Battery life won’t be a problem for AMD’s Ryzen 4000 notebooks

AMD’s upcoming Ryzen 4000 mobile CPUs are expected to leave Intel’s laptop processors in about 7nm of dust when they’re released. But what hasn’t been confirmed is just how well AMD’s new Ryzen 4000 CPUs will compete on the most important number for many laptop users: battery life. It’s worth digging into, as battery life has been an Achilles heel for Ryzen in notebooks thus far.

On Monday, AMD finally unveiled battery numbers that it claims make it competitive with Intel’s best and brightest in unplugged run time—and advocated for a new way to look at testing.

The upcoming Lenovo Slim 7 is expected to hit 18 hours of runtime with the 8-core Ryzen 7 4800U inside. That figure, which company veep Rick Bergman alluded to at AMD’s financial analyst day, is achieved in standard video rundown tests and in the industry standard MobileMark 2014 test made by BAPCo.

BAPCO’s MobileMark

You may be surprised AMD is using BAPCo’s MobileMark, considering its well-documented antipathy toward the organization. AMD officials told us it just recognizes the reality that the vast majority of battery life metrics that PC makers publish are based on MobileMark 2014.

For its comparison, AMD said the Lenovo Slim 7 was configured with a 14-inch 1080p screen and 60-watt battery. AMD also tested a Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 7390 with Intel’s 10nm Core i7-1065G7, a 13.2-inch screen, and 50-watt-hour battery, which hit 16 hours and 58 minutes in MobileMark 2014. The comparison isn’t perfect because of the display and battery differences, but AMD said there wasn’t a 13-inch laptop with similar battery capacities among its partners’ designs.

AMD’s take on battery life

So yes, on a test that AMD doesn’t really believe in, and that has long been seen as over-inflating battery life claims, Ryzen 4000 does just great. But rather than continue using MobileMark 2014, AMD is hoping to change how we all measure it.

The problem, AMD said, is everyone uses a laptop differently. Video playback is a light load, gaming is a heavy load, idling is a super-light load, and web browsing and productivity are moderate loads.

In battery life benchmarks, MobileMark 2014 is a very light load by design (AMD engineers told PCWorld that even though MobileMark 2018 has replaced MobileMark 2014, few PC vendors want to adopt the new test because it’s more stringent, and would lower their battery life estimates.)

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