


    Macbook - Outlook 2011, Photoshop CS5, Mail, Safari, Messages, iWork, Word 2011, Excel 2011, Parallels 7


     


    I get exactly the same usage on battery as I was getting under Lion on my Macbook which is fine as it lasts me a full work day.  If I need to eek out more battery life I reduce the brightness and use my iPad for email instead of outlook, I also disable dropbox, skydrive and any other little programs running in the background, this normally gets me around 8-9hrs uptime.  If I use Parallels on the Macbook it cuts battery life down by half straight away.

  • Reply 20 of 87
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    It is a well-established fact that OS X spends a great deal of energy indexing the hard drive after installing the OS. Any test that doesn't acknowledge that fact or confirm that they waited until indexing was complete is somewhat questionable.
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