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Notebook battery testing


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#1
DA IMP

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Question's simple: Is there any way to thoroughly and reliably test a battery's overall health and efficiency?

I'm talking aside from very basic things such as spending out the battery and seeing if it effectively lasts as long as the OS' timer says it should (which it does). Something like a special software for the task.

I thought it better to ask this here on a separate topic, since it's a direct hardware concern, even though it's linked to the overall issue I present in the topic called Notebook: Inefficient battery.

Hope anyone can provide something handy. Thanks for the time.
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#2
starjax

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1) Drain battery to 0%
2) Plug in the AC, and calibrate the battery in the BIOS
3) After calibration let the battery charge while the notebook is closed
4) After 30 minutes of charging turn on the laptop
5) Check mobile meter, NHC, or everest to see the battery wear %
6) Get happy or Sad depending on the results.


I found to excellent resources:
http://www.rm.com/Su...rrer=MyComputer

http://www.notebookr...asp?newsID=3537

Now, I would also recommend that you check your bios version and see if there are any updates available from acer.
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#3
DA IMP

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Warning. Lengthy, detailed reply ahead:

First of all, let me explain the usage of this notebook, so you all can judge for yourself, if the battery wear is reasonable or not (I'd say it's not).

Treatment has been fair and respectful. That means, handled like the fragile, delicate thing it is. Has seen no outdoors usage, or exposure to any inconvenient environments.
Since it first came out of the box in August's first days, it had only a couple months, if that long, of (standard, nothing odd) usage. After that, it spent the vast majority of the time at tech support, for multiple hardware issues that are apparently unrelated to the battery (two HDD failures. WD model they used for this notebook produced several faulty units. It's on its third HDD now, which, being a different brand and model, is safe it seems).

Yes, I'm talking months after months just spent at tech support. They gave me all kinds of trouble and lies. If I'm rich someday, I'll get involved with Acer just to SINK that pit of thieves and liars :)

After that time at tech support, it's spent all the time in my hands, turned off and neatly inside the box (I admit, I never took out the battery to
preserve it further). I'm not giving it any use. I am only trying to get it all primed and ready so I can get rid of it. I need the money back. Thus, I'm not using it really, just preparing it for resell. That means, full XP install over the original Vista, plus some normal software (Photoshop, Nero, Office...), and fine-tuning to the best of my knowledge. That's not heavy usage, it's just an afternoon of installing and setting up.
Obviously, I cannot in good conscience sell it, without this battery issue solved.

What this all comes down to is: The usage has been very small, all things considered. It should be doing better I think. Though I admit, I've learned a good deal about just how fickle and expendable these batteries can be, and their quick burn-outs.

So, in reply to starjax's useful post...

1) Drain battery, no problem. Drained it pretty fast by letting it stay in the bios. Don't think it lasted 40 minutes even.
2) Plug in done. BIOS is horribly scarce in options. Lots of things I cannot do there. Absolutely nothing involving the batteries or energy settings.
3) Done.
4) Done.
5) Tried both Everest and NHC. Mobile meter seemed a bit too basic and required me to install Google Desktop along.

All info I present now, is provided by Everest, though NHC served to confirm it, in all cases.

Let me detail the steps I took, and the info output by Everest in every case:

A) When I turned it on after 30 minutes of charging while off (after the full discharge while in the BIOS), I got a battery charge of about 51%.

B) Now, after 15 minutes of being turned on, and charging from the AC still, with Everest and NHC running, with ePower management still installed but not really working (the window opens up but presents no power schemes and ALL options are unavailable, thus, not working really)...

Power Management Properties:
Current Power Source AC Line
Battery Status 56 % (Charging)
Full Battery Lifetime Unknown
Remaining Battery Lifetime Unknown

Battery Properties:
Device Name ZR3
Manufacturer SONY
Unique ID 20041SONYZR3
Battery Type Rechargeable Li-Ion
Designed Capacity 44400 mWh
Fully Charged Capacity 38728 mWh
Current Capacity 21556 mWh (56 %)
Voltage 11851 mV
Wear Level 12 %
Power State AC Line, Charging
Charge Rate 711499 mW

C) Later on. Not a lot of time passed, all I did was uninstall ePower, and reboot. Still charging from AC.

Power Management Properties:
Current Power Source AC Line
Battery Status 60 % (Charging)
Full Battery Lifetime Unknown
Remaining Battery Lifetime Unknown

Battery Properties:
Device Name ZR3
Manufacturer SONY
Unique ID 20041SONYZR3
Battery Type Rechargeable Li-Ion
Designed Capacity 44400 mWh
Fully Charged Capacity 38728 mWh
Current Capacity 23399 mWh (60 %)
Voltage 11948 mV
Wear Level 12 %
Power State AC Line, Charging
Charge Rate 709812 mW

D) Only change now, is that it's running on batteries, so now the full and remaninig battery lifetime values are present, and not "unknown" anymore. Btw, is this normal and constant? That no software can really tell you the lifetime of the battery if the notebook's running on AC? It does sound like an inconvenient limit that could be surpassed...also note how full battery lifetime is a constant, permanent unknow, regardless of circumstances.

Power Management Properties:
Current Power Source Battery
Battery Status 64 % (Unknown)
Full Battery Lifetime Unknown
Remaining Battery Lifetime 2499 sec (41 min, 39 sec)

Battery Properties:
Device Name ZR3
Manufacturer SONY
Unique ID 20041SONYZR3
Battery Type Rechargeable Li-Ion
Designed Capacity 44400 mWh
Fully Charged Capacity 38728 mWh
Current Capacity 24853 mWh (64 %)
Voltage 11089 mV
Wear Level 12 %
Power State Discharging
Discharge Rate 36208 mW

E) Now, following the helpful info on the first link provided by starjax, I plugged it back to the AC, let it reach full charge, then, using the batcal software provided on that link, unplugged the AC and caused a full, fast discharge (that is, battery was intentionally consumed fast by batcal).

Batcal timed the whole process, and battery readings reached 0% after 41 minutes. It didn't turn off right then, showing that the readings weren't entirely realistic, but it finally ran out for real and powered off instantly, being truly without any energy to go on, at 45 minutes.

After that, I plugged the AC but left the notebook off, and gave it not the 8 hours mentioned under the link's instructions, but 12. These are the Everest details I got after that...

Power Management Properties:
Current Power Source AC Line
Battery Status 100 % (High Level)
Full Battery Lifetime Unknown
Remaining Battery Lifetime Unknown

Battery Properties:
Device Name ZR3
Manufacturer SONY
Unique ID 20041SONYZR3
Battery Type Rechargeable Li-Ion
Designed Capacity 44400 mWh
Fully Charged Capacity 34410 mWh
Current Capacity 34410 mWh (100 %)
Voltage 12499 mV
Wear Level 22 %
Power State AC Line

As you can see, wear level increased from 12% to 22% in one go.

F) Finally, this is the info when, right after, I unplug the AC and let it run on batteries.

Power Management Properties:
Current Power Source Battery
Battery Status 99 % (High Level)
Full Battery Lifetime Unknown
Remaining Battery Lifetime 3731 sec (1 hours, 2 min, 11 sec)

Battery Properties:
Device Name ZR3
Manufacturer SONY
Unique ID 20041SONYZR3
Battery Type Rechargeable Li-Ion
Designed Capacity 44400 mWh
Fully Charged Capacity 34410 mWh
Current Capacity 34033 mWh (99 %)
Voltage 11884 mV
Wear Level 22 %
Power State Discharging
Discharge Rate 32834 mW

All I did, supposedly included a real battery calibration. But it didn't fix things. It only showed how the prior info was slightly inaccurate about durations, and pretty inaccurate about wear level. I'm still within the same notoriously low battery lifetimes, for something with so little usage.

So, should I just assume the battery needs replacing?

IMPORTANT: I also got to check the temperatures during the whole process. As I've said before, the fan always seems to be working at its hardest. You can just feel it and hear it, by the hot wind, and how hot the case gets on the notebook's underside, right by where the fan is (I assume the CPU itself is around there).

Everest presents two significantly different temperatures: CPU Diode and CPU. NHC presents only CPU, but matches Everest on the results. Don't quite get the difference, so I'll refer to CPU diode and CPU as presented by the software.

Now, CPU temperature, when the notebook is just on starts on 47 degrees Celsius (116 Fahrenheit). Then, under the simple usage I've been giving the notebook, to test it, it picks up until it gets to around 57C (134,6F), and stays around there for the duration of this simple usage. When it gets pushed hard by the fast discharge through batcal (see step E, above), it reaches 73C (163,4F), and stays around there for the duration of this hard usage.

On CPU diode: Just starting, 57C (134,6F). Under simple usage as described above, picks up until around 65C (149F), and stays around there for the duration of this simple usage. When pushed hard, as described above, it reaches 80C (176F), and stays around there for the duration of this hard usage.

Now, I do know what to expect from CPU temperatures on a computer. I've underclocked, overclocked, worked with different manners of cooling, overheating issues, and so on and so forth.

It's safe to say those temperatures are totally through the roof.

My basic conclusions are these:

Battery's wearing down faster than it should, but apparently these things are unstable like that. Possible causes, beyond simple passage of time:

1) Not ever being taken off during long periods of no usage (under my possession at least. Tech support may have kept it with the battery out, though I wouldn't bet on it).
2) Exposure to high temperature and inefficient, high usage thanks to a CPU that keeps overworking, no matter the adjustments.

Also, the constantly low numbers on battery lifetime, which would be low even if we added it a 22% from the wear level, may be also due to the CPU constantly overworking.

Acer doesn't seem to provide any sort of BIOS and/or AMD CPU driver for the Aspire 5050 series, except for the one I already mentions, which reads "Athlon" in big letters. Should I try to install that one? This notebook has a Turion, I don't wanna try forcing an incorrect thing on it unless it's really necessary.

AMD's website provides a sort of multi-purpose, multi-model driver/BIOS/whatever download, that targets the Turion, and supposedly affects its usage and energy efficiency. I'll try that one for sure. About the one I mentioned above, the "Athlon" one, I'd rather get confirmation/encouragement from someone else, like one of you people.

In any case, I made a Ghost image of the whole drive before starting on all these tests, so if that "Athlon" driver makes the notebook go bonkers, I can just overwrite everything and have the system right back to the fully fresh, complete XP and software installs...

I hope someone else can make more sense of this than me. Thank you all for the help.
sarjax: Your post has at the very least, given me a bunch of info to better understand this whole deal. Thank you.
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#4
DA IMP

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News on the testing process:

I installed the driver provided by AMD. You can find it at: http://www.amd.com/l...1_13349,00.html
It's the third one on the list, starting from the bottom. You get a basic description of its functions, along with its release date, right there on the list. If you download it and run it, it'll present you with a detailed readme-style text about its functions and purposes, without the need to install it. So, you can do that if you're feeling curious.

Sorry for the mix of spanish and english on that same page, but the large majority of the text, including all pertinent one, is in english, so no one here should have any trouble.

So...This install changed things quite a bit. For the better.

Upon a reboot, Everest informed me, among other things, that the CPU speed, instead of staying at 2.2GHz (maximum CPU capacity) all the time, as it was before (refer to the whole "CPU working 100% unnecessarily")...would go to a much more logical speed (800MHz) when there was no usage, or the usage was basic.
Also, temperatures under simple usage (as described in the previous post) dropped to levels below the starting temperature. Not that much lower than starting, but considerably lower, compared with the same circumstance before.
And now the fan doesn't feel like it's trying to cool the fires of the Pit.

Details from Everest, NHC-confirmed, as before:

A) On batteries, upon restarting from the AMD driver install. Simple usage.

Power Management Properties:
Current Power Source Battery
Battery Status 93 % (High Level)
Full Battery Lifetime Unknown
Remaining Battery Lifetime 5008 sec (1 hours, 23 min, 28 sec)

Battery Properties:
Device Name ZR3
Manufacturer SONY
Unique ID 20041SONYZR3
Battery Type Rechargeable Li-Ion
Designed Capacity 44400 mWh
Fully Charged Capacity 34410 mWh
Current Capacity 31935 mWh (93 %)
Voltage 11943 mV
Wear Level 22 %
Power State Discharging
Discharge Rate 22955 mW

B) Under same situation, a few moments after, Everest reported a slightly longer lifetime. I guess that's a last-second increase caused by the notebook usage being a bit smaller right then and there. That's the kind of logic I expect here, so it's good to see this, instead of massive usage changes causing only slight lifetime variations.

Power Management Properties:
Current Power Source Battery
Battery Status 92 % (High Level)
Full Battery Lifetime Unknown
Remaining Battery Lifetime 5223 sec (1 hours, 27 min, 3 sec)
Battery Properties:
Device Name ZR3
Manufacturer SONY
Unique ID 20041SONYZR3
Battery Type Rechargeable Li-Ion
Designed Capacity 44400 mWh
Fully Charged Capacity 34410 mWh
Current Capacity 31535 mWh (92 %)
Voltage 11905 mV
Wear Level 22 %
Power State Discharging
Discharge Rate 21756 mW

C) Screen brightness was maximum on the prior descriptions on this post. Now, as it should be expected, lowering it to a minimum caused a further (and this time, significant) increase in battery lifetime. Now we're getting honestly close to an acceptable energy situation.

Power Management Properties:
Current Power Source Battery
Battery Status 88 % (High Level)
Full Battery Lifetime Unknown
Remaining Battery Lifetime 6435 sec (1 hours, 47 min, 15 sec)

Battery Properties:
Device Name ZR3
Manufacturer SONY
Unique ID 20041SONYZR3
Battery Type Rechargeable Li-Ion
Designed Capacity 44400 mWh
Fully Charged Capacity 34410 mWh
Current Capacity 30159 mWh (88 %)
Voltage 11856 mV
Wear Level 22 %
Power State Discharging
Discharge Rate 16794 mW

D) Same as before, but with full charge.

Power Management Properties:
Current Power Source Battery
Battery Status 99 % (High Level)
Full Battery Lifetime Unknown
Remaining Battery Lifetime 7317 sec (2 hours, 1 min, 57 sec)

Battery Properties:
Device Name ZR3
Manufacturer SONY
Unique ID 20041SONYZR3
Battery Type Rechargeable Li-Ion
Designed Capacity 44400 mWh
Fully Charged Capacity 34410 mWh
Current Capacity 33911 mWh (99 %)
Voltage 12223 mV
Wear Level 22 %
Power State Discharging
Discharge Rate 16683 mW

So, to sum up: On full charge, on a light-weight very basic usage, I'm getting two hours now. This will be further increased by things like the HDD/LCD/other hardware going off after X minutes of idle time, and so.

If I add a further 22% to that full charge, to take the wear level into account, I'd get another 27 minutes. Two hours and a half. Now that's truly reasonable.

Any further ideas and comments are quite welcome of course. I guess the way to go now, is to see if I can push the people at the warranty for a battery replacement.

Thank you all for the time, interest and help.
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#5
starjax

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yes. I would agree. It sounds like the batteries power management circuit is having issues. Not to mention that it's a Sony battery and they have had a lot of issues in recent history. Although I suspect your system is new enough not to have those particular issues.
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#6
DA IMP

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yes. I would agree. It sounds like the batteries power management circuit is having issues. Not to mention that it's a Sony battery and they have had a lot of issues in recent history. Although I suspect your system is new enough not to have those particular issues.


I guess 22% wear level is an unfortunate, but possible wear after 9 months.

The really unfortunate part, is how the battery has been out of the factory, and thus exposed to natural wear, for 9 months, with the notebook actually seeing much much less usage than that. And most of its usage having been on tech support's part. So, realistically, it's only been a useful, productive piece of hardware for 2 months, tops.

Do you think the way the wear level changed dramatically after the full-discharge/full-recharge, is another indication of how the battery's own chip was inaccurate on its readings? The discharge/recharge thing had been done before, but only this time did I get its progress documented.

Should I expect the battery's wear level to grow up again if I do it again? I mean, I've read of people having that problem, in the links you gave me, starjax.

In short: Is that sudden change a show of inaccurate readings, super-fast deterioration, or both?
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#7
starjax

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well, this is what I can say. Your mileage will vary. If ylu run with the laptop on ac most of the time, it would be worth it to leave the batter out of the notebook.

I used to perform desk side support up until about 2 years ago. This means hardware and software repairs. I supported a user base that had about 3,000 laptops. Battery life would be good for a year and then depending on use, would drop. After about 2 years, a new batter would need to be ordered. Most people would end up with new batteries after 3 years. I would say light use or infrequent draining of the battery can cause excessive wear. Should you see that much deterioration in 9 months? I don't think you should. You could certainly extend the life by removing it when not in use for long periods of time.
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