Keith Combs' Blahg

Ramblings from another nerd on the grid

Nearly 12 hours on battery with the Lenovo ThinkPad W530

Nearly 12 hours on battery with the Lenovo ThinkPad W530

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W530Yesterday during our family gathering for the 4th of July pool party I pulled the plug out of the Lenovo ThinkPad W530.  It was 6pm and I figured it would die before bedtime. 

Much to my shock and amazement, it was no where near done when I crashed last night so I decided to repeat the test first thing this morning.  I was thinking in my best wicked witch of the west voice, “I‘ll fix you my pretty”.

So this morning after the coffee was made and the initial emails were deleted I pulled the plug again.  That was at 9:10am CST.  The damn thing ran all day long.  It didn’t die until 8:52pm CST tonight.  That’s nearly 12 hours on battery.

Some Background on the Machine

The model I have sitting here is not the top end ThinkPad W530.  It’s a 2447-A54 which is not listed in http://www.lenovo.com/psref/pdf/tabook.pdf.  It does have the Intel® Core™ i7-3720QM processor, 1920x1080 FHD screen, Intel HD Graphics 4000/NVIDIA Quadro® K1000M GPUs, 8GB RAM, 9 cell battery, and the new Intel Series 520 180GB SSD. The W530 I used didn’t have a slice or Ultrabay battery. The only battery used is the new 9-cell from Lenovo.

Yesterday during cooling off breaks I would look at how the machine was behaving depending on different Power Manager settings.  I noticed while on AC power, the fan spins at 2700rpm most of the time.  I also noticed at the same time with Max Turbo turned on, this computer is running at 40C nearly all the time even when spiking up to 3.50GHz clock speeds.  This was at relatively idle tasks, but still.  Impressive cooling.  Fan speeds and noise, not so much.

Someone has been doing their homework with this chipset and BIOS.  It’s clear from what I was seeing that the machine is tapping the upper end of the spectrum more often and staying nice and cool.  I wouldn’t get too excited.  It is after all brand new and the power and cooling characteristics can change over time.  They certainly did on my ThinkPad W510.

If you are wondering how to look at what is going on, there are many ways.  At the moment I am testing Windows 7 Ultimate x64 which includes resmon.exe.  I also use HWiNFO64 but I’ll warn you, v4 of HWiNFO64 is crashing on this machine.  I had to back off to v3.95.

Battery Testing

Everyone has their idea of battery testing.  I like to keep it pretty simple so other people can repeat the test if needed.  Windows 7 Ult x64 SP1 was installed cleanly and full patched.  All of the drivers from support.lenovo.com were installed so that there were no banged out devices.  Lenovo Power Manager, Ultranav, Hotkey support, and fingerprint reader software were installed.  Very little Lenovo software other than that was installed. Office 2010 Pro Plus was installed and fully updated.  Adobe Air and Tweetdeck (the old good version) were installed.

In the case of this test, I set my Lenovo Power Manager profile so that the screen never turns off.  The machine obviously never suspends.  Most of the other power management settings in the profile are really miserly.  I set the screen brightness to 7 which is pretty dim but certainly usable. The backlit keyboard was off.

I started Outlook and had it connected to my Office 365 personal account the entire time.  Tweetdeck was up and running the entire time, thus the WIFI card (Intel 6300) was active presumably the entire time, too.  I did check email off and on, tweet a few times, hit a couple of websites, etc.  It was a pretty lightweight test.  Most of the time I wasn’t touching the machine.

Silence

One thing that became apparent early in this test was the near silence of the machine.  I don’t know exactly what was going on inside, but I do know the machine ran cold the entire day.  I mean really cool on the bottom.  Not only that, the fan wasn’t spinning much.  I could not hear it at all and I swear it was off most of the time.

Whenever I fired up HWiNFO64, the fan would spin back up to 2700rpm.  I need to figure out a way to passively capture some data around this to see what GHz the CPU and GPU clock speeds are.  They must be really really low. 

I have not done any high performance testing yet to see how the machine performs on AC power and battery when loaded down with a hardcore task.  If the W530 is like the W520, the CPU is throttled to some extent on battery power.  This battery test seems to be another indicator of that.  While on AC power, the CPU runs from 1.20GHz - 3.6GHz.  It sure seems like it goes lower on battery.

Your Mileage

When the ThinkPad W520 first came out, I did a similar test and the W520 got 6.5 hours on battery.  Considering that was about a 120% improvement over the ThinkPad W510, we were pretty giddy about that.  Finally, a workstation that doesn’t die after 2-3 hours. 

Now that I’ve seen this machine test in this range twice, I am needless to say impressed with the result.  Just think, if International flights had WIFI (I know it is coming), you could remain connected to the world from Dallas to Berlin.  Obviously gaming, video, and other chores are going to take their toll, but Ivy Bridge and the work the Lenovo engineers have done is apparent.  Let just hope the reliability of the platform is better than it’s predecessor.

I’ll be testing Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012.  There’s a lot to do so I will share more observations and findings later.

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  • <p>Hey Keith with the extended battery does it have the battery on the outside or is it concealed in the machine?</p>

  • <p>Hey Keith, I loved this review! You helped reassure me that I wanted to get this laptop (which I now have). I just have one question, how did you manage an almost 12 hr battery life??? My battery (set to lowest settings possible: screen brightness at 6, backlit keyboard off, bluetooth off, just adpbe air running in the back (along with Dolby and Nvidia process running.))</p> <p>Could you help me out?</p>