Is there any difference between the laptop batteries? Which one would win in the case of 4 cells vs 3 cell laptop battery? These are the questions that we had when we were purchasing a new laptop.
How did we get into such a predicament? We have managed to stumble upon a model that comes in two variants. One had a three-cell pack, while the other had a four-cell battery. Even though the other components were pretty much the same, this difference confused us.
For that reason, we went deep into the topic. And we tested both the batteries with a laptop to gather more knowledge regarding them. Truth be told, the differences that we found amazed us, and we believe they will also surprise you. So, read through the entire article!
What Is Battery Cell in Laptop?
Contents In Short List
Just like the name suggests, a battery cell is basically an individual cylindrical compartment. The compartments will contain two nodes. One of them is the anode, and the other one is the cathode. The anode has a negative polarity, while the cathode has a positive polarity.
These negative and positive nodes create a voltage difference. When there is a voltage difference, there is a flow of electrons. And when there is a flow of electrons, there will be a flow of current. That flow provides power to the laptops.
On that note, electrons will flow from the anode to the cathode. In other words, from the negative node to the positive node. The case is different in terms of the current. It flows from the positive end to the opposing end.
Nonetheless, there will be an electrolyte, a substance that reacts with the anode and cathode to make the electrons flow.
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What Is Different — 4 Cell Vs 3 Cell Laptop Battery?
The apparent difference between these batteries is that one contains three cells, while the other has four. But that is not the only difference that lies between these two.
That being said, the number of cells does not have that much of an impact on the batteries. The only factor that will create a difference is when there is a similarity in the cells.
When the Cells Are Similar
If the cells are similar, in other words, if the four and three cell packs contain the same cells, the four cells batteries will be better than the three cells one. Those will offer longer run time as they have higher milliamp hours.
When the Cells Are Not Similar
The case is not the same when the cells are different. For example, a three-cell battery will be better than a four-cell pack if the cells of the three-pack have large-capacity cells.
On that note, the capacity of the cells is generally stated as milliwatts. 1000 mph means 1000 milliamp hours. And to get milliwatt hours, you need to multiply that number with the voltage. A cell with higher milliwatt hours will last longer than a battery with comparatively lower milliwatt hours.
3 Cell Laptop Battery
Just like the name suggests, the three-cell battery pack of a laptop will contain three cells. Usually, each of the cells will have around a 1.5 volts rating. That equates to 4.5 volts in total.
However, when it comes to overall milliamp-hour, it will remain the same as the cells are generally connected in series. But when the batteries are in parallel, the overall voltage will stay the same. In this case, the milliamp-hours will increase.
How Long Does a Three-Cell Laptop Last?
The thing is, the run time of the battery depends on a couple of factors. And the processor plays a vital role in this case. If the process is not powered efficiently, even higher milliamp-hour cells will not make the laptop run that long.
Secondly, it will depend on the load you are putting on the laptop. When running resource-intensive tasks, the system will consume a higher amount of juice from the cells. And in that case, again, a higher milliamp-hour cells pack will not be capable of running the system for that amount of time.
3 Cell Laptop Battery Size
When it comes to the size, it will vary from one laptop battery to another. Generally, for notebooks, the total capacity or size of the battery will be around 6000 milliamp hours. However, laptops meant for intensive tasks, such as gaming, can have 8000 milliamp hours or more.
Reversely, the laptops that are light and small will have a lower battery capacity. They can even have a total of 2000 milliamp hours. And the run time will depend on the processor and the tasks you will be running on the laptops.
The charging time is something that depends on two factors. One is the charging rate and the overall capacity of the battery. To adequately explain these two factors, let us take a 5000 milliamp hours battery as an example.
Five thousand milliamp hours means 5Ah, in other words, five ampere-hours. So, if you charge that cell up with a 2A charger that operates at 5 volts, it will take about three to four hours. Now, if the battery capacity is 8000, it can take around 5 hours.
Again, if you opt for a better charger, for example, a 10 volts 2 Amp charger, the charging time can be lower to almost half. However, it will still depend on the charging circuit inside the laptop and how well It handles the charging phase.
Another thing that is not that simple to explain is the manufacturing cost. Usually, laptop manufacturers will rely on the cells that are from other manufacturers. And when the cells are sourced in bulk, the cost per cell lowers significantly.
To illustrate, if you purchase an LG HG2 18650 sell individually, it can cost around 10$ each. And when you make a deal with LG about the cells and buy them in bulk, it can lower down to around 6$ per cell. And not all laptop manufacturers will deal with the same manufacturer. So, the price will vary from one to another.
Nonetheless, the three-cell laptop batteries can cost anywhere between $50 to $150. The price will depend on the chemistry of the battery, size, and housing. And the better these factors are, the higher the cost will be.
4 Cell Laptop Battery
Just like the three-cell packs, the four-cell ones will have four individual cylindrical compartments. As we mentioned earlier, each of the laptop battery cells generally has a 1.5 volts rating. And when we calculate the total voltage of the pack, it will be around 6 volts.
On the other hand, if the cells are connected in parallel, and each cell has 4.2 volts, the total voltage rating will be 4.2. But the total capacity of the batteries will increase.
How Long Does a 4 Cell Laptop Battery Last?
Again, the run time of the batteries will highly depend on the overall system and the components. When each of the parts is power efficient, the load on the batteries will be comparatively low. And when the load is low, the run time will be high.
However, you also need to consider that the four-cell packs will usually have a higher voltage output or higher overall capacity. And those two can increase the overall run time. In other words, if the milliamp-hour of the cells is comparatively high, the battery will last longer than the three cell packs.
That being said, the four-cell batteries will usually last anywhere between 5 hours to 8 hours. But this run time will highly depend on the efficiency of the components, which we have mentioned earlier. And when we talk about the 4 cells vs the 3 cell laptop battery, this run time can significantly impact.
Four Cell Laptop Battery Size
The same thing that was applicable for the three-cell laptop batteries is relevant for this as well. That means if the size of the cells is large, the overall capacity will be high too. And this capacity will vary from one manufacturer to another. It will also differ from one laptop to another.
Nonetheless, the four-cell batteries for laptops will generally start from the 3000 mAH mark. And they can go up to 9000 mAH. The light and compact notebooks will have a lower capacity, while the laptops for intensive tasks will have a higher overall capacity.
Like the three-cell batteries, the charging time of four-cell batteries will also depend on the charger’s overall capacity and power. If the battery’s overall capacity is high and the charger’s power is comparatively low, the battery will take longer to charge.
Again, when the capacity is comparatively high, and the charger offers pretty high power, the charging time will be reasonably low. Finally, if the battery’s total capacity is relatively low and the charger provides high power, the charging time will be exceptionally low.
That being said, the charging time for the four-cell batteries is generally around three to four hours for most laptops.
In terms of cost, it depends on the quality and the chemistry of the cells. The higher quality four-cell batteries that are of Li-ion chemistry can start from $60. However, when you purchase these batteries from a reputed source and have a higher capacity, they can cost up to $200.
FAQs of 4 Cell vs 3 Cell Laptop Battery
- How many cell batteries are good for laptops?
This will depend on the overall power of the laptop. The four-cell batteries will be a good pick if it boasts power-hungry components, such as a powerful CPU and a well-capable GPU.
A four-cell battery will not make that much sense on laptops that are less power-hungry and less capable because they will add unnecessary weight. However, if the weight does not bother you and if the laptop is compatible with a four-cell battery, go for it! It will usually enhance the run time.
- Which is better 3 cell or 4 cell battery?
There are some factors that you need to consider before dictating which one is actually better. The three cell batteries will have a compact and small form factor. They will even have a lower overall weight too. However, most will not have a higher voltage rating or capacity.
In comparison, the four-cell batteries will weigh a bit high and will also have a comparatively larger footprint. But they will generally have higher voltage capacity or capacity.
- What increases the capacity of the four-cell batteries?
When the cells are connected in parallel, the capacity of the overall pack increases. However, the voltage will not be adequate in that case. For example, when we connect two 4.8 volts 4000 mAh cells in parallel, the total volts remain the same, which is 4.8 volts. But the total capacity increases to 8000 mAh.
- Can I install a four-cell battery on a laptop that came with a three-cell battery?
If the battery housing is capable of accommodating a four-cell battery, you can indeed install it. However, make sure that you are upgrading in terms of milliwatt hours, as four-cell batteries are usually heavier than three-cell batteries.
- What does Li-ion stand for?
Li-ion stands for lithium-ion. It states the chemistry of the cells. Like li-ion, there are lipo, alkaline, and other chemistries available for the batteries.
Final Words: 4 Cell vs 3 Cell Laptop Battery
As you can see, things are not that simple for the topic of 4 cells vs 3 cells laptop battery. You need to consider the milliwatt hours, voltage rating, form factor, and weight. So, we can not really choose a clear winner in this case. It will be totally up to you. But do ensure you consider your needs and preferences.