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Power Hardware

The Power Consumption of Modern PCs 122

Posted by Zonk
from the keep-your-lights-off-to-compensate dept.
janp writes "The power consumption of modern PCs has skyrocketed the past few years. Hardware.Info has done some fairly extensive research on the power usage of various configurations. It turns out the a high-end gaming rig can easily use more than 400 W, and that putting a system in stand-by isn't as saving as you might think. The article has some interesting tips to save on power costs."
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The Power Consumption of Modern PCs

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  • by Radon360 (951529) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @11:37AM (#17905938)

    I think the author of this article tried conserving energy by not using spell check.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by D4rk Fx (862399)
      He wsa jstu tyirng ot rerutn teh lteters to thrie natrual rnamdo staet ot icnresae entrp!oy
  • by Salvance (1014001) * on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @11:38AM (#17905952) Homepage Journal
    If you're worried about power consumption, you're not going to buy a top of the line gaming rig. You'd probably buy a relatively low powered laptop (or even buy a very underpowered laptop similar to a OLPC machine). Gaming machines will continue to be bigger and bigger power hogs. More power consumption = faster and better gameplay, no way around it.
    • by gstoddart (321705)

      If you're worried about power consumption, you're not going to buy a top of the line gaming rig. You'd probably buy a relatively low powered laptop
      Except, in a short time, Vista is going to start causing everyone to need to upgrade to big, honking machines with high power consumption just to run the new interface.

      Microsoft seems happy to be helping drive this trend towards ridiculous power consumption.

      Cheers
      • by nxtw (866177)
        Except Vista's new interface runs fine with all the fancy 3D effects on "underpowered" integrated Intel graphics solutions. When not charging the battery, and with the screen at full brightness and CPU at full speed, my laptop with the Intel GMA950 draws about 20-25w.
        • by jo42 (227475)
          Horse cow puckeys.

          Aero doesn't work worth bean turds on a Radeon 9200 AGP card or 845G/865G chipsets.
          • by nxtw (866177)
            What do two or more generations old Intel IGPs and ATI graphics cards have to do with the Intel IGP sold in most laptops and desktops with Intel integrated graphics within the past year?

            Intel chipsets 945 and greater will run Aero (GMA950, X3000) as will recent ATI/nVidia integrated graphics and the bottom-line ATI/nVidia cards from the past two to four generations (X?00/X1?00 and 5200+). The higher 9x00 series cards work too.
      • Microsoft seems happy to be helping drive this trend towards ridiculous power consumption.

        Of course! The vast majority of Windows licenses are sold via OEMs. If people stop buying new computers (because the current ones are fast enough), how would Microsoft make any money?

      • by drsmithy (35869)

        Except, in a short time, Vista is going to start causing everyone to need to upgrade to big, honking machines with high power consumption just to run the new interface.

        A PC you could buy five years ago will happily run Vista (well, you might need to drop a $30 video card into it, since DX9 cards hadn't been invented back then, but that's pretty much it).

    • by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenis@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @11:51AM (#17906172) Homepage
      Not really. more crap in game IMPLIES more power, but compare say a 486 to a Core 2 Duo. The latter is much more efficient per MIPS than the former.

      To put it another way, to match the power [in MIPS] of a typical 1989 486 desktop, you could do so with far less power consumption today. The problem is few companies write conservative software. Go ahead, make your application inefficient, a new cpu is always around the corner!

      What people seem to forget is that we were doing word processing, vector graphics and all that on old school Mac IIs in the mid to early 80s. Those programs certainly didn't require hundreds of megabytes of ram or gigabytes of disk space. Of course people associate numerical requirements with quality. CPU has more megahurts? It must be better! Game needs a faster GPU? It must be awesomer! etc...

      I'm personally impress with efficiency not bulkyness. Write me a competent word processor that fits on a floppy disk. That'd be a hoot.
      • by gfxguy (98788)
        I agree - most of my apps run just fine on my machine, but some apps, like video editing, are still a nightmare. I'd like to upgrade and just have that app run faster, but you need a newer OS to take advantage of newer computer features (multi-core or more memory or SATA or RAID), which then requires an upgrade to the app, which, instead of bug fixes, has been fattened by unwanted extra features.

        Try this site, though. [tinyapps.org]
      • by merreborn (853723)

        What people seem to forget is that we were doing word processing, vector graphics and all that on old school Mac IIs in the mid to early 80s. Those programs certainly didn't require hundreds of megabytes of ram or gigabytes of disk space

        Those applications also did far less. There's still a comparably light-weight word processing application on every PC. It's called notepad.

        I'm personally impress with efficiency not bulkyness. Write me a competent word
        processor that fits on a floppy disk. That'd be a hoot

        • by chthon (580889)

          Well, in the beginning of the 90's we did 500 page technical documents with WP5.1 on a machine with 640 kB of RAM, with graphically created overlays for headers and footers.

        • My preferred word processor is MS Word for DOS, version 5.0 and yes it fits on a floppy (with spell, thesaurus, macros, printer drivers).

          - One of the first DOS programs to support the Windows clipboard (until XP broke that)
          - A keyboard interface so intuitive that a keyboard template or macro-to-do-this-easier was never necessary
          - RTF, both ways
          - OS/2 family ap.
          - More than good enough Spellcheck and Thesaurus...17 years ago.

          I've had Office 2000 Premium since 2000 (due to that sweet $100 of
      • by MobyTurbo (537363)

        Write me a competent word processor that fits on a floppy disk. That'd be a hoot.
        CP/M and early PC versions of Wordstar would fit on a single floppy. That task has been done dozens of times before PC-XT-compatibles introduced people to the hard drive. (Which was a good thing, because floppy drives have awful access times too.)
      • by habig (12787)
        I'm personally impress with efficiency not bulkyness. Write me a competent word processor that fits on a floppy disk. That'd be a hoot.

        Word Perfect v5.1. Could run from a 5.25" floppy, and had was featureful enough to write whole books or court documents with.

        Of course, it was also the last major application written in assembly, so it also had to be a maintenance nightmare, but from a user standpoint it was pretty cool. Wrote a PhD thesis with it (shoulda used latex, oh well).
        • Yeah I was talking about ClarisWorks for the Mac in my post. From what I recall it wasn't huge [heck the macs only had like 80MB HDs at the time] but had all the nice on screen editing, fonts, drawings, and all that crap that the average Word user needs. Sure it didn't come with 3000 fonts or a paperclip but it was damn spanky and I'd use it over Word anyday.

          As for LaTeX part of it's hugeness (other than the binaries which weigh in at several megabytes) are the scripts and metafonts. A TeX distro which u
      • by Sigma 7 (266129)

        What people seem to forget is that we were doing word processing, vector graphics and all that on old school Mac IIs in the mid to early 80s. Those programs certainly didn't require hundreds of megabytes of ram or gigabytes of disk space

        Word processors in the Mac II era were strict Word processors. There was no need to worry about anything more advances than basic documents.

        Nowadays, word processors are expected to have:
        - A Spell checker, and grammar checker: This will detect mistakes you cannot sea.
        - Fon

        • You're obviously very young or very sarcastic or very ignorant or all three...

          ClarisWorks had a spell checker. I don't recall if it did grammar, but we were in school at the time. We were expected to correct our own grammar. It had "font" support in that any installed font could be used in a document. True, it didn't embed fonts, but it wasn't expected that there would be a huge market for addon fonts.

          Anti-aliasing wasn't a big requirement given that we were using DOT MATRIX PRINTERS. Not exactly grace
          • by Sigma 7 (266129)

            You're obviously very young or very sarcastic or very ignorant or all three...

            ClarisWorks had a spell checker. I don't recall if it did grammar, but we were in school at the time. We were expected to correct our own grammar. It had "font" support in that any installed font could be used in a document. True, it didn't embed fonts, but it wasn't expected that there would be a huge market for addon fonts.

            I've used Speedscript for the Commodore 64, Wordperfect 4.1.2 for the Amiga, and the latest version of Wor

            • If you write scientific texts then TeX is the way to go. Wordprocessors are just not mean for formulae. In my case my first book had both formulae and source code. Instead of manually pasting in the source code and hoping it's up to date, I wrote a perl script which would insert it where I wanted at parse time. While some layout issues can be tricky with TeX I think I spent the majority of the time on the content not the tool.

              When I wrote my second book [in Word] I spent a lot of time fighting the forma
            • by Bert64 (520050)
              I used WordWorth on the Amiga...
              Earlier versions had spell check as you type (rather unuseable if running from floppy) variable width fonts and such, and would run on an A500+ (same cpu as A500, newer OS and 1MB ram by default).
              Newer versions would still run in 2mb, but required a hard drive.
              And all versions were capable of running in 1600x1200 if you had a powerfull videocard (or the default amiga 500+ and upwards could do 1280x512)

              The extra features alone do not justify the size difference.
          • by Mprx (82435)
            "UTF-8 for instance is very easy to support since it has ASCII as a SUBSET of the standard."

            By that argument proving complicated theorems is very easy, because simple arithmetic is a subset of the procedure.
        • by Bert64 (520050)
          Anti aliasing is for screen fonts, not for printer fonts... Most printers use dithering, which is about the opposite of anti-aliasing. Printers can usually obtain a much higher resolution than any screen anyway.

      • 1000x the processing power for 4x the consumption.

        Looking the other way, in 16 years, we've reduced the power consumption to computing power by 99.6%.

      • by Gorshkov (932507)

        I'm personally impress with efficiency not bulkyness. Write me a competent word processor that fits on a floppy disk. That'd be a hoot.
        Reality check: 99% of all "work" done on office computers could be done just as quckly, and just as efficiently (and just as well) on an hold 4 mhz Z80 CPM machine running Visicalc and WordStar.

        As long as we don't have to deal with those 8 inch floppies, we're golden.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Banzai042 (948220)
      Not always, granted if you want an 8800GTS/X you'll need a big power supply, but if you go with something like the upcoming 8600 Ultra (not the highest end, but should still have some pretty good performance in dx9 games), which has no PCI-e power connector (draws enough power from the slot), just about any C2D cpu, a single optical drive, and a single hard drive, you'll have a machine that's pretty light on power use. Just because it's possible to get a machine that needs a 750 Watt PSU doesn't mean that's
    • by kaaona (252061)
      ...or build your own system using energy efficient components. A year ago I put together a forensics workstation with a dual-Opteron mobo, 4GB registered DDR, and ten SCSI drives (1.1TB array). I used ball bearing fans throughout and a high-efficiency PCP&C p/s. My only concession to gaming was a pair of 6600 cards -- the only significant heat sources in the enclosure. At power-on the hard drives do a staggered spin-up. My Kill-A-Watt meter peaks briefly at 450W, then settles back to 330W. Running three
    • I'm starting to find all kinds of limitations with this box, but it's still worth mentioning. Built summer before last, it's a socket 747 or somesuch -- 1.8 ghz Athlon64 (stupidly bought because I can upgrade it to 2.7, was mostly stable at 2.4, but really only rock solid at 1.8), pair of 250 gig hard drives in RAID 0, 2 gigs of DDR 400, GeForce 6600.

      There's some vibration now that I'm trying to kill, but before that, it was as quiet as any water-cooled rig. Got a nice cool, quiet power supply, and the vide
    • Another possibility is getting all-in-one PCs or some of the mini-form-factor PCs. All-in-ones are typically redesigned laptops with the battery support removed. A good example is the Apple iMac, even the 24"LCD model peaks around 120W when pushing the CPU and GPU at 100%, thrashing the disk, and powering the display at full brightness. Many of the MicroATX kits use low-power components too. There's a British company that makes UPS solutions where the PC can, via USB control, turn-off some of the outlets o
    • I'm blown away that it's "typical" to have a system that burns 400 watts. In my experience, your CRT monitor will burn more watts than your system will. Then again, my current CRT at work is only burning ~ 60 watts, so that's nowhere near 400. Perhaps my systems are no where near the range of a gaming system.

      LCD monitors are much "greener", so that's another plug for the folks promoting laptops too.
  • my 2 machines were easily averaging 500W. I thought a $140 electricity bill in the winter was a bit high, so bought a kill-a-watt and figured out that my computers were consuming 12 of the 18 KWH my apt was using a month. Now they are turned off except when I need them, and thanks to Wake-On-Lan, I can turn them on remotely as well.
    • Now they are turned off except when I need them, and thanks to Wake-On-Lan, I can turn them on remotely as well.

      Just to clarify, your machines aren't actually turned off, are they? I was under the impression that WoL needed the machines to either be in Standby or Suspend mode, which means they're still on to some degree (though using much less power than a fully "awake" machine).
    • by Darkfred (245270)
      Your 2 pcs at 500w are averaging between 4 and 6c an hour. At full load without power saving, and turned on 24:7 the worst case scenario is $30-$40 a month. In a real world situation this would probably average around $15 dollars a month.
      An actually meter on my computer (150 watt power supply, with power saving features) showed that I was averaging around $8 a month.

      On the other hand, your "energy saving" refridgerator will cost many times this amount. Mine averages around $70 a month worth of electricity.

      Y
      • by Darkfred (245270) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @12:26PM (#17906830) Homepage Journal
        Obviously I bought a new refridgerator. A 10 year old refridgerator is just not efficient anymore.

        But the scariest thing I found during my power audit was that each incandescent lightbulb was taking more power than my computer at rest. A single chandelier in my house accounted for 1/4 of my electrical bill.
        By replacing all the lightbulbs with compact flourescent I was able to shave a 3rd off my monthly bill. (still quite high because of an old ac system).

        In conclusion your computer is such a minor contribution to electricity that you shouldn't even be considering it before you fix the big offenders.
        • That's insane - you either have few lights in your house and gas heating and hot water, or that chandelier was lighting a football field. And your math may be bit off. If your lamp accouted for 25% of your costs, and you replaced the lamps with fluorescents at the same light output (75% energy savings) your electric bill should have only dropped by (3/4 of 25, carry the 2,...) 18.8%, or 1/6 of your bill. Still, to have a single fixture account for 25% of your electric bill is amazing. At my office - about
        • by Bishop (4500)
          Except a computer that is running 24 hours a day is not a minor contribution to your electricity consumption.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by HappyEngineer (888000)
          Using a kill-a-watt I found out that my computer draws 600W. (3 monitors, dual cpu, high end video card, 4 hard drives, 8 fans)

          I was able to reduce my power bill from $250/month to $100/month by turning it off every night.

          The upshot is that people should buy a kill-a-watt and find out what the big offenders are. Guessing probably won't work.
          • These power bills make me cringe. $100??? $300!?!?!

            My one bedroom apartment with its occasionally used dishwasher, electric stove, fridge/freezer, 4 or 5 LED lightbulbs, 25"tv, router, modem, cell phone charger, electric razor, gaming pc & work pc costs me between $16-$24/month.

            This is in Albuquerque, NM. I am pretty efficient. I...

            1. Never leave things on when not using them and have everything plugged into power strips conveniently placed on TOP of my desks/tv stand so it's easy to flip off t
        • by CmdrPorno (115048)
          Those candelabra CFLs look dreadful... A lot of fixtures which expose the light bulb are more aesthetic with clear, incandescent bulbs.

          I have and use CFLs, but only use them on fixtures that will be turned on and remain on for a long period of time, as every CFL I've seen takes a while to reach full brightness.

          My old Dell Poweredge desktop with 17" Sony LCD used about 160 watts during normal use. My new 20" iMac uses less than 70 watts during normal use.
      • On the other hand, your "energy saving" refridgerator will cost many times this amount. Mine averages around $70 a month worth of electricity.

        My total electric bill rarely climbs above $70/mo, and yes, my apartment does have a refrigerator in it (and not a particularly "green" one, either).

        There must be some other factor at play.
        • by Darkfred (245270)
          Like I said in my follow up, the other major offender in my house (besides AC and refridgerator) was incandescent light bulbs. A single 4 bulb chandelier will take more electricity than a massive 300W power supply at full draw and 100W monitor. My biggest savings in doller/per KWh was replacing all my light bubls with 10 and 15watt compact flourescents.

          I had an 8 bulb chandelier which turned out to be the single most expensive device in my house, who would have guessed.
          • Mind you, having 8 100W light bulbs is just silly even if you weren't concerned about the power costs. How big is this room you are trying to light? You could always have used 8 60W (or smaller) incandescent light bulbs (not that I am suggesting that you do, fuck that use the more modern better tech).
      • by spotter (5662)
        uh. This is how I computed it.

        Con Ed tells me I am averaging 18 KWH a day.

        Con Ed charged me $150 for electricity (17-18c a KWH)

        Computers are using over 500W (kill-a-watt, energy reader tells me this) steady if both are on (i.e. at least 12 KWH a day)

        hence, computers were using at least 2/3 of my daily electricity.
        • by Darkfred (245270)
          Even at those insane rates, and assuming your computers ALWAYS use their power supplies maximum rated power (technically impossible) that is still only $60 a month. Most computers only draw half their power supply rating and even less when in power saving mode. Do you really leave the monitors on all day?
          Kill-o-watt's spot metering is just not accurate for computers because their power consumption varies by 75% with simple application changes.
          But my guess is that you don't have kill-o-watt, you are just usi
          • by spotter (5662)
            No I have a Kill-A-Watt (bought from newegg 2 months ago).

            There are 2 problems with your power supply argument

            1) the power supplies take in more watts than they output (they are not 100% efficient)
            2) My power supplies are both 400W antec power supplies.

            I would guess power supply 1 is near it's max (dual athlon, radeon 9800, 8 HDs), while the other machine is probably using around 100-150W (single athlon, el cheap video card, 1 HD)

            When I said how much it was using, it was the steady reading given by the kill
            • by Darkfred (245270)
              That is pretty scary. Its possible that your power supplies are just throwing away the surplus rather than balancing it. With the setup you describe a 300w power supply should still be sufficient. I am running a single core athalon w/radeon 9800 and 4 HDs. In idle (but not power saving mode) i am hitting around 120-150W, my powersupply is underpowered, but not by much. While running battlefield at full res I occasionally brown out. (reboot)
  • by grommit (97148) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @12:00PM (#17906344)
    The summary mentions modern PCs but it seems to be about gaming PCs. Posting a story saying that gaming PCs take up a lot of electricity is pretty much stating the obvious.

    I'd be more interested to see the power consumption differences between an off she shelf Best Buy computer of 5-10 years ago compared to one of today. Brick and mortar electronics stores are where a good majority of people buy their computers so as far as home computer power usage goes, that's what matters. I'd like to think that with components like sound, networking and video being put on the mainboard and the ability of major manufacturers to set machines to go into a sleep mode by default that computers of today would actually take up less power than those of yesteryear.

    Not having any machine of that type around, I can't really do any testing unfortunately.
    • by Vellmont (569020)

      I'd be more interested to see the power consumption differences between an off she shelf Best Buy computer of 5-10 years ago compared to one of today.

      It's no secret that power consumption of PCs has gone up steadily. I'll bet you hard money that a Best Buy special made today is going to consume more power than a Best Buy special of 5 years ago. You might save a couple watts by having on-board LAN, but it's going to be more than taken up by higher electrical usage of the processor. As a real world compari
      • by toddestan (632714)
        On the other hand, if you are going to look at systems, I would guess that the power saved from going from a CRT monitor to a LCD monitor is greater than the extra power consumed by the rest of the system. I'm going to guess that the worst offender is going to be a system from about 2-3 years ago. Likely to still have a CRT monitor, and either a P4/Celeron or an Athlon XP under the hood.
    • I'd be more interested to see the power consumption differences between an off she shelf Best Buy computer of 5-10 years ago compared to one of today.

      Ten years ago, I had a Packard Bell 486 desktop (yes, purchased at Best Buy). I don't know how much power it used, exactly, but what I can tell you is that the CPU was passively cooled by a heatsink machined with cubes -- not fins -- about 2mm on a side. On my newer computers, even the RAM has bigger heatsinks (and therefore dissipates more energy) than that

    • by camperslo (704715)
      The summary mentions modern PCs but it seems to be about gaming PCs.

      That's for sure, the power consumption I see on a general-purpose Core 2 Duo desktop system built last fall (excluding display) maxes out at about 93 Watts, much lower than their examples.
      That's including 4 Watts for when the USB Eye-TV Hybrid NTSC/ATSC tuner is active, and with both cores of the E6300 kept maxed out (BOINC client always running) and the 1.86 GHz CPU overclocked to about 2.25 GHz by pushing the FSB speed a bit.
      The CPU runs
  • by casualsax3 (875131) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @12:03PM (#17906388)
    A few weeks ago I tested some power supplies to see if it's worth spending $70 on a power supply vs the crappy stock PSU that comes with a lot of cases you can find on NewEgg.

    I used Kill-a-Watt power tester, which can test for a number of things - I used raw amps.

    I tested 4 machines with 5 power supplies in 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4 drive configurations. I also took a reading of how much power the systems drew when I powered them on at 4 drives, which shows how efficient the power supplies become under serious load (it takes a good chunk of power to spin up 4 drives)

    The machines were all tested with the same 1x1GB PC5300 RAM, and the same four Western Digital SATA drives. The Intel systems were LGA775 chips on an Asus, and the AMD's were AM2 - also using an Asus motherboard.

    Here are the results (hosted by Voxel.net, so it should hold :) http://newyorkhatesyou.com/Power_Supplies.pdf [newyorkhatesyou.com]

    Power supplies tested: http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82 E16817256001 [newegg.com]

    http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82 E16817371006 [newegg.com]

    http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82 E16817151022 [newegg.com]

    http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82 E16817234002 [newegg.com]

    In a lot of cases the stock power supply uses almost twice as much power.

    In Brooklyn I pay $.19c/kwh, so 1 amp of power can cost around $20 a month - ((volts * amps) / 1000 ) * time (in hours). This means pretty plainly, that the stock PSU here would cost me another $15 per month on my one desktop that I always have on.

    Now if an office switches all of our workstations to one of the three 80% efficient power supplies, we stand to save a few hundred per month. Add to that the fact that these power supplies generally have more stable rails, and they should last longer - and its really a no brainer.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      If you want to calculate how much you're paying you should look at watts measured by your power meter and not amps. The simple watts=amps*voltage doesn't work for inductive systems like computers or most any other appliance. That said, these are interesting numbers, thanks for sharing.
    • by Spoke (6112)
      Nice data. I'm surprised to see the Antec PSU more efficient than the Seasonic as Seasonic is generally regarded as one of if not the most efficient PSU manufactures. In fact, Seasonic manufactures many PSUs for other companies, Antec included so I would not be surprised if the Antec PSU you tested was in fact a rebadged Seasonic unit.

      There is a full review of the PSU [silentpcreview.com] at SilentPCReview [silentpcreview.com] who has many full reviews of PSUs including efficiency tests.

      In general, any PSU with active PFC will generally pretty effi
      • by Spoke (6112) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @02:11PM (#17908736)
        One other guideline when purchasing a PSU:

        Buy the smallest PSU possible!

        Many people out there have "SUV syndrome" when buying a PSU and incorrectly assume that they need that huge 500w (or bigger) PSU for their PC. Unless you really do have a high-end gaming PC with a high-end graphics card and multiple hard drives, your computer will almost certainly normally use less than 200w peak, and more typically 75-150w.

        What does happen with an oversized PSU is in order to build a PSU to handle high current, it's efficiency at low current drops significantly. Typically the efficiency of a PSU starts dropping pretty quickly below 50% capacity and even faster below 25% capacity.

        Finally, you can also look for PSUs which are 80 PLUS [80plus.org] certified. These PSUs have been independently tested to be at least 80% efficient at 20%, 50% and 100% loads with a power factor rating of at least 0.9 at those load points.

        The Antec EA430 is part of Antec's EarthWatts series of PSUs which are all 80 PLUS certified.

        Out of the other PSUs casualsax3 tested, the SilverStone SST-ST50EF is also 80 PLUS certified. I could not verify if the Seasonic S12-380 is 80 PLUS certified, but it does not appear to be so even though it is more efficient than the Silverstone in casualsax3's test. If the S12-380 is of the "S12 Energy Plus" series then it should also be 80% efficient. I wonder if Seasonic quietly started shipping Energy Plus S12s instead of the old ones...
    • You pay $0.19/kwh? Holy crap that's a lot. My peak rate last summer $0.074/kwh here in Austin, TX (on Austin Energy).
      -l
      • You pay $0.19/kwh? Holy crap that's a lot. My peak rate last summer $0.074/kwh here in Austin, TX (on Austin Energy).

        Here in Seattle we pay about 4 cents a KWH. I pay about twice that, because I have both the Green Power (wind-only, pays for construction of wind turbines) and Green Up (pays for schools and bus stops to have solar power) programs.

        But it's still cheaper than yours. Even if we suffer under the clouds (except my Seattle neighborhood of Fremont, which frequently has rips in the clouds due to t
        • by Luyseyal (3154)

          Here in Seattle we pay about 4 cents a KWH. I pay about twice that, because I have both the Green Power (wind-only, pays for construction of wind turbines) and Green Up (pays for schools and bus stops to have solar power) programs.

          That's pretty sweet. I should point out that that's my peak rate. My lowest this year was $0.068 in November. I have Green Choice wind power which, at the time we signed up, was higher for the fuel surcharge. It is now about the same or lower than the normal fuel surcharge. My

          • What kind of Perl statistics do you do? (I write Perl and I'm interested in going into observational astronomy with a dash of computational thrown in for good measure.)

            Most medical genetics linkage associations for genetic family trees of people with apoB data for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's and lipid studies.

            One thing about our statistics is you can't use normal curves, as disease distribution has most people either very healthy or very sick, with few in between, so not ever a bell curve.
    • by Q7U (1005025)
      I am considering the 17" iMac, which is basically a laptop on a stand. SilentPCReview did a review of the older Core Duo (not Core 2 Duo) model and the most wattage they could get it to pull was 73 watts, and that was running Windows with 2 x CPUBurn and a ATI Tool stressing the video card.

      http://www.silentpcreview.com/article594-page1.htm l [silentpcreview.com]

      Another option might be to build a PC with AMD's new 65nm Athlon X2 CPUs, a motherboard with a built in GPU, a 7200rpm laptop drive, and LCD screen. You'd think that wou
    • by dr2chase (653338)
      And don't forget, that extra power has to go somewhere; it gets turned into heat, inside your PC case.
    • by tcgroat (666085)

      I used Kill-a-Watt power tester, which can test for a number of things - I used raw amps.

      That added a hidden variable to the results, namely power factor (PF = Watts/(Volts*Amps)). Better grade power supplies often have better power factor as well as better efficiency, because they use a power factor correction stage at the input instead of the simple rectifier-capacitor input section found on cheaper models. Any PSU with a "CE" mark should have a decent power factor because it's required to comply with t

      • Thanks for the input! We were actually concerned most with amps since we are charged by raw amps, so that's what we tested.
  • Now that Vista requires a mid-range video card to run, the power consumption of run-of-the-mill business PCs is going to take off.

    Despite its flaws, Vista will probably muscle its way into the market eventually.
    They'll probably stop supporting XP any day now.
    Dell will stop selling XP soon I'm sure.

    Then businesses will be forced to use Vista on new machines, and eventually they'll say "screw it" and get rid of XP altogether, and then we'll have blackouts.
    • some businesses have just moved to xp not that long ago and they will likely wait for sp1 before even thinking about vista. Also businesses run a lot older software that may not work in vista.
    • by nxtw (866177)
      It doesn't require a mid-range video card.
      Only if you want to run the Aero Glass interface do you need something decent; and even then, any recent ATI or nVidia card will suffice or even the Intel GMA 950 integrated chip that has been shipping on even laptops for over a year.

    • .. if MS doesn't push out XP itself via arbitrary dead-ending of critical packages (already done for what, DirectX or Media Player right? I admit I'm too lazy to check), boneheaded hardware vendors will write drivers that only work for Vista, for no reason other than to reduce their own support issues. It's already happening to Win2k.
      • Apparently someone with mod points thinks that you can have a new dominant operating system require substantially more hardware power without any corresponding increase in electricity usage..

        Maybe they know something we don't know.
        Like maybe Vista ships with a tiny cold-fusion reactor that powers your PC.
        I dunno, I haven't seen Vista... THAT would make me say "wow".
        • Vista also provides improved power management services. And that 'mid-range' video card isn't exactly working up a sweat while driving the Aero interface. I expect that you were troll-slapped because of your hyperbolic use of FUD.
          • FUD? There is no uncertainty here.

            Vista requires more graphics power.
            More graphics power requires more electricity.
            Therefore, Vista requires more electricity.

            What exactly are these "improved power-management services?"
            Sounds like reverse-FUD to me.
            You can't do much better than turn a computer off at night.
            If it requires more electricity when its running, it will use more electricity.
            I don't care how many sleep modes it has.
            Anyone who cares about their electricity budget is going to shut them off altogether
      • "They'll probably stop supporting XP any day now."

        It's a troll because Microsoft actually has a GOOD record of supporting their OS's for a few years after they've moved to new versions.

        When did they end Windows 98 support? Wasn't it in 2006?

        According to links from this page [microsoft.com] mainstream support for XP will end in 2009, and extended support in 2014.

        So the original post made a completely false claim that cast FUD. Isn't that a troll by definition?
    • Anything above the absolute bottom of the barrel will run Aero just fine. Something like an integrated Gefore 6100, 6150, 6200, 7300TC or a radeon X200M or X1150. Those cards will barely sip a couple of watts more than the lowest end intel integrated graphics chip. Troll. This article wasnt about Vista
      • Well if you're right about this, then I'm wrong about Vista's power consumption.

        But wrong != troll..
  • I used to live in a crappy little studio apartment. It was about 550 square feet. The winter I was there, our balmy Seattle weather dropped into the teens for a lengthy period of time, yet I never turned on my heater. The heat being put out by my refrigerator and my Pentium 4 was enough to keep me nice and toasty warm. If you're really concerned about power consumption because of money saving reasons, you could always move somewhere that electricity is cheap. Here I pay about 4 cents per KwH. Nice, huh?
    • Here I pay about 4 cents per KwH. Nice, huh?

      So that means you can afford huge sun lamps to combat the pervasive Seasonal Affective Disorder brought on by the constant clouds, eh? I keed, I keed. Seattle's a beautiful place with a lovely climate. All that stuff about rain is just a rumor spread to keep the Californians out. Really, it's sunny all summer long in Seattle. And if summer happens to fall on a weekend, everyone goes on a picnic!
      • So that means you can afford huge sun lamps to combat the pervasive Seasonal Affective Disorder brought on by the constant clouds, eh?

        Many people aren't really bothered by it. Some of us are actually bothered a lot more by too much sunlight (Too little apparently feels like depression to many people. Too much feels like stress to me.). In considering where we eventually want to live, Seattle's weather is a big draw.
    • I like to think of winter as mother natures gift of a few hundred extra MHz.
    • The winter I was there, our balmy Seattle weather dropped into the teens for a lengthy period of time, yet I never turned on my heater. The heat being put out by my refrigerator and my Pentium 4 was enough to keep me nice and toasty warm.

      Although it's great if the heat produced by appliances as a byproduct is enough to heat the space, it's important to note that you shouldn't run them for the purpose of producing heat, because a heat pump can accomplish the task using less energy. See Wikipedia:

      When used

  • My 1.83Ghz Core Duo iMac has a very low power consumption. See here [anandtech.com]. 64w under heavy load and 48w idle. If I put it in sleep I'd expect [dssw.co.uk] that it uses of the order of 5w. Which is impressive given that this is almost half of the power consumption of the most efficient system on test here.
  • Link to a printable version of the article (without 10 damn pages of ads): http://www.hardware.info/print/article_print.php?i d=amdnY2pvZGOa&pageid=1 [hardware.info]
  • I'd love to save some power!
    I have a dual opteron 246 workstation. These CPUs don't support any kind of low power mode. The room gets a few degrees warmer when I run this computer. *Now* tell me how I can save some power while being able to use the workstation. Sleep mode, my ass..
    And no, I'm not planning to shell out some $$ to swap the CPUs any time soon :P
  • Nothing new for me. In future power usage will increase. Mobile system's power usage will increase too, but new batteries will be invented
  • "The power consumption of modern PCs has skyrocketed the past few years.

    No, it WAS rising, several years ago.

    When AMD switched Opteron/Athlon64/Sempron64, power consumption fell, and continues falling.

    When Intel got off the P4 chip, power consumption fell.

    When 80%+ efficient (consumer) PSUs came out, power consumption fell.

    etc.

    Power consumption is significantly falling. Unfortunately, many companies are sticking to the slightly cheaper, but vastly more power hungry components, like P4-based Celerons, chea

    • by toddestan (632714)
      Actually, it's going back up again. It used to be that single core CPUs were using 75-100W or more at peak back in the Socket A and P4 days. They've gotten that back down to 30W or so per core - the only problem is that they are putting 2 and 4 cores on a chip now! We're essentially working our way back to where we started, though hopefully the budget (single core) chips will end up being very low power chips.
      • by evilviper (135110)

        We're essentially working our way back to where we started,

        Not quite.

        First, back in the good old days, CPUs didn't idle very well... With CnQ and SpeedStep on desktop CPUs now, they're using less power when idle, than ever before. Even if the peak is higher (which it usually isn't) your CPU is still largely idle 90% of the time, so there's tons of room for power saving with CnQ.

        Second, that only applies to the CPU, while the rest of the system is falling... Specifically, with AMD installing the memory c

  • Completly turning off a PC isn't practical. I recieve incoming calls via Skype, which requires that I leave my computer on.

    Granted, with a few relays, we could make monitors & speakers more efficient. I wired up a 10-amp AC relay to my reciever, which I use to completly turn off my subs and TV when my home theater is off. It saves me about $5 / month! Those of us who are real power misers could just plug our PC monitors into a switched outlet for real savings.

  • Of course efficiency is important. And in my perspective efficiency is considerably good for the latest computers. Every computer or software improvement that's made which increases processing power somewhere around 25% while gaining only a 100 watts in power consumption or some other proportional change is an improvement; there is the volunteer opportunity to use idle processing power on distributed computing projects. [distribute...uting.info]

"Never ascribe to malice that which is caused by greed and ignorance." -- Cal Keegan

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