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How We Test Notebooks

Breaking down the benchmarks used to evaluate every system that hits our labs.


LAPTOP Battery Test

This test, developed in the LAPTOP labs, replicates continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi until the battery is completely drained. Starting with a full battery, a notebook runs a script that visits 60 popular Web sites in a loop, pausing for 30 seconds on each, then closing and reopening the Firefox browser with the next page. The test is run in Power Saver battery mode, with the screen at 40 percent brightness, and the notebook's settings are tweaked to prevent it from entering standby mode or going into hibernation.

LAPTOP Transfer Test

This benchmarking test was developed inside the LAPTOP labs. During this test, a 4.97GB folder of mixed media files, including photos, documents, videos, and music files of varying sizes, is copied from one folder on the notebook's hard drive to another. We record the speed with which the notebook records the file.

Boot Time

Using a stopwatch, we record the amount of time the notebook takes to boot from being completely shut down to the moment we have control of the desktop and all of the system tray items are loaded.

Heat Test

To test the system's external temperature, we stream a Hulu video at full screen for fifteen minutes, and then use a Raytek MiniTemp laser temperature gauge to measure the temperature (in Fahrenheit) of the touchpad, the space between the G and H keys, and the underside of the notebook. We also measure any other hot spots on the notebook, as well. In the case of gaming laptops, we play a game--such as "Batman: Arkham City"-- for 15 minutes, and then retake the temperatures in those same areas.

We consider anything above 95 degrees to be uncomfortable and anything above 100 degrees too hot.

Display Brightness

To measure the brightness of a notebook's display, we enable Windows 7's high-contrast white background and then use an AEMC light meter to measure the brightness of each of the four corners of the screen, as well as the center. We then average the five readings to determine the display's overall brightness.

LAPTOP Spreadsheet Macro Test

Like the Battery Test and Transfer Test, the Spreadsheet Macro Test was designed inside the LAPTOP labs to stress the CPU. During this test, 20,000 names are matched to their corresponding addresses in OpenOffice. We time how long it takes the notebook to complete this task; the shorter, the better.

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