This app is killing your laptop’s battery – CNET

Google’s Chrome browser is a notorious resource hog. It eats memory for breakfast and can kill your laptop’s battery before lunch. Google is making improvements so Chrome uses less memory and power, but it still has room to grow in my experience.

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Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

I use an old MacBook Pro as my primary work computer, and I conduct most of my work inside the Chrome browser. And as I work, Chrome crushes my battery as it heats up my MacBook, causing the cooling fans to kick on constantly. I don’t like the design of Safari so I continue to dance with the one who brought me. Old habits, they say, die hard.

Since I’m sticking it out with Chrome despite the browser’s voracious appetite for CPU, memory and battery resources, I need to find a way to curb its behavior. Here are three ways to improve Chrome’s glutenous approach to system resources:

1. Identify and eradicate offending tabs and extensions

The more tabs and extensions you have running in Chrome, the more resources it consumes. Before you start closing tabs all willy nilly, take a look at Chrome’s built-in task manager to see which tabs are using the most CPU and memory resources. It also shows how much Chrome uses as a whole, as well as as any extensions you have running.

To open Chrome’s Task Manager, click the hamburger button to the right of Chrome’s URL bar. Next, choose More Tools and then Task Manager.


Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

The small Task Manager window shows fluctuating percentages for each open tab and extension you have running in terms of CPU and memory usage. Highlight a tab or an extension and click the End Process to kill any egregious resource hog and reclaim some CPU and memory overhead.

2. Experiment with hardware acceleration

Buried in Chrome’s settings is a way to enable hardware acceleration, which may or may not improve Chrome’s performance on your computer. Hardware acceleration allows the CPU to offload some page-rendering and -loading tasks to your system’s GPU.

There is some debate on whether hardware acceleration helps or harms performance. I don’t find it does much of anything, but perhaps it’ll help your system run Chrome more effectively. Plus, it’s worth investigating to see if you have hardware acceleration enabled or not.


Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET
  • To find the setting, click the hamburger button to the right of Chrome’s URL bar and click Settings.
  • Scroll down to the bottom of the Settings page and click Show advanced settings.
  • Scroll down to the System section and check (or uncheck) the box for Use hardware acceleration when available.
  • Restart Chrome.

Again, your mileage may vary with hardware acceleration, but it’s worth checking out to see if you are better of with or without it.

3. Hit the reset button

If all else fails, you can reset Chrome and return the browser to its default settings. Resetting Chrome doesn’t wipe everything out; your bookmarks, browsing history and saved passwords are not reset. What you will lose in resetting Chrome is your start page, new tab page, pinned tabs and default search engine (if it’s not Google).

The Reset button is directly below the hardware acceleration setting on the advanced settings page. Click the Reset settings button and then click Reset to confirm your intention.

In related news, Opera has a new Power Saver feature to extend battery life.

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