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Tests Show OS X Mountain Lion May be Causing MacBook Battery Life Issues

Posted in Apple, News, OS X on 09/08/2012 by Chris Hauk

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Following numerous messages posted in the Apple Support Communities, a report this week offers anecdotal evidence that the new OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion may indeed be causing battery life issues for some MacBook users.

Ars Technica:

Some bit of software within Mountain Lion indeed appears to noticeably reduce battery life for Apple’s portable Macs. Following on numerous reports lodged in Apple’s support forums, we did some additional testing using our Retina MacBook Pro review unit, which seemed to lose approximately 38 percent of its previous 8-hour runtime after installing Mountain Lion.

Ars reports that Apple support technicians are continuing to gather evidence from users, although at least one user has been told that an update from the Mac App Store should address the issue.

Numerous MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air users have been reporting that the battery life of their systems has been significantly lower after installing Mountain Lion on their machines. In some cases, they report seeing nearly half the battery life that was previously reported with Lion. The batteries seemed to drain faster, despite the system reporting that capacity was the same.

Potential fixes have been reported, such as repairing disk permissions or access control lists, disabling or reinstalling Dropbox, or resetting GateKeeper to allow apps to install from any source. None of the “fixes” seem to be working across the board.

“Our own testing revealed similar (and significant) drops in battery runtime after installing Mountain Lion. In previous tests, we were able to regularly achieve just over 8 hours of use by relying solely on our Retina MacBook Pro’s integrated Intel HD4000 GPU. Performing the same “real-world” test using the same software applications and usage pattern, we never got the Retina MacBook Pro to run for more than a few minutes past 5 hours after a full charge.” Reports Ars.

While the test method is not strictly scientific, and your mileage may vary, Ars said they performed the test several times, and got similar results each time. The test machine was used for a normal daily workload, “with Safari, Chrome, Twitter, iChat, Colloquy, TextEdit, Photoshop, Skitch, Mail, and Outlook running, as well as a few background processes like Dropbox and gfxCardStatus. WiFi was turned on, the machine was located in the same office as my Airport Extreme base station, and Bluetooth was turned off. Screen brightness was set to half (8/16 “pips” or “dots” on the brightness indicator) as in previous testing.

One Apple Support forum user, stevo_c, said he was contacted by Apple and said, “I can confirm this is definitely a software (OS) issue, as the guy that was dealing with me said that an update will be issued via the [Mac App Store] as soon as they can work a fix.”

Apple did not confirm that a fix was on the way.



Author

Chris Hauk

MacTrast Senior Editor, and self-described "magnificent bastard," Chris Hauk owns Phoenix Rising Services and writes for everyone's favorite "bad movie" website, Big Bad Drive-In.

His first Apple product was an iPod Classic 5 years ago, and he has since added a MacBook Pro, iPad, iPhone, and 2 Apple TVs to his collection.

He lives somewhere in the deep Southern part of America. Yes, he has to pump in both sunshine, and the Internet.

Don't forget to check out Chris' two latest endeavors, as the "Apple Expert" at Answers.com, and his own personal tech blog at chrishauk.com