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Thursday, September 29, 2022

Apple’s MacBook Pro M2 sent me on a trip to drain its battery

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My review of the M2 MacBook Pro went out last Wednesday. But once I got my hands on the device the previous Thursday, it was clear that battery drain — one of the most important things a laptop reviewer should do — was going to be a big deal.

Reader, I’ve tried. I would use the device all evening and leave it running all night, but it would still have enough charge in the morning, and I would have to plug it in for testing, leave it for filming or give it to our video and photo teams to shoot before I could completely empty it. I didn’t have long enough interrupted time to use the device continuously. This is how absurdly long this laptop lasts.

But, with the written review and the video review both live, and a solid evening and the following morning with no plans or commitments, last Thursday gave me my first real uninterrupted time off since the review unit arrived. When I got home and finished dinner around 7:30 PM, I decided it was time. I was going to kill this thing. I would drain this stupid battery to zero if it was the last thing I did.

Do some household chores quickly. First off, this isn’t the official battery life estimate I’ll end up updating the review with. That will be based on multiple studies, and hopefully many that aren’t as… weird as what I did here. (That said, our battery life test is always a margin estimate, and I’ve never pretended it to be something else. Never consider one review as your only data point, etc. etc.)

The MacBook Pro M2 just sits there, taunting me that I won’t be able to drain its battery in a reasonable amount of time.
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Second, while I really wanted to kill this battery, I must emphasize that I always want my battery tests to reflect mine personal workload – so while there are certainly intense things I could have done to drain the battery faster, I made sure I wasn’t artificially doing something ridiculous here and sticking to programs and tasks that I actually would in a real day (albeit a more intense real day, in parts).

Anyway, I took the thing down. And I kept a little journal of the process, which I’m sharing here. I hope this will give you an idea of ​​the various things I did on the device while draining it, and some insight into how fast it could drain if you have a workload similar to mine. That said, it’s my personal and private journal, so please don’t tell anyone about it.

8:00 pm: I’m in for the night. I have about a dozen tabs open. I have the screen on medium brightness, with True Tone off. I have Spotify with “Chill Pop” playlist. The battery is at 100 percent. Unplug. Let’s go.

8:20 p.m.: Still at 100 percent. I check again if the battery meter is working. It’s getting dark outside, so I turn on the night light. Don’t judge me, I care about my eyes, you monsters.

20:25: The internet is boring. I’m retrieving a short story I’m working on, a Google Doc of about 20 pages. God, I love how fast this thing loads Google Docs. I have a dozen other tabs open.

8:30 IN THE EVENING: My friends, we are still at 100 percent. Consider letting a character die in my short story, because if this laptop isn’t going to die, someone has to. I decide against it.

9:00 am: We are at 98 percent. The fear that this thing could last 50 hours gives me legitimate stress. Like, my Garmin Venu tells me to chillax.

A screenshot of the battery meter on the MacBook Pro showing 100%.

Challenge accepted.

9:30 pm: 95 percent. “I don’t think this thing will ever die lol,” iMessage a friend. “Lol wow,” my friend replies. 9:30 pm is our intellectual time to shine.

21:45: 91 percent. The “Chill Pop” playlist has run its course. I continue with “Today’s Hits”. Stay by The Kid Laroi and Justin Bieber begins to play. Oh yeah. Today’s hits.

10:15 pm: I run into a wall with my story, but I leave the Google Doc open in case inspiration strikes. I start to run PugetBench for Premiere Pro just to feel something. It’s strangely therapeutic to have the benchmark take full control of my computer and try to figure out what ridiculous things it’s doing. Is anything in life really in our hands? Aren’t we all obscure GPU effects thrown randomly in Premiere footage in some way?

10.30 pm: This is around when the Gigabyte Aero 16 would die. However, the MacBook is still very much alive. Anyway, I feel like I’m clearly not taxing this thing hard enough, so I’m looking around for things that may need updating. Some of my Adobe apps are outdated, so I disabled those downloads. I wanted to familiarize myself with After Effects, so I’m playing with that a bit.

23:59: 78 percent. Well, I still don’t understand how to do anything in After Effects, but at least I tried. I also got through “Today’s Hits”. Creative Suite has finished updating, so I open all the apps I have at once to see if it slows down the computer. Of course it doesn’t. I’m messing around in Lightroom with some photos that I could (but probably never) upload to Instagram, as people do.

A screenshot of a Spotify playlist of Today's Top Hits.

A true musical journey.

12:15 pm: I’m doing some Swift Playgrounds 4 because I can’t get over how cute the little animations are. I’m doing a Rosetta Stone class with Swift Playgrounds 4 in the background. Listen, therapist, you can’t say I’m not working on myself. The screen is starting to feel way too bright, but don’t worry: I’ll kill my eyes for the blogs.

12:26: 73 percent. I have no more things to do. I watch old K-pop videos on YouTube. “What if we went to Lollapalooza?” I’m sending an iMessage to a friend. “We’re not going to Lollapalooza,” the friend responds.

12:47 pm: I went back to the short story. I’m very tired, so it’s getting a little weird. I’m starting to download some more Adobe software because you might as well get big. I have no idea what Bridge is, but I’m sure I can find a use for it.

2:13AM: 63 percent. Call it a night. I’m leaving a YouTube video (“Fireplace 10 hours Full HD“, one of my favorites, the vibes are impeccable) and the Spotify playlist “Chill Hits”. Please die, I think about the device as I fall asleep with it next to my head. It’s in God’s hands now.

8:15 am: I wake up because there’s construction going on outside, which is the New York City 4-D experience. The MacBook Pro is still doing well at 36 percent. I start PugetBench to give it something to do and go back to sleep (I have the morning off).

10:26: I wake up again, this time because I’m stressed that I made a mistake in a draft I submitted yesterday. This is just something I’m concerned about. I grab the draft and read it through. No mistake. Crisis averted. Back to bed. Laptop at 21 percent, several things still running.

11:40 am: I wake up for the last time and it’s the first thing my blurry eyes see: the red battery. That glorious, glorious red. Red, the blood of laptop reviewers who are running out of battery life. The laptop is at 9 percent. We’re all so close. So close to.

11:42: Time to kill this thing. I open Slack. I keep popping Spotify. I open three different email tabs, some blog posts, a video, iMessage, Sticky Notes, Lightroom. I’m starting to download a game on Steam. I’m working on my review from another computer and clicking around a whole bunch of other reviews covered in ads. It will die any moment nowI think, in view of the red battery meter.

12:30 pm: Well, the last part takes a lot longer than I thought. But after 16 hours, 30 minutes and 39 seconds, the M2 MacBook Pro is ready. It died while playing Tomorrow X Together’s Can’t you see me? music video, as they set fire to a building. There should be a metaphor somewhere, but I’m too tired to find it.

Don’t worry – I’ll run it a few more times to give you a more rigorous result.

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