High Battery Drain on Macbook Pro

I recently moved back to a Macbook Pro, and couldn’t be happier. Don’t get me wrong, for what I was using my Microsoft Surface 3 Pro, it did it brilliantly. It is extremely portable and very fast, an amazing device. Unfortunately it is not built to run virtual machines as it grinds to a stop (I know I know, the newer versions of these fantastic machines CAN handle virtual machines, but mine wasn’t that high spec’d).

Previous to my Surface 3 Pro, I was using a Macbook Pro 13 inch (non-retina) and it served me well. However, my current Macbook is a Mabook Pro 15 inch (retina) and with dual Graphics card. It is amazing. With 16GB of RAM, and an i7 processor, it handles anything I throw at it. And the graphics is breath taking, a 4K resolution on a laptop!

However, one of my gripes from day one has been the high battery drain I had been experiencing. Comparing battery life with my colleagues, I found out that while their Macbook Pros would last for at least 5 hours with 100% charge, mine would die in under 3 hours! This either meant that I had been shuffled a defective device by lady luck, or there was some setting I was unaware of. I decided to use the latter of the possible causes and started my investigations.

macOS Sierra (and previous versions) have a native “task manager” called Activity Monitor. This is an amazing utility, as it not only tells you about your CPU and Memory usage, but also shows the impact each application has on your battery.

After viewing the applications under the Energy tab for a few minutes, I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary, however there was something peculiar happening with the Graphics Card. The High Performance Graphics card was always in use. From what I had previously read, the high performance graphics card on Macbook Pro’s is extremely power hungry, which could explain my high battery drain.

ActivityMonitor_Energy_GraphicsCard

Using Dr. Google I found some articles, which stated that if Automatic graphics switching is disabled under Energy Saver in System Preferences, macOS will use the high performance Graphics Card 100% of the time. I quickly checked my settings and the Automatic graphics switching was unticked!

SystemPreferences_EnergySaver

SystemPreferences_EnergySaver_AutomaticGraphicsCard

I placed a tick beside Automatic graphics switching and then went back to the Activity Monitor utility. This time it showed the Graphics Card as Integrated 🙂

ActivityMonitor_Energy_Graphics_Integrated

I then proceeded to run my Macbook on battery, keeping an eye on the battery. This time around, the battery didn’t drain as quickly, and the fan noise that I had previously been experiencing (due to the High Performance Graphics card being used) wasn’t present anymore.

I hope this helps others who might be experiencing similar issues with their battery usage. Do note that this is a possible solution for all Macbook Pro’s that have dual Graphics Card but not applicable to those that have only one.

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