15″ MacBook Pro Extended Life Battery
Company: FastMac Performance Upgrades
The most obvious appeal of a MacBook/MacBook Pro (aside from warming one’s lap in cold weather) is the ability to run from a battery, untethered from AC power sockets. Even though Apple P.R. touts decent run times for its laptops, you need to toggle the display brightness down as far as possible, you can’t use the hard drive much, and heaven forbid running the optical drive. Compared to PC laptops, Apple laptops have long suffered from relatively short battery life.
Alessandro Volta would be proud of the folks who actually construct the lithium-ion battery cells that make up the FastMac battery, as they’ve managed to cram more amp/hours into the same battery size than does Sony, Apple’s manufacturer. This is not your father’s battery technology! Plus, FastMac’s battery is cheaper, to boot.
I used the FastMac battery over several weeks, and here’s what I found.
First, the fit and finish are quite good. You get the same battery charge LED and pushbutton that Apple provides. Both batteries are metal on top. The only visual difference is the FastMac battery bottom case is plastic, whereas Apple’s is metal. It fits just as snugly into the battery receptacle as does the Apple unit.
Given the good construction quality, the real question is “How long does it last?” To judge that, you need to start by looking at each battery’s theoretical capacity. Amazingly, I recall that my MacBook Pro battery measured at 5350 mAH (milliamp hours) after being properly conditioned right after purchase.
Apple System Profiler tells me that, after 5 months of use, 47 complete charge cycles, the factory battery still can charge to 5300 mAH. So, it’s holding up quite well.
The FastMac battery, after the initial conditioning, showed a capacity of 5700 mAH. That’s 7.5% more capacity than the Apple battery (400 more mAH / 5300 = .075)
Real world trials showed that I consistently enjoyed run times of 15-20 minutes more with the FastMac battery. This is not a life-altering increase, but it’s clearly noticeable.
Is there any downside to using a non-Apple battery? None that I can see. Having a backup battery in your laptop case will allows you to compute on almost any U.S. domestic flight. In my secondary career as an airline pilot, I regularly used to fly Boston to San Francisco, which normally lasts 6:30 – 6:45. Two batteries will allow keep your MacBook Pro chugging for almost the whole duration of such an airline ordeal. The only annoyance is that both your batteries are drained upon arrival, thus requiring an external charger or serial in-computer recharging to get them both ready for more work.
With Apple’s replacement battery retailing for $129.00, and FastMac’s price at $99.95, I’d recommend FastMac if you need a second (or replacement for an out-of-warranty) battery. You get the same build quality, and better battery life. What’s not to like?