After nearly 2,000 hours of AA battery testing, there is a clear winner for the best battery of 2021 as well as some clear losers.
The best overall AA battery in our testing was the Energizer Ultimate Lithium - in fact, it wasn't even close. In the low power discharge tests (think: clocks, radios, smoke detectors, etc.) it lasted 20% longer than the next best AA. In the high power discharge tests (think: RC toys, electric shavers, cameras, flashlights, etc.) it lasted three and a half times longer than the next best. It is expensive (4 times the price of our best value pick) but it is truly unbeatable in long-lasting performance. For applications where long battery life or high power are important, the Energizer Ultimate Lithium is the clear choice.
The best value AA battery in our testing was the Rayovac High Energy AA. It performs as well as many batteries costing three times the price while outlasting all of the batteries in its price range by 10-30%.
The Energizer Max AA, Duracell CopperTop AA, and Anker AA all performed well. While not quite offering the value of the Rayovac or the all-out performance of the Energizer Ultimate Lithium, they performed well for their respective prices. Buy whatever is cheapest at the time of purchase and you won't be disappointed with any of these cells.
These batteries aren't worth your time or money:
How We Chose
After extensive testing (see below) we were able to compile the following data:
From this chart batteries like the Energizer Ultimate Lithium and the Rayovac High Energy really stand out as clear winners for their respective categories.
How We Tested
We tested all 10 AA Batteries on a professional 8 channel battery tester. We tested 3 examples of each battery at each power level. The results of those 3 examples were then averaged together to get an average performance for each battery. See the relative performance of each battery below.
AA Batteries ranked by overall performance: Endurance (hours), Capacity (mAh), and Capacity (mWh)
Low Power Test
Some devices require really low power for long periods of time. These devices may run for days, weeks, months, or even years on a single set of batteries. This test applies a really low power load (50 mA) to the AA batteries in order to simulate low power devices such as:
Smart Home Devices
Game Controllers (Xbox controllers)
Mouse and Keyboards
This test is the least stressful for the batteries, and as such the performance between them all was fairly close. The difference between the longest lasting Alkaline Battery (Energizer Max AA: 56 hours) and the shortest lasting Alkaline Battery (ACDelco Super Alkaline: 49 hours) was only about 7 hours or about 15%. Of course, the Energizer Ultimate Lithium still won this contest easily with an endurance of 67 hours. See more detailed results below.
AA Batteries ranked by low power performance: Endurance (hours), Capacity (mAh), and Capacity (mWh)
It is important to note that while this is the lowest power test we ran on these batteries, some of the devices listed above will draw significantly less power in operation. For instance, a flameless candle may only draw 25ma which would allow it to last about 100 hours or so, while a smoke detector may draw less than 1ma, allowing it to last for months or even years. Regardless of the actual power draw of the device, the relative performance of these batteries should remain the same.
Medium Power Test
A lot of our everyday devices demand more power from a AA battery than a flameless candle or smoke detector. These devices are probably ones that don't run all the time, but rather are turned on, used, and put away. Think things like:
Professional Audio Wireless Transmitters and Receivers (Microphones, body packs, etc)
Remote Control Toys (Cars, etc.)
Portable Audio Recorders
To simulate these devices, the tester was set to draw a continuous medium power (250 mA) load from the AA batteries. This test is fairly stressful for the batteries and as such, we see some big differences between the high performers and the batteries to avoid.
AA Batteries ranked by medium power performance: Endurance (hours), Capacity (mAh), and Capacity (mWh)
This test is where we really see the AmazonBasics High Performance AA Battery start to fall flat. Despite being in the same price range as batteries like the Rayovac High Energy or the Anker AAs, it lasts for a disappointingly short amount of time. Your devices can last for almost twice as long with our value pick, or nearly three times as long with our best overall pick.
High Power Test
Finally, we tested the batteries under a really high power load (1000 mA). This is a great way to simulate devices like:
Electric Adult Toys
These devices demand a lot from their batteries, and we really started to see some big differences in their performance.
AA Batteries ranked by high power performance: Endurance (Minutes), Capacity (mAh), and Capacity (mWh)
The only battery with good performance in this test is the Energizer Ultimate Lithium. All of the other batteries didn't fare too well, and you would be better served with a Rechargeable AA, which are better suited for the high power draws of these devices.
Detailed Battery Reviews
See the following posts below for details about each battery:
See this file for all of the test data we collected.