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It should come as no surprise that battery life is one of the key things we look for in a laptop. What is surprising is which laptop brands and models take the top spots. They're not always the usual suspects. 

Why are we so obsessed with battery life? More than screen size, processing power or number of ports, it's the first thing many laptop buyers think about before making a purchase, whether it's school laptops, business laptops or gaming laptops. After all, you don't want your PC shutting down in the middle of a Netflix binge or while taking notes in a long lecture class, and carrying around a battery backup is just a hassle.

Top performers

# Name Hours:Minutes Minutes
1 Asus ExpertBook B9450F 16:29 989
2 LG Gram 14 16:03 963
3 LG Gram 17 16:17 779
4 Samsung Notebook 9 Pro 12:30 750
5 Dell XPS 13 9300 11:26 686
6 HP Elite Dragonfly 11:26 686
7 Lenovo Yoga C940-14IIL 11:15 675
8 Lenovo C740-14IML 11:12 672
9 HP Spectre x360 13-AW0013dx 10:38 638
10 Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch 2019 10:32 632
11 Dell XPS 13 7390 2-in-1 10:07 607
12 Acer Swift SF714-52T 9:50 590
13 Lenovo Yoga C940-15IRH 9:44 584
14 Huawei Matebook Pro X 9:31 571
15 Acer Aspire 1 A115-31 9:05 545
16 Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 8:58 538
17 Acer Aspire 5 A515-54 8:38 518
18 Microsoft Surface Pro 7 8:34 514
19 HP Spectre x360 15 (OLED) 8:34 514
20 Dell XPS 15 9500 (2020) 8:14 494
21 Dell G5 5590 8:10 490
22 Lenovo Ideapad 730S 8:08 488
23 Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019) 8:02 482
24 MSI Prestige 15 A10SC 7:57 477
25 Acer Aspire 7 A715-74G-71WS 7:56 476

While at one time Apple's MacBooks (the MacBook Air and the Apple MacBook Pro) controlled much of the top of this chart, the current winner comes from an unexpected place: Asus' ExpertBook B9450F. The company's ultralight business laptop comes in at over 16 hours.

LG's Gram series is best known for being very light, and the 14-inch LG Gram 14 is no exception at 2.5 pounds (even slim 15-inch laptops are usually over 4 pounds). But besides that, it ran for over 16 hours, which is exceptionally good. Part of the secret is that a larger 15-inch body just has room for a larger battery along with the larger screen and larger keyboard. Dell squeaks into the top 5 with the XPS 13.

So many factors go into determining a laptop's battery life that it's hard to predict in advance how different laptops or different models of the same laptop will last based on specs (e.g., keyboard, hard drive, Retina display, number of USB ports, fingerprint reader) or price. How the manufacturer implements power-saving measures for the processor, screen, networking and peripherals can have a big impact, for example, in addition to the usual suspects. And how you use it has the biggest effect: Bingeing video is an obvious drain, but so is running the CPU at top speed for crunching numbers or keeping the screen brightness cranked all the way up.

However, there are a few rules of thumb when it comes to selecting a device that will last you all day:

  • The brighter and higher the resolution of the screen, the more power it uses. So the typical 1,920x1,080-pixel screen on a sub-$500 laptop uses a lot less power than the flashy 4K, 500-nit display on a pricier model.
  • For Intel Core processors, the Y series uses less power than U which uses less power than H, and newer CPUs tend to have more battery optimizations than older ones.
  • Discrete graphics are more battery-intensive than integrated.
  • A backlit keyboard may have a small impact.
  • LPDDR memory uses less power than standard DDR -- the "LP" stands for "low power," after all -- and a device with this type of memory will have longer battery life.
  • Gaming is the most common of the big battery-draining activities you can inflict on your laptop.
  • You can also extend the battery life of your device by adjusting settings like making it go to sleep or turn off the display after a smaller interval and reducing the display brightness.

And keep in mind, battery life isn't everything. The Snapdragon-based Asus NovaGo lasts all day, for example, but we still felt it made too many compromises to get there.

Based on the extensive battery testing conducted in the CNET Labs, these are the PCs with the longest battery-life scores that we've seen over 2018 and 2019. The top five current performers are below, and a full list of the top 25 can be found below the five leaders.  

Now playing: Watch this: LG's lightweight Gram 14 2-in-1 is a battery-life leader
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Our master list includes Windows and MacOS laptops, Windows two-in-one hybrids and Chromebooks running Google's Chrome OS. Not included are Android or iOS tablets.

The specific test used here streams a private video over Wi-Fi on an endless loop (no web browsing or anything else that would make our testing inconsistent). Note that these scores reflect the specific configurations we tested, and that screen resolution and CPU choice are some of the major factors that affect battery life. 

Lori Grunin/CNET

A featherweight 14-inch laptop with great battery life, though the trade-off is performance. Read our Asus ExpertBook B9450 review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The LG Gram 14 laptop is an ultralight pen-enabled convertible with extraordinary battery life for its class, plus it's really, really light (just 2.5 pounds). Read our LG Gram 14 2-in-1 review.

Joshua Goldman/CNET

Incredibly thin and light for a 17-incher, its battery life is great -- for a price. Read our LG Gram 17 (2020) review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

It's not the most exciting design out there, but the 2019 Samsung Notebook 9 Pro is a slim, lightweight two-in-one with extra-long battery life, plus strong performance for its size. Read our Samsung Notebook 9 Pro (13-inch, 2019) review.

Dan Ackerman/CNET

With a slightly bigger screen and smaller body, the new XPS 13 still manages to attain terrific battery life. Read our Dell XPS 13 (2020) review.

For the rest of our top battery life performers, see the full list here

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