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Notebook: Inefficient battery


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#1
DA IMP

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Though it is heavily hardware-related, this issue definitely rings of software origins to me. So I chose to put it in this part of the forum. Let me know if I did wrong. Anyways...

This problem's pretty compounded in itself, and I've seen no proper addressing it in past topics, separate or combined, so here goes:

The notebook's an Acer Aspire 5050-3759. Turion 64; ATI chipset; 1GB DDR2; Battery's a classical 6-cells Li-Ion. Only difference with the standard model is a 100GBs Hitachi HDD instead of a 80GBs WD. Comes with Vista Home Premium, and several Empowering Technology applications pre-installed.
ePower is one of those applications, taking charge of handling the energy settings.

Under Vista, it offers a battery life of (roughly): 50-60 minutes with maximum power usage settings, around 2 hours with a balanced usage setting, and close to 3 hours with a minimum usage setting.
Now, when I installed XP SP2 on this notebook (fully patched and fine-tuned to the best of my knowledge), and the XP version of all Empowering Technology applications, ePower went buggy.

First of all, the battery life goes from 50 minutes to about 80, tops. That's all the change I get, when adjusting from absolute minimum, to absolute maximum battery usage. This obviously doesn't make sense, as something so radical as 1/3 screen brightness and 1/3 CPU speed should cause a vastly larger difference with maximum usage.

Also, though I'm not 100% positive about this yet, I think I noticed the fan(s) working at top speed all the time, regardless of adjustments. That is, the air coming out of the vent would be hot and strong enough to evidence that.

Moreover, upon one or two reboots, ePower stops working. It loads up, but trying to open it to make any changes will result in nothing. If you click on it on the Empowering Technology taskbar on the upper-right corner of the screen, its icon will come out to the fore twice (one for rolling over, two for the clicking), and that's it. Uninstalling then reinstalling doesn't fix this. With this current install included, this has happened on two completely separate XP installs (althought, both installs having been made by me, I could be making the same mistakes twice).

If it needs to be said...Normal XP energy management doesn't provide any significant differences. I get around an hour of battery life with it. And of course, I cannot make any of the advanced adjustments ePower provides me with.

I wish all these were just the software making miscalculations, but they're not phantoms. The battery life ends up being just as short as the involved timers indicate.

Could this really imply that XP is significantly worse than Vista at handling notebook energy settings? I really don't have much experience with Vista itself, but I really don't wanna have any, either. What little I do have, is negative, and not a single person in the know (including extremely well-qualified people) has told me anything but bad stuff about it. In short, I don't want it, and I know I should be able to make full, efficient usage of this notebook with XP.

Furthermore, it seems to be a heavier OS, thus how could it be more economic battery-wise? Everything I know, indicates that XP should be doing sizeably better than Vista on this. I've installed XP on multiple notebooks, including very similar ones (like, other Aspire models), and this is the only one that has presented this issue so far.

Another detail that may be significant: I've read very vague comments in other websites, about how AMD CPU drivers may affect things such as this. I downloaded all drivers for the notebook, straight from acer.com (a few needed an extra upgrade that XP searched for online automatically, but nothing bigger than that), and there was only one AMD CPU XP driver available for the Aspire 5050 series. I didn't install it, 'cos it's apparently for the Athlon only. I mean, I'm not positive, but it does say "AMD Athlon" in large letters in the logos when you run it.

Could this be the cause of the energy defficiencies? 'cos I doubt it could really be causing the "ePower won't open up" bug.

So, what should I do? Help offered by Acer's tech support is severely limited, since they only support this notebook with its pre-installed OS.

Does anyone know of a more efficient power managent application? Maybe that's the final solution?

Any and all help will be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time.
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#2
Neil Jones

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Ignore ePower, its a useless piece of software. XP's perfectly capable of power managing on its own and can easily get two or so hours out of a battery.

Do remember though, a lot depends on what you're doing with it. Constant HDD access, CD access and wireless all help to drain the battery. Therefore a laptop where you simply sit and type into Microsoft Word will last far longer on the battery than downloading wireless internet things.
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#3
DA IMP

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Ignore ePower, its a useless piece of software. XP's perfectly capable of power managing on its own and can easily get two or so hours out of a battery.

Do remember though, a lot depends on what you're doing with it. Constant HDD access, CD access and wireless all help to drain the battery. Therefore a laptop where you simply sit and type into Microsoft Word will last far longer on the battery than downloading wireless internet things.


The battery lasts around an hour even with absolutely minimum notebook usage (that is, letting it sit there, not using it, but not letting it go into standby or hibernation). It lasts even less (45-50 minutes) with light-medium usage.

In short: I don't find any way to get a respectable battery duration under XP. I really really wish I could "easily get two or so hours," but it just doesn't happen. That's why I asked.

I'm sorry, it seems I should've clarified...I've been using PCs of all kinds for most of my life. I solve problems like these, and quite bigger ones, for a living. It's just that notebooks are still a relative rarity to me (I don't live in the first world exactly) and this one issue's surpassing me. So, it has to be something more advanced than "the battery lasts little 'cos you use it a lot."

In fact, one of the other clear issues, is how little the battery duration varies from absolute minimum, to heavy usage. Half an hour variation (tops...more often, it's 15-20 minutes), even if the total's 80 minutes, is a small difference. Barely above 33%.

I also feel I should disagree partly with XP's native power managing capabilities. Sure, it works, and it's enough for typical novice users sometimes, but it has very few options. It only lets you choose how much idle time is needed to trigger this or that. It doesn't really change the usage parameters. All it does is send a few hardware devices to sleep after X idle minutes. ePower at least (theoretically) should let me fine-tune stuff like the on/off status of further devices, screen brightness, and even CPU speed...plus the normal "hardware off after X idle minutes" deal.

I insist...isn't there something like ePower out there, with all those fine-tuning options, but better? Some upgrade that fixes this up?

I'll ask in the hardware forums, about how to test the battery itself. Tech support said they tested it, but frankly, Acer has shown me that their tech support's expertise is alarmingly low. Also, I see no signs of deterioration. It lasts what either XP or ePower are saying. It charges up just fine...
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#4
Neil Jones

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This may then be an issue with the battery itself - no two batteries are the same and depending on the charging cycles then just like batteries in a mobile phone, the effectiveness gradually falls off to a point a couple of years or so down where it spends more time being charging than it does doing anything else. Of course a common clause to get out of this by the manufacturers is an "up to x hours usage".
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#5
DA IMP

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This may then be an issue with the battery itself - no two batteries are the same and depending on the charging cycles then just like batteries in a mobile phone, the effectiveness gradually falls off to a point a couple of years or so down where it spends more time being charging than it does doing anything else. Of course a common clause to get out of this by the manufacturers is an "up to x hours usage".


The battery itself and the CPU are the current suspects. The battery is either wearing down fast by mere passage of time (9 months since bought only, of which it's barely 2 months in real activity), or by the CPU working extra hard regardless of circumstances.

Whatever the cause, I think it's safe to conclude that the result is a highly inefficient battery lifetime, especially considering the hardware's "age" and usage.

All this is treated with detail as well, under other topic. I posted two, 'cos I wanted to address both sides of the situaton. Topic's called Notebook battery testing.

Maybe it's better to just continue everything there. I leave it up to the moderators to choose whether this topic should be closed in favor of Notebook battery testing.

Thank you.
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