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Energy Savings as a Priority in a PC

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June 1, 2007 4:32:37 AM

What can one do to get low power consumption of a home-built PC?

I have read the recent THG article on Power Savings, but it doesn't really answer my questions.

My Questions:

1. The Extreme Power Calculator can give you your maximum load, but how does one find out idle consumption in a prospective pc?

2. I have read that the AMD Athlon X2 series use much lower power at idle than a Core2Duo, but much more at load. Is this true? What about the 65w TDP AthlonX2s?

3. When I use a PC during a regular week, I only have it running at full load for maybe 5-6hrs per week. So for the rest of the time that im using the PC, it is practically at idle.

4. Does mATX vs ATX mobo have a big change on power consumption?

5. What kind of tool can I use to measure a PC's power consumption?

How is this PC for a budget low-power PC:
Athlon X2 3800+ Windsor 65w 2.0ghz w/stock cooler $73

GIGABYTE GA-M61P-S3 Socket AM2 NVIDIA GeForce 6100 ATX AMD Motherboard $85

Seasonic S12 380w high efficiency $75
2gb Kingston Value Ram $65
Coolermaster Centurion 534 2x120mm case $50
Samsung SATA DVD Burner $35
WinXP Home $90
WD SE 160gb HD $45

What Im looking for is a PC that will have a relatively low weekly power draw... not just load...

END
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June 3, 2007 10:59:25 PM

Quote:
What can one do to get low power consumption of a home-built PC?

I have read the recent THG article on Power Savings, but it doesn't really answer my questions.

My Questions:

1. The Extreme Power Calculator can give you your maximum load, but how does one find out idle consumption in a prospective pc?


You gotta do your own research to find out.

Hard drives typically idles at about 7w - 9w depending on how many platter are used in the HDD itself. Fast drives like Cheetahs and Raptors will probably use the same amount of wattage while idling, but much more during reading/writing.

CD/DVD drives => same thing.

As for CPU & GPUs you need do research at www.xbitslabs.com.

Quote:

2. I have read that the AMD Athlon X2 series use much lower power at idle than a Core2Duo, but much more at load. Is this true? What about the 65w TDP AthlonX2s?


In general, yes that is true. Only the X2 3600+ and X2 3800+ that are rated at 35w TDP will use less power than the C2D. Here's a comparision between the X2 3800+ (35w), X2 4600+ (65w), X2 4600+ (85w), and the Core 2 Duo E6600.

http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/amd-energy...

Be aware though that the E6600 at stock speed will annihilate the X2 3800+ though in performance.

Quote:

3. When I use a PC during a regular week, I only have it running at full load for maybe 5-6hrs per week. So for the rest of the time that im using the PC, it is practically at idle.


So what's the question?

Quote:

4. Does mATX vs ATX mobo have a big change on power consumption?


In general, yes because there is less circuitry due to fewer PCI slots and some other things. High performance mobos will use more power because of the chipset itself and other premium features like Firewire or massive number of USB ports.

Quote:

5. What kind of tool can I use to measure a PC's power consumption?


Kill-A-Watt

http://www.amazon.com/P3-International-Kill-Electricity...

Quote:

How is this PC for a budget low-power PC:
Athlon X2 3800+ Windsor 65w 2.0ghz w/stock cooler $73

GIGABYTE GA-M61P-S3 Socket AM2 NVIDIA GeForce 6100 ATX AMD Motherboard $85

Seasonic S12 380w high efficiency $75
2gb Kingston Value Ram $65
Coolermaster Centurion 534 2x120mm case $50
Samsung SATA DVD Burner $35
WinXP Home $90
WD SE 160gb HD $45

What Im looking for is a PC that will have a relatively low weekly power draw... not just load...

END


Looks ok I suppose if it's just for general usage and no gaming.

You may also want to try and undervolt the CPU as well. I have a mobile Athlon XP 2600+ in my HTPC. Since heat always an issue in a small case, I decided to undervolt my CPU, but I kept the CPU at stock speed.
June 3, 2007 11:16:39 PM

If you want low-power systems, underclock a Core 2 Duo E4300. Also, stay away from high-end graphics. A mATX motherboard should be less power-hungry then a full ATX board. To save more energy, you can use a passive-cooling system. For a hard drive, look at the WD1600AAJS--it is a single-platter design that is known for being more efficent, more reliable, and faster.
June 3, 2007 11:34:16 PM

Ah, thats the Single Platter drive that i was looking for.

How is the Seasonic S12 380W? Should be efficient and powerful enough eh?

So which is better? C2D e4300 Underclocked for $115, or the AX2 3800+ 65w for $75? Performance isnt such a big factor.

What is a good AM2 ATX or mATX mobo. The most important factor by far is reliability and ease of use.

A 65w Ax2, two sticks of ddr2, a ss psu, a single platter HD, integrated sound and video, what else do I need?
June 4, 2007 12:26:51 AM

Go with 1 stick of RAM--it saves a little bit of energy over 2 sticks. I don't know much about power supplies, but at your budget it might be worth it to go with the AMD (I don't know much about AMDs right now).
June 4, 2007 2:03:42 AM

Quote:
http://www.tomshardware.com/2006/09/25/green_machine/index.html
they got some good power savings with that. but its not gonna game. would be a good net machine. you can get close to that with a brisbane or an 64 x2 EE


yea, it was that article from which I first heard of the 35w AMD chips.

Aw heck, a 65w one would be fine.

Im looking into this bc I want to build my family an energy-efficient PC to replace their currently 4-year old Dell Dimension 2400 which has a 2.2ghz 478 P4, 768mb of ram, an 80gb IDE hd, a dvdrom, and cdburner. It doesnt even have sata!

So I figure that by next year when I come back from studying abroad, Ill be able to build them a sweet budget PC with my little brother.

So this is what Ive picked so far:

AMD Athlon X2 3800+ 65w
Lian Li PC7APlusII Case
2gb Kingston Value Ram
160gb WD singleplatter HD
Samsung SATA dvd burner
Seasonic S12 380w PSU

stick with integrated video and sound
stick with stock cpu cooler
19 or 20" widescreen LCD

Mobo: dont know what is good, but I want to stick with either ASUS or Gigabyte

It has to be AM2, and support the 65w Athlon cpu
It can be either mATX or ATX, preferably mATX, but the most important factor by FAR is reliability, and lack of issues.

This is the list so far:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=P...

I only will buy on reports of others personal experience.


So how does this look for a basic-non gaming PC for the family that will last a LONG time? The cost will probably be around $800 with LCD and OS.
June 4, 2007 2:44:27 AM

Quote:
Ah, thats the Single Platter drive that i was looking for.

How is the Seasonic S12 380W? Should be efficient and powerful enough eh?



The Seasonic S12 380 will be more than powerful enough for your system. You can even drop down to the S12 330. They are known for designing high quality PSUs. They design some of the better Antec PSUs and the make all PSUs fior Corsair.
June 4, 2007 2:53:20 AM

Quote:
Ah, thats the Single Platter drive that i was looking for.

How is the Seasonic S12 380W? Should be efficient and powerful enough eh?



The Seasonic S12 380 will be more than powerful enough for your system. You can even drop down to the S12 330. They are known for designing high quality PSUs. They design some of the better Antec PSUs and the make all PSUs fior Corsair.

might as well splurge $15 up from the 330w to give room for a possible GPU upgrade. I have a left-over X800GT that I might use for DVI. It runs off of the PCI Express Slot like the 7600GT.
June 4, 2007 6:38:19 PM

Power saving you say? Well, I think I can help you out with that.

You will definately want a Kentsfield processor. As for cooling, I wouldsuggest a 475W TEC with a single stage phase change cooler to cool the hot side. I would also suggest that you go the Crossfire route and get two Radeon HD 2900XTs.
June 4, 2007 9:06:20 PM

Quote:
Power saving you say? Well, I think I can help you out with that.

You will definately want a Kentsfield processor. As for cooling, I wouldsuggest a 475W TEC with a single stage phase change cooler to cool the hot side. I would also suggest that you go the Crossfire route and get two Radeon HD 2900XTs.


you forgot powering the whole thing with two 65% efficient 1Kw PSUs.... that'll show them hippies
June 4, 2007 9:49:57 PM

Quote:
Power saving you say? Well, I think I can help you out with that.

You will definately want a Kentsfield processor. As for cooling, I wouldsuggest a 475W TEC with a single stage phase change cooler to cool the hot side. I would also suggest that you go the Crossfire route and get two Radeon HD 2900XTs.


you forgot powering the whole thing with two 65% efficient 1Kw PSUs.... that'll show them hippies
June 5, 2007 1:55:08 AM

...duh! :lol: 
June 5, 2007 2:17:36 AM

Quote:
2. I have read that the AMD Athlon X2 series use much lower power at idle than a Core2Duo, but much more at load. Is this true? What about the 65w TDP AthlonX2s?

Today I tested my HTPC with a watt meter, and I found my X2 3600+ (@1.1V, 1.9GHz) system consumes 60W when idle. I don't believe CnQ features are enabled, though. At load (folding@home SMP client) my power consumption goes as high as 82W. FAH is a pretty decent load on the CPU.

Quote:
4. Does mATX vs ATX mobo have a big change on power consumption?

I don't have a direct answer for you, but I am sure that the AMD690G chipset is very energy efficient. If you're looking for power savings, integrated graphics is a potential path. You just have to be willing to give up the eye candy in games.

Quote:
5. What kind of tool can I use to measure a PC's power consumption?

You can buy a watt meter at most hardware stores.

Quote:
How is this PC for a budget low-power PC:
Athlon X2 3800+ Windsor 65w 2.0ghz w/stock cooler $73

GIGABYTE GA-M61P-S3 Socket AM2 NVIDIA GeForce 6100 ATX AMD Motherboard $85

Seasonic S12 380w high efficiency $75
2gb Kingston Value Ram $65
Coolermaster Centurion 534 2x120mm case $50
Samsung SATA DVD Burner $35
WinXP Home $90
WD SE 160gb HD $45


I think you'll be happy with that system. I think the NVIDIA on-board chips are a little more power-hungry than the AMD ones right now, but I don't think you're going to be unhappy as long as you aren't overclocking too much. Seasonic are fantastic for energy efficiency and I've never seen better voltage stability in my own usage.

I would very much recommend trying out under-volting your CPU. You can easily shave a few watts without any sacrifice in performance. Your investment should run cooler and last longer too.

Cheers
June 5, 2007 2:35:49 AM

you wont save on energy if going with one stick mean the system has to use more swap memory = more harddrive usage
June 5, 2007 2:36:57 AM

Quote:
2. I have read that the AMD Athlon X2 series use much lower power at idle than a Core2Duo, but much more at load. Is this true? What about the 65w TDP AthlonX2s?

Today I tested my HTPC with a watt meter, and I found my X2 3600+ (@1.1V, 1.9GHz) system consumes 60W when idle. I don't believe CnQ features are enabled, though. At load (folding@home SMP client) my power consumption goes as high as 82W. FAH is a pretty decent load on the CPU.

Quote:
4. Does mATX vs ATX mobo have a big change on power consumption?

I don't have a direct answer for you, but I am sure that the AMD690G chipset is very energy efficient. If you're looking for power savings, integrated graphics is a potential path. You just have to be willing to give up the eye candy in games.

Quote:
5. What kind of tool can I use to measure a PC's power consumption?

You can buy a watt meter at most hardware stores.

Quote:
How is this PC for a budget low-power PC:
Athlon X2 3800+ Windsor 65w 2.0ghz w/stock cooler $73

GIGABYTE GA-M61P-S3 Socket AM2 NVIDIA GeForce 6100 ATX AMD Motherboard $85

Seasonic S12 380w high efficiency $75
2gb Kingston Value Ram $65
Coolermaster Centurion 534 2x120mm case $50
Samsung SATA DVD Burner $35
WinXP Home $90
WD SE 160gb HD $45


I think you'll be happy with that system. I think the NVIDIA on-board chips are a little more power-hungry than the AMD ones right now, but I don't think you're going to be unhappy as long as you aren't overclocking too much. Seasonic are fantastic for energy efficiency and I've never seen better voltage stability in my own usage.

I would very much recommend trying out under-volting your CPU. You can easily shave a few watts without any sacrifice in performance. Your investment should run cooler and last longer too.

Cheers

the priorities are not OCing or gaming.

This PC will be left as stock. Extreme Reliability, low cost, low energy usage, and relatively low noise are the priorities of this PC (in that order.)

I want to build this (would be my 1st pc that I completely built). Ill build it w/ my 8yr old brother.... next year...

penryn may prove to be better, and then in that case, ill get the cheapest one

The mobo is the hardest part to pick though, there arent any obvious choices....
June 5, 2007 2:41:54 AM

By the time Penryn comes out the ballgame will have changed twice over in terms of what is the best mobo to pick in terms of bang/buck and energy efficiency. Penryn should be able to be tweaked to give you very low power though.
June 5, 2007 2:43:11 AM

Quote:
By the time Penryn comes out the ballgame will have changed twice over in terms of what is the best mobo to pick in terms of bang/buck and energy efficiency. Penryn should be able to be tweaked to give you very low power though.


great... i might as well get the other parts out of the game though...
June 5, 2007 3:18:58 AM

I think you're on the right track. I don't know how Penryn will compare to the X2s price-wise by the time desktop versions are available, but these days you have a lot of power available at a very reasonable entry price.

As for the integrated graphics, if you're waiting it out until the start of next year, by then nvidia an ati will both have new chipsets available, presumably with much stronger graphics capabilities (something like doulbe the Radeon 1250 IGP that I'm using). For extreme reliability, you might consider getting a solid-cap motherboard, since they're supposed to last longer. A PSU with active power factor correction is also supposed to be good for electronics longevity. The PSU you're considering already has that base covered.

And as long as we're talking about "down the road" things and all the uncertainty that goes along with that, what are the chances that SSD will become remotely affordable by then? I could stand to have one of those in my media centre, and the power savings should be at about 8-9W per drive.
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