How Ditching Chrome For Opera Will Improve Your Battery Life

Matthew Hughes 23-06-2016

We’ve all been there. You’re on a plane, and after three hours your laptop – which is certified to last seven hours when disconnected from the mains – is almost drained, and you have no idea why.


It’s a new laptop, so your battery shouldn’t be damaged. You’re just browsing Reddit from the in-flight Wi-Fi Is In-Flight Wi-Fi Worth It? What to Know Before Wasting Money on It More airlines are starting to offer in-flight Wi-Fi, but is it worth such exorbitant prices? Here's what you need to know. Read More and catching up on Facebook; not mining bitcoin or editing video, or anything that’s guaranteed to make your CPU heat up and your fans to spin faster. What’s going on?

There’s a chance your browser might be the problem – specifically Google Chrome, which is notorious for being resource hungry 3 Quick Tips to Reduce Chrome's CPU Usage & Battery Drain Is Chrome using too much CPU and draining your battery? There may be a way for you to reduce its impact. Read More . Thankfully, the latest version of Opera might have the solution, with its built-in battery saver mode. Here’s what you need to know.

Meet Opera’s Battery Saving Mode

The latest version of Opera is a tour-de-force in browsing excellence. Seriously, it’s good. But we’ll get to that later.

First, let’s explore how to use Opera’s battery saver mode. It’s really easy. If you haven’t already, download and install Opera. It’s free, and it takes about two minutes.

Once opened, click Menu, and then Settings (or press Alt + P on Windows). Then under ‘Power Saver’, check the box that says ‘Always show power saver icon’.



A battery icon will then appear by the address bar. Click that, and then turn battery saver mode on.


According to Opera, they were able to create battery saving mode by making several sensible under-the-hood optimizations. The frame-rate of videos has been limited to 30 frames per second, and rather than using inefficient video codecs, it mandates the use of hardware accelerated codecs. It also reduces the impact of superfluous plugins by disabling ones that aren’t presently in use. It also pauses the animation of browser themes, and changes the way JavaScript code is executed to reduce the burden put upon the CPU.


These all sound great in theory, but how does it work in practice?

Road-Testing Battery Saving Mode

Opera have some very big things to say about their new battery saving mode. According to the Norwegian company, it can improve battery longevity by as much a 49%, as demonstrated by the video below.

It doesn’t stop there. Since Opera’s battery saving mode reduces the amount of overall CPU usage, it will also make your laptop run cooler and quieter. According to Opera, it can reduce the operating temperature of your laptop by as much as three degrees Celsius.

I wasn’t prepared to take Opera’s word for it though. I charged up my laptop – a relatively new Acer Aspire R 2-in-1 convertible, with an SSD, 8GB of RAM, and a Skylake CPU – and in Chrome, I opened ten different taps. These consisted of the following:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Two MakeUseOf articles
  • Two YouTube videos in 720p resolution
  • One Reddit thread
  • One Hacker News thread
  • One Guardian article
  • One Buzzfeed article

Almost immediately, the Windows Task Manager 10 Windows Task Manager Tricks You Probably Didn't Know Here are handy Task Manager tricks every Windows user should know, including how to bring up the Task Manager quickly and more! Read More lit up like Blackpool Lights, as my CPU went into overdrive. Google Chrome is extremely RAM-hungry too, and around 75% of my memory was consumed. As for my battery, what typically lasts me for as much as 8 hours (far beyond the seven hours advertised) when watching movies and typing out documents, ended up lasting for just 4 hours and 59 minutes.

I switched to Opera. Almost immediately, I noticed a difference. My battery life soared to 5 hours and 50 minutes. That’s just short of an extra hour’s worth of battery life.

I know people who have replaced their mechanical hard drives with SSDs 5 Things You Should Consider When Buying An SSD The world of home computing is moving towards solid state drives for storage. Should you buy one? Read More , and doubled their RAM to get that kind of performance boost. I got it by making a relatively minor switch to my browser.

I wanted to make sure that was I was seeing wasn’t a fluke, so I tried it on my Mac. This is the 2012 MacBook Pro, which is already showing its age. It has a 500GB mechanical hard drive, and 16GB, and an IvyBridge i5 CPU.


After opening Google Chrome and the ten test tabs, my MacBook Pro’s fans started whirring like the engines on a jet fighter. Its all-metal chassis got increasingly hot MacBook Air Overheating? 6 Tips and Tricks to Cool It Down Is your MacBook Air overheating? Here's how to find out what's making your MacBook so hot and how to cool it down again. Read More , to the point where it was physically painful to touch the back of it.

I opened the battery icon on the System Tray. Sure enough, it said that Google Chrome was “consuming a significant amount of energy”. I had just shy of four hours and thirty minutes battery remaining.


Switching to Opera, and there was a palpable difference. My laptop, although noisy and hot, was less so. Most importantly, my battery life had increased precipitously. I was easily getting another 40 minutes.

Although testing two laptops, both of radically different age, specification and condition hardly constitutes a rigorous scientific test, I’m convinced. Opera’s Battery Saving mode works.

Opera Is the Best Web Browser That You’re Not Using Right Now

At the time of writing, Opera is the browser that’s in sixth-place position. It’s below Chrome. Below Firefox. It’s even below Microsoft Edge. Edge!

I don’t understand this. Opera is one of the oldest browsers around, having been in continuous development since 1994. The latest version offers incredible value, and includes features that would otherwise have to be bought separately.

Opera now has some of the best multi-tasking features of any web browser. You can be watching a YouTube video and “pop” it out, allowing you to continue watching it while you do other stuff.


It also allows you to synchronize your history and bookmarks across browsers, as Google Chrome does, and includes some best-in-class security and privacy features.


Perhaps more excitingly, the developer version includes a built-in VPN, which uses SurfEasy’s infrastructure. This was made possible by Opera acquiring SurfEasy in 2015. We’ve written about SurfEasy in the past Protect Your Mobile Data and Network Usage With SurfEasy VPN [Giveaway] In the Google Play Store, you'll find a whole lot of VPN clients for Android devices, but few of them are as up-to-date and robust as SurfEasy. SurfEasy offers a 3-tier account structure: Free, Mobile... Read More , and they rank among our favorite VPN providers The Best VPN Services We've compiled a list of what we consider to be the best Virtual Private Network (VPN) service providers, grouped by premium, free, and torrent-friendly. Read More .

But that’s not to say that Opera has had an easy time of late. Its userbase has dried up, almost to the point of nonexistence. When it ditched its aging Presto browser for the Blink engine Opera 15 Is A Faster, Simpler Chrome, And Here Are 3 Great Reasons To Try It It may seem ridiculous now, but when I was younger, I forked over a great wad of cash for Opera, a revolutionary web browser from Norway. I took it home, excited at finally being able... Read More , its users went up in arms. Some former Opera developers left the company to create a separate browser, called Vivaldi Meet Vivaldi: The Power User's New Favorite Browser Meet Vivaldi; a beautiful new web browser aimed at power-users, built by the co-founder of Opera, Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner. Read More .

More recently, a consortium of Chinese companies and investors tried to purchase the company for $1.2 billion dollars. This deal is currently being held up by the Norwegian and American governments, and it’s uncertain that the deal will go through.

If it does, it’ll cause some to question the reliability and trustworthiness of the Opera browser. That’s because one of the companies in the consortium is the controversial QiHoo 360, who have been accused of security- and privacy-unfriendly behaviors in the past.

Will Battery Life Get You to Switch to Opera?

Opera’s new battery saver mode is undeniably cool, but will it be enough to draw you away from Firefox and Chrome? Tell me about it in the comments below.

Related topics: Battery Life, Google Chrome, Opera Browser.

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  1. JC
    August 30, 2016 at 7:37 pm

    Outstanding, beats Chrome hands down! Chrome uses far too much power and is super slow these days. Opera is lightning fast and my laptop runs cooler and longer!

  2. Kofi Adjei
    June 24, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    If it's gonna save my battery, I'm gonna have to try it out. I've always not been a fan of the Opera browser. Maybe today I might have a second thought.

    • Matthew Hughes
      June 27, 2016 at 4:24 pm

      Let me know how you get on!

      • Anonymous
        June 27, 2016 at 4:39 pm

        So far I'm loving it! Actually using it now. Just imported all my data from chrome and firefox and I was on! The battery saver feature works great too. Is there a way to automate the battery saver feature so I don't have to manually switch it on all the time? :)

  3. Michael Mason
    June 24, 2016 at 7:48 am

    I tried the developer version today. WOW! This little browser is FAST!

    The VPN integration is slick, and the built in adblocker was great! It took a little work to add in some tracking filters, but great experience, hands down!

    I wonder if Opera's focus on security and privacy will stick around now that they've been acquired.

    • Matthew Hughes
      June 27, 2016 at 4:26 pm

      They haven't been acquired yet. Like I mentioned in the story, there's some regulatory hold-up, and the Norwegian government have to give their consent.

  4. Simon
    June 23, 2016 at 7:59 pm

    In Opera's own test they were running an ad-blocker whereas Edge wasn't, not quite a fair test.

    I always have Opera installed and arguably it's a technologically superior browser but for some reason I just always reach for Chrome.

    • Anonymous
      June 24, 2016 at 2:42 pm

      Chrome has been my default browser for many years (before that it used to be Firefox) and although I have tested Opera a few times in the past it never made an impact large enough to make me want to switch. This time though I've taken the plunge and now run Opera happily on my desktop, laptop, tablet and smart phone. Sure enough, it's just another Chromium based browser but this also means that most things will feel familiar to Chrome users. But overall I prefer the Opera experience and I don't miss Chrome at all.