Battery life: hopes of equalling Thinkpad X1 Carbon in the longer term?

Long battery life is important to me, as I’m coming from a passively-cooled Core m3 Asus T302CA with two batteries (one in the main unit, and one in the keyboard), which could easily deliver an average of 11 hours of battery with my normal loads on Linux, when new. I basically want it to last all day, both working and at home, without plugging it in, as I keep moving between rooms and taking my laptop with me.

Based on Notebookcheck’s battery life figures, the framework delivers around 8 hours of battery life, while the Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 9, which is my main contestant, delivers 11 hours and 40 minutes using their web browsing tests (sorry, I can’t seem to link directly to the battery life sections).

I believe Framework staff has benchmarked the Framework at 10-11 hours using Mobilemark 2018, but the Mobilemark 2018 score that Lenovo claims for the Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 9 is 16 hours, so still substantially higher.

The Thinkpad X1 does have a very slightly beefier battery (57Wh vs 55Wh for the Framework), but I suspect that’s not the thing that makes a substantial difference. So if the batteries are roughly the same, do you think there’s any hope of the Framework reaching similar battery life as the Thinkpad X1 in the future thanks to UEFI, EC or other software tweaks? Is it a realistic goalpoint, especially under Linux?

I think based on other forum threads I’ve read, Framework staff have stated that the only hardware thing that makes an objective difference on battery life, compared to most mainstream ultrabooks, is the unsoldered DDR4 RAM (an entirely understandable choice). Could there be other things that just can’t be helped?

(By the way, bit of a different topic, but about the RAM, I believe that Microsoft certification will require Modern Standby support, at least on Intel chips which no longer offer S3, but the Modern Standby spec requires soldered RAM. I’m a Linux user so it’s not like I care what Windows does, but I believe to sell the laptop with Windows on board, Microsoft certification will be required, is this correct? So can we expect future iterations of the Framework to still have non-soldered RAM?)

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On your last question, I have some doubts about wether that wikipedia entry on the requirements for modern standby is accurate, not just because it’s already been flagged as “citation needed”.

My understand is that the Framework, which comes non-DIY with Windows pre-installed but still non-soldered RAM, does in fact support modern standby as well as full BitLocker device encryption - which according to the Wiki section you linked should require soldered RAM.

do you think there’s any hope of the Framework reaching similar battery life as the Thinkpad X1

Frankly no.

  1. 2256x1504 vs 1920x1200 display on the X1
  2. Socketed DDR4-3200 RAM vs soldered LPDDR4x-4266 (LP stands for low-power) on the X1
  3. Non-USB-C expansion cards draw more power than the soldered ports on the X1

Having said that I would expect any significant improvements to be made on the standby front.

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I mean with tuning (auto-cpufreq) you can expect expect 7-8 hr based on my caculations. But for 10+ hrs you really wanna dim the brightness, disable bluetooth if not in use, enable VAAPI / hardware acceleration on browsers if you watch videos frequently, and rest of hacks. Have a look at some of my config:

Haven’t tested on framework, I purchased on batch 7 just yesterday.

Some more options: PasteBin (use with caution)

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I use powertop and still have atrocious battery life. If I am compiling a bunch of stuff I can kill the battery in an hour easily.

If you want to know if the Framework could reach the same battery life as the X1 comes standard with, the steps mentioned by @Animesh_Sahu and the thread Linux battery life tuning might give you answers on the Framework side (Linux though, I don’t believe there is a thread about Windows power tuning yet).

I have to agree with @feesh however: if you applied the same optimisation to the X1, it would for sure come out on top.

Seeing your other thread, I would say this is very much a software issue or a hardware issue, as this is NOT normal. Under heavy sustained load you should be seeing around 3 hours minimum from at least my experience.

I would implore you to try booting from a Fedora 35 or Ubuntu 21.10 live disk. Heck if you can, install WIndows 10 on it. While there check your battery life, etc. Also your temps. Please report them if you could in your other thread.

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EndeavourOS (arch) Linux daily driver here, and I’ve posted quite a bit about battery life tuning in that other thread.

Getting 6 hours autonomy away from external power is very doable on a properly hardware spec’d Framework and tuned Linux install. 8 hours is achievable if you’re careful with brightness and doing lightly loaded things. 10 would be quite a stretch but not impossible, especially with lots of idle time that the machine can drop into C10 with PSR on.

Keep in mind framework can and will draw less from the main battery if even a weak USB source is plugged in. Power bank, phone charger, etc all get blended in to reduce the hit to the main battery. I can get another 3ish hours from an 18W ~5000mah usable battery bank, for example.

You didn’t specify what your use case and environment is that demands that long of autonomy. X1 Carbon might actually be better if that’s the biggest factor and you can afford Lenovo’s pricing. But the F.w paired with a 100w GaN USB-PD charger or power bank that would let you get even a quick ~30 min mid day recharge in would probably have you at the same total autonomy across a 16 hour day, with same or less travel weight than the X1.

But I love that the Framework is a little bit more flexible (let alone upgradable), and can really turn up the performance when I’m back at my desk and plugged into my egpu.

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Thanks everyone for the useful information. I had somehow missed a likely crucial point, which @feesh mentioned, the fact there is a 2256x1504 display. I was somehow entirely convinced a 1080p touchscreen was available, and I have no idea why, because it just isn’t. Apart from the fact I did want a touchscreen, I am aware that display resolution seems to be a big driver of battery consumption.

Unfortunately what you all say makes me lean in the direction of the Thinkpad: @D.H says with Linux, 6 hours is “very doable” as long as the system is tuned, meaning that’s probably the sweet spot I should expect. But that’s about half of what I’d want to be going for… maybe I could reach 8 because I do tend to keep my brightness quite low, but that’s it. Is PSR currently working properly, by the way? It sounds potentially like something massively useful.

The thing is, my use case isn’t crazy, I’m not in the jungle away from any power source for 12 hours, but I’ve gotten very used to the convenience of taking my laptop everywhere in the apartment and moving it all the time, and much of that time I’m not close enough to a power supply, not even a weak one… also considering the limited maximum length of USB-C cables doesn’t help!
What I’m doing is mostly keeping a ton of Firefox tabs open (like really a ton, which is why I need my next computer to have 16GB of RAM at least, as 8GB just isn’t doing it anymore; by the way, would having two DIMMs in the Framework, for dual channel use, use even more battery?), watching videos as @Animesh_Sahu suggests that may be a problem without VAAPI and hardware acceleration, but not too often, and talking to people, usually via text, sometimes voice/video, but I generally can be plugged in while doing voice or video.

Plus, I take into account the fact that battery life will inevitably drop massively over time (my current computer, which is definitely at the end of its life, has one battery at around 60% of its original capacity, and the secondary battery at 40%). In the case of the Framework, the good news is I can always buy another battery, so there is that… but then again, the Thinkpad battery seems reasonably easy to replace by the user, as well.

Feel free to keep making the case for the Framework…! In principle, I’d definitely prefer to give money to a company that’s doing what Framework is doing than to Lenovo, but the X1 Gen 9 also seems to meet all of my needs. Yes, it’s expensive, but the configuration I’d get is around €1650 with the standard discounts you can get pretty much every weekend, which is a ton of money, but when I tried to “simulate” a Framework purchase from France, it ended up being €1350 or so, I think, with an equivalent configuration (DIY version). A definite difference, but not quite make-or-break… consider there are similarly-specced ultrabooks for €800 or so, they “just” aren’t anywhere as robust.

@LjL I had both an X1C9 and Framework for about a week and was able to directly compare them. I’ve written fairly in-depth reviews for both and you’ll see a ton of X1 comparisons in my FW review:

Here’s are some photos I took of them both side-by-side (scroll down a bit):
https://imgur.com/a/w3S8N5I

In the end I returned the X1 because of these main factors:

  • Inferior thermal capabilities–you’re only getting 15W out of the CPU, whereas on the Framework you’re getting 28W.
  • Astonishingly awful webcam quality (this was important to me; FW for comparison)
  • Soldered ports. You’re only getting 1 extra port on the X1 vs the FW, and I would argue that the ability to hotswap any of them on the FW evens this out. Charging on any side is a dream.
  • Inferior display. The higher-res, taller display was surprisingly much better for me given that I always preferred matte. Details, information density, and colors are noticeably better than on the 1200p X1. (you can see a bunch of comparisons in the imgur album)
  • Soldered USB-C exposed to wear-and-tear. IMO this is one of the most likely reasons for a $500+ motherboard replacement on the X1. FW effectively solves this with its expansion card system.
  • Open source firmware. You are never ever ever going to get this with a ThinkPad.

Those being the main reasons, a bunch of smaller, nitpicky reasons also influenced me to go with the FW:

  • Useless skype function keys on the X1 that I’ll never use
  • fn-ctrl keycap ordering is annoying
  • Trackpad issues (no 3-finger mclick) with smaller usable area and niche keyboard combos I use (shift+caps+x) didn’t work on the X1
  • Unreliable fingerprint reader and Windows Hello IR login. The latter completely erased any disadvantage the FW had for not having an IR camera.
  • Soldered RAM and WLAN. I got 32GB RAM to alleviate some of this but I still would rather have socketed components.
  • I felt infinitely better supporting Framework as a company vs. Lenovo. If I kept the X1 it would be like voting with my wallet for all the terrible changes they’ve made to ThinkPads as a whole in the past few decades.

These were the only things holding me back from returning the X1:

  • Trackpoint!!! I miss it every time I use the FW. Such a killer feature on ThinkPads.
  • Worse battery life (though I’m usually plugged in) and sleep drain (hibernate is quick enough) on the FW
  • Wobbly lid on the FW
  • Squashed arrow keys on the FW are annoying but home-row hotkeys alleviate this.

If battery life is a deal-breaker for you, then my whole wall of text was for naught lol. But I hope it helps you consider some of the pros and cons you may not have thought of before.

Oh, to answer your questions:

Seems like no, at least on Windows: https://community.frame.work/t/random-screen-blanking-in-windows/7989/8

Technically yes but not in any significant way. The main power draws are the screen and CPU.

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@feesh I do value battery highly, and also having a touchscreen (which for some unfathomable reason I was convinced was an option with the Framework), and unusually a matte touchscreen at that, so I am currently leaning towards the Thinkpad, but I still think most of the points you make are excellent and important to keep in mind, definitely not for naught.

Among the things you mention, I really don’t care much about webcam quality (the less I am seen, the better!) and find the Ctrl / Fn position a non-issue as they can be swapped if required.

Your point about resolution is noted: I currently have 1920x1080 on 12", and while I can only “see the pixel” if I look from quite close, it’s very obviously not as sharp as my phone. Bringing it to 14" may start to look uncomfortable, and while 2256x1504 is not a resolution I’m familiar with, it seems like a good match for a 14" screen, without going to 4K with its own issues (battery and scaling).

I had read on Notebookcheck that the X1 had some throttling/thermal problems that have now been “solved” by making the CPU/GPU run slower basically, so that’s disappointing but it’s useful to know that you also found these issues.

By the way, your review says you bought RAM and SSD for the Framework from Amazon. Would you recommend that over buying it with the laptop? Due to price, better options, easier warranty, or what reasons?

One thing you mention in your Framework review is “Minimum brightness is noticeably brighter than the X1, and about the same as the Lat. The dimness on the X1 is something I’ll miss for nighttime use”. I need very low brightness, as sometimes I suffer from migraine or other light sensitivity and I use the computer at night a lot. My current computer, with Linux, goes down to virtually zero brightness (it has actually increased in recent versions of Linux, because it used to actually be zero, which was not convenient when you set it to zero by mistake!). Do you think, or does Framework think, this is something that could be obviated in future firmwares or with Linux settings? An overly bright minimum brightness could really ruin things for me.

All in all though, interesting reviews, I’ll show them to other people interested in the Framework. Do you happen to have a review on your Latitude too, although my understanding is it’s no longer available, but if nothing else, you seem to like the keyboard better…?

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Unfortunately seems like FW isn’t for you then.

FYI I did all benchmarks and performance analysis on latest BIOS. The previous issues that Notebookcheck reference were much much worse (stuttering on Zoom, YouTube, and games from the 90s) before BIOS updates.

The 15W-sustained is after updating everything, and that’s what I am unsatisfied with. I even tried unlocking power limits via ThrottleStop and would get a thermal hard shut-down trying to get it to run at 18W sustained. So regardless of software issues, the thermal capability is quite bad.

All that said it shouldn’t be a problem if you’re just browsing or watching videos.

All of the above. Though Framework doesn’t put too much of a markup on the components, I just went for budget components to save money.

I wouldn’t say the min brightness is “overly” bright, just that I notice a difference vs. the X1. As far as tuning, this is something that should be modifiable in the EC firmware.

No full review but the Latitude 7480 is pretty old (dual-core CPU!) and comes from an era when business laptops had much better reparability, ports, keyboards, etc. New Latitudes are much worse in all aspects and I don’t really recommend them. But I do recommend used/refurb quad-core 7490 or 7400s for people on a <$400 budget.

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You might want to check out a handy little freeware tool called Dimmer, which has been very useful to me when using monitors that don’t go dim enough by themselves.

@21jaaj nice tool. f.lux also has this capability.

Thanks, I’m definitely a Linux user though. Maybe there is something similar for Linux, but unless the actual screen brightness goes down, you know, even with theoretical black, there’s a lot of light coming off a screen that’s set to an overly high brightness. From @feesh’s picture — it’s always hard to judge these things from a picture, but — it definitely looks like the Framework would be way, way too bright for me using it in the dark.

Definitely don’t glean real-life differences from those pics, as they’re edited and in weird lighting conditions. As I’ve said I wouldn’t characterize the minimum brightness on the FW as ‘overly’ bright.

To give an idea, with the brightness I’m normally using when in a dark room, if the room were actually lit up, the screen would be virtually unreadable.

Yes, it has been working perfectly in X11 on kernels 5.15.x and 5.16.x for me. Wayland seems to be regressing badly lately on frame rate and power usage so I’m not using it.

Dimming manually to 1 via command line makes this screen very comfortable to use in theater dark and darker conditions. I wrote up how on a different thread.

Search is your friend :slight_smile:

Im curious if anyone has attempted to undervolt their Framework laptops yet to see what kind of performance/cooling/battery life improvements could be made.

The 11th gen Intel CPUs will not allow undervolting or overvolting for that matter.