Best laptops for longest battery life in 2020
By Michael Passingham
Get the best battery life from your laptop with our list of the longest-lasting notebooks and top battery-saving tips.
Follow our tips for improving battery life and take a look at our list of the best laptops for battery life at a variety of price points.
Do you have battery anxiety whenever you take your laptop away from the mains? You’re not alone. Our most recent laptop reliability survey found that the most common fault with a laptop was related to battery, either not charging at all or seeing a significant drop in longevity over a short period of time.
Fret not if you think you may have a battery problem; follow our tips below to see if you can eke out a few more hours out of your laptop. We also roundup top-rated laptops for battery, and look at which manufacturers you can trust when it comes to battery claims vs reality.
In this article
- The best laptops for battery life
- Manufacturer battery claims: Fact vs fiction
- Does spending more get you more?
- Battery saving tips
Below you’ll find five of the longest-lasting laptops we’ve tested in recent months that are available to buy right now. Only logged-in Which? members can view the products featured in the tablet below. Sign up now to become a Which? member.
Best laptops for battery life
The manufacturer claims a lofty 25 hours of video playback battery life. In fact, our test lab found it was 17 hours 30 minutes, which is still remarkable and one of the best results we’ve ever seen. It managed 12 hours 28 minutes on average of web browsing over a wi-fi connection - again, extremely impressive.
This thin and light laptop is up there with the most expensive models we've tested in 2019. It's a lovely laptop, with a good screen and solid build quality, and it's fast, too. Look out for deals around Black Friday to see if you can make some serious savings.
If you’re looking for a laptop for less than £400, look no further than this one. It has a thin and lightweight design, a Full HD screen and performance that’s good enough for all your daily computing tasks. What’s more, it’s the cheapest Best Buy we’ve tested in almost three years. Read our full review for the verdict on this budget machine.
Laptop manufacturers and testers use what’s called benchmarking to create a standard set of tests. This means different models of laptop can be compared under identical testing conditions. But as manufacturers have their own ways of testing, battery life claims can only be used to compare models from the same brand, not from models across different brands.
That, plus the fact that the claims almost never match reality, means these figures can only be used as a very rough guide at best. That’s why reviews are so valuable. We run a full battery test at least three times on every laptop model so that we can obtain an accurate result, including tests involving web browsing performance and video playback. As you can see, results were far from consistent.
You might think spending more gives you a better chance of good battery life. However, based on laptops reviewed in the last year, we found that very cheap laptops often manage better battery life than their more expensive alternatives, and mid-range laptops between £200 and £500 often provided some quite disappointing scores.
Sample: Laptops tested in the year to January 2019
From this, we can learn that there’s no strict pattern in paying more for a laptop and getting better battery life; it takes a proper lab test of a laptop’s battery to find out if it’s likely to manage what you need it to.
For all laptops:
- Change your screen brightness. One of the biggest battery life drains on any laptop is the screen. That's why many laptops automatically dim their screens when you unplug them from the mains. When you next unplug, see how low you can drop the screen brightness while still ensuring text is legible, so you don’t have to strain your eyes. You can normally get away with a lower screen brightness when indoors, but if you’re working outdoors away from the mains you might still need to increase the brightness level.
- Focus on the task at hand. It’s great to have a laptop with the power to open lots of web browser tabs and programs, but this will take its toll on your battery life, especially in these modern days of webpages filled with ads and self-playing videos. Close web browser tabs and programs you’re not actively using.
- Use Airplane mode. If you’re doing work that doesn’t require an internet connection, switching to your laptop’s wireless functionality – wi-fi and Bluetooth – could be a big help.
Battery saving on Windows laptops:
Windows 10’s battery settings have improved significantly in the past two years and there are loads of settings you can change to improve battery life.
- The battery menu on the bottom-right of the screen is the best place to start. First, unplug your laptop. Then left-click on the menu and you’ll find basic options straight away.
- You can adjust screen brightness by clicking the brightness button, and sliding the power vs performance slider all the way to the left will slow your computer down a little, but will also mean it consumes less power when not plugged in.
- You can also see which apps are consuming battery power, including those you might not be aware of. Click on Battery Settings and then ‘See which apps are affecting your battery life’ to see any programs you can close or uninstall to improve your battery life.
Battery saving on MacBooks:
Recent macOS updates have improved battery life and power management on MacBook devices. Make sure your computer is fully updated so you can access the settings you need.
- Clicking on the battery icon in the top-right corner will reveal extra features for monitoring and improving battery life. Any applications using significant amounts of energy will be displayed in this menu. This might help to diagnose poor battery performance.
- Turning off your keyboard’s backlight can eke out a few crucial extra minutes of power. You can find this in the System Preferences menu.
- If you’ve had your Mac for a long time, battery problems might be down to the age of the equipment. Apple’s website (support.apple.com/en-gb/HT201585) shows how long batteries in MacBook models will last before reaching the point where they should be replaced.
Ready to take the next step? Find out how to buy the best laptop.