The Real Solution to the MacBook Pro Battery Life Problem

This post has little to do with photography (except that I use a MacBook Pro for all my computing, including photography and videography). However, this little nugget of information made a huge difference to me, and perhaps others will find this helpful as well.

Many people have problems with the battery life on newer MacBook Pro laptop computers. Instead of getting 6 or 8 hours as advertised, they might get 2 or 3, or perhaps even less. My boss called me a few days ago and said his brand new laptop’s battery ran out after 1 hour 40 minutes on the plane.

There are endless discussion threads about this online, but I finally found the crucial bit hidden deep inside one of them. The problem is the automated switching between two graphics cards. The more powerful of the two (“discrete”) is very power hungry and will make the laptop rather hot and drain the battery very quickly indeed.

For the astonishingly simple solution, read this article and then download the free app gfxCardStatus.

After installing it, switching to “Integrated Only” and watching a bit what programs are running needlessly in the background, my battery lasts indeed for 6 to 8 hours (instead of 2 or 3), and the laptop doesn’t get nearly as hot (the temperature reading at the CPU has dropped from about 150 F to 100F or less).

By the way, I find iStat Menus from Bjango a most useful tool for all kinds of system monitoring, such as CPU, memory, network, temperatures, fan speeds, and so on. However, it does cost $16.

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