For true gaming class notebooks, battery life span would be more of an an afterthought than a requirement, especially for desktop replacement class notebooks. However, for all other kinds of notebooks, battery life performance is a key factor for determining freedom from the wall socket.
In the case of the Toshiba Satellite P50, a battery up-time of just two hours is hardly anything to shout about in this day and age - even if it's a large multimedia machine. Naturally it lost out to the MSI and Lenovo notebook comparisons by quite a bit, but there are several reasons. Firstly, the P50 has a much smaller 43Wh battery capacity than the MSI GE40's 65Wh battery, while the Y500 has a monstrous 72Wh battery.
Secondly, the Intel Haswell processor in the P50 (47W max TDP) requires more power than the that used on the MSI GE40 (37W max TDP). We also noted that it has about the same power consumption as the Lenovo Y500 (single GPU mode) that's using a previous generation Intel Ivy Bridge processor and the last generation graphics engine that's supposed to collectively consume more power than the new generation hardware on the Toshiba Satellite P50. Looks like the choice of components used on the P50 is either not well optimized or Toshiba hasn't put a lot of thought in power optimization.
Another important note with regards to the reported figures is that the MSI GE40 was tested differently and that resulted in much better battery up-time. While testing the MSI GE40, we encountered problems to run our current benchmark standard using Powermark. As such, we had to resort to running a video loop till the machine ran out of battery. Historically when we made the switch from running videos to using Powermark about a year ago, we've tested enough notebooks to make the call that the difference in battery life figures were small. However, this discrepancy is very much wider on the new Intel Haswell platforms as we've seen with the MSI GE40 and again when we recently reviewed the Apple Macbook Air (2013 edition). This meant that the new processing platform is very much more efficient in tackling video workloads and thus doesn't tax the new machines much.
Having said that, you should then focus more intently on the outcome of the Lenovo Y500 and other past multimedia notebooks like the HP Pavilion dv6. You can see that the competitor's notebook from a year ago, comes out ahead of the brand new Toshiba Satellite P50 with over half an hour more battery life. While that doesn't sound like much, it accounts for 30% more battery up-time over the Toshiba machine's measly two hours.
Overall, this just means that while the Satellite P50 doesn’t have a class-leading battery life and while it's not bad, it's still a bit disappointing. Use the machine with caution when not near a power outlet as time flies with social media distractions these days.
Perhaps the Toshiba Satellite's slimmer build can help the portability aspect of the device? Our unique portability index helps users decide how portable a machine is to take it out and about by factoring in the machine’s battery life, weight and volume. This index works best when compared with similar class notebooks to give you a proper comparison playing field since these numbers swing greatly across various notebook types and sizes.
Needless to say, the smaller MSI GE40 Ultrabook gaming notebook fared a lot better, but the Toshiba Satellite P50 is not in competition with it. What about against a true gamer notebook like the Lenovo Y500 with a similarly sized screen? The Satellite P50 is more comparable here, but it still loses out to the chunkier and heavier Lenovo Y500 (weighs 2.9kg and measure in at 36mm thick).
What about against a direct comparison with an older multimedia notebook like the HP Pavilion dv6? As seen from its review, it's Portability Ratio is 0.371, which is better than the Toshiba Satellite P50. This is despite the fact that the HP machine weighs more and this is thicker than the new Toshiba P50.
Looks like the small battery capacity of the Toshiba Satellite P50 is hurting it more than one expected as its reasonably lighter frame at 2.4kg and thin profile at just 25.8mm (for a multimedia machine) didn't help it much. It's not bad, but it's just middling and we expected better from a new generation machine.