So, I bought a new 15-inch MacBook Pro. Intel i7, the new high-res screen, and an SSD. Ever since last year I’ve been waiting to get one of the new sealed battery MacBooks to benefit from the huge battery life. This one promised 8-9 hours.
Over the past few weeks, based on my regular usage (web surfing, a little iTunes, some chat, etc) I was seeing only about 3.5-4 hours of battery life. That’s awful. Well, maybe not awful for a Dell, but awful for a brand new Mac that’s supposed to do the 8-9 hours.
I thought one of two things: either Apple is fudging the numbers more than usual — or I have a defective battery. After some online research, I came across a tool called gfxCardStatus. If you have a new MacBook Pro with graphics switching, you have to get this right now.
Basically, it seems like there is a major problem with battery drain caused by the graphic card switching. The problem may be related to the fact that the switching is occurring way too often, when simple programs that don’t need the NVIDIA board think that they do. With this gfxCardStatus tool, you can see exactly what is going on — and more importantly, stop it.
With it, you can set which graphics card you want your computer to use. When I set it to the Intel card, I’m all of a sudden in the 6 to 7 hour battery range. Considering Apple’s 8-9 hour target is with WiFi turned off, this seems about right.
I haven’t tried with with only the NVIDIA card turned on, but from my understanding, it should be only slightly worse. Again, the issue seems to be the constant switching, not the cards themselves.
I imagine Apple will have to fix this in a future firmware upgrade. Based on my research, I’m hardly alone with this problem — graphic switching is giving these machines less than half their stated battery life.