My review of the M2 MacBook Pro went up last Wednesday. But as soon as I got my hands on the device on the prior Thursday, it was clear that running down the battery — one of the most important things a laptop reviewer needs to do — was going to be a Whole Thing.
Reader, I tried. I would use the device all evening and leave it running all night, but it would still have plenty of charge left in the morning, and I’d have to plug it in for testing, abandon it to film, or give it to our video and photo teams for shooting before I could fully drain it down. I did not have a long enough interrupted span of time to continuously use the device. That’s how absurdly long this laptop lasts.
But, with the written review and the video review both live, and a solid evening and subsequent morning with no plans or obligations, last Thursday gave me my first real uninterrupted free time since the review unit had arrived. I decided, when I got home and finished dinner around 7:30PM, that it was time. I was going to kill this thing. I was going to drain this stupid battery down to zero if it was the last thing I did.
I was going to drain this battery if it was the last thing I did
Quickly, some housekeeping. First, this is not the official battery life estimate with which I will ultimately be updating the review. That will be based on multiple trials, and hopefully many that are not as... weird as what I did here. (That said, our battery life test is always a ballpark estimate, and I’ve never pretended it’s anything else. Never treat one review as your only data point, etc. etc.)
Second, while I did really want to kill this battery, I should emphasize that I always want my battery tests to reflect my personal workload — so while there are certainly intense things I could’ve done to kill the battery more quickly, I did take care here not to artificially run anything ridiculous and to stick with programs and tasks that I would actually do on a real day (albeit a more intense real day, in parts).
Anyway, I did run the thing down. And I kept a little diary of the process, which I’m sharing here. This, I hope, will give you some idea of the various things I did on the device as I drained it, and some insight into how fast it might drain if you’re running a workload similar to mine. That said, it is my personal and private diary, so please don’t tell anyone about it.
8:00PM: I am in for the night. I’ve got around a dozen tabs open. I’ve got the screen at medium brightness, with True Tone off. I’ve got Spotify running the “Chill Pop” playlist. The battery is at 100 percent. Unplug. Let’s roll.
8:20PM: Still at 100 percent. I double check to make sure the battery meter is working. It’s getting dark out, so I turn on night light. Don’t judge me, I care about my eyes, you monsters.
8:25PM: The internet is boring. I pull up a short story I’m working on, which is a Google Doc that’s around 20 pages. God, I love how fast this thing loads Google Docs. I’ve still got around a dozen other tabs open.
8:30PM: My friends, we are still at 100 percent. Considering having a character die in my short story, because if this laptop won’t die, somebody’s gotta. I decide against it.
9:00PM: We are at 98 percent. The fear that this thing could last 50 hours is giving me legitimate stress. Like, my Garmin Venu is telling me to chillax.
9:30PM: 95 percent. “I don’t think this thing is ever going to die lol,” I iMessage a friend. “Lol wow,” my friend replies. 9:30PM is our intellectual time to shine.
9:45PM: 91 percent. The “Chill Pop” playlist has run its course. I move on to “Today’s Hits”. Stay by The Kid Laroi and Justin Bieber begins playing. Ah, yes. Today’s’ hits.
10:15PM: Hitting a wall with my story, but I leave the Google Doc open in case inspiration strikes. I start running PugetBench for Premiere Pro just to feel something. It’s oddly therapeutic to give the benchmark full control of my computer and try to figure out what ridiculous things it’s doing. Is anything in life really in our hands? Are we not all obscure GPU effects being thrown at random Premiere footage, in a way?
10:30PM: This is around when the Gigabyte Aero 16 would be dying. The MacBook, though, is still very much alive. Anyway, I feel like I’m clearly not taxing this thing hard enough, so I look around for things that might need to be updated. Some of my Adobe apps are out of date, so I set those downloads off. I’ve been wanting to familiarize myself with After Effects, so I play around with that for a bit.
11:59PM: 78 percent. Well, I still don’t understand how to do anything in After Effects, but at least I tried. I’ve also gotten through “Today’s Hits”. Creative Suite is done updating, so I open all the apps I have at once just to see if it will slow the computer down. It doesn’t, of course. I mess around in Lightroom with some photos that I might (but probably will not ever) upload to Instagram, as one does.
12:15PM: I do some Swift Playgrounds 4 because I can’t get over how cute the little animations are. I do a Rosetta Stone lesson with Swift Playgrounds 4 running in the background. Look, 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 will kill my eyes for the sake of the blogs.
12:26AM: 73 percent. I’ve run out of things to do. I am watching old K-pop videos on YouTube. “What if we went to Lollapalooza?” I iMessage a friend. “We are not going to Lollapalooza,” the friend responds.
12:47AM: I’ve wandered back to the short story. I’m very tired, so it’s getting a bit weird. I start downloading some more Adobe software, because you might as well go big. I have no idea what Bridge is, but I’m sure I can find a use for it.
2:13AM: 63 percent. Calling it a night. I leave a YouTube video (“Fireplace 10 Hours Full HD”, one of my favorites, the vibes are immaculate) running as well as the “Chill Hits” Spotify playlist. Please die, I think at the device, as I fall asleep with it beside my head. It’s in God’s hands now.
8:15AM: I wake up because construction is going on outside, which is the New York City 4-D experience. The MacBook Pro is still going strong at 36 percent. I start PugetBench to give it something to do and go back to sleep (I have the morning off).
10:26AM: I wake up again, this time because I’m stressed that I made a mistake in a draft I filed yesterday. This is just a thing I worry about. I pull up the draft and read through it. No mistake. Crisis averted. Back to bed. Laptop at 21 percent, various things still running.
Red, the blood of laptop reviewers who have almost, almost completed their battery run
11:40AM: I wake up for the final time, and it’s the first thing my bleary eyes see: The red battery. That glorious, glorious red. Red, the blood of laptop reviewers who have almost, almost completed their battery run. The laptop is at 9 percent. We are so close, everyone. So close.
11:42AM: Time to kill this thing dead. I open Slack. I keep Spotify blasting. I open three different email tabs, a bunch of blog posts, a video, iMessage, Sticky Notes, Lightroom. I start downloading a game on Steam. I work on my review of another computer, clicking around a whole bunch of other reviews that are covered in ads. It’s going to die any minute now, I think, with an eye on the red battery meter.
12:30PM: Well, the final stretch takes a lot longer than I thought it would. But after 16 hours, 30 minutes, and 39 seconds, the M2 MacBook Pro is done for. It died in the middle of playing Tomorrow X Together’s Can’t You See Me music video, right as they’re setting a building on fire. There should be a metaphor in there somewhere, but I’m too tired to find it.
Don’t worry — I’ll run it down a few more times to get you a more rigorous result.