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Maximum Efficiency: Build A 25W Performance PC Using Core i5

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February 23, 2010 5:22:48 AM

EVER THOUGHT OF A SSD ? SERIOUSLY ?
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-16
February 23, 2010 5:40:01 AM

Well, since my first comment was obviously deleted, I will try to make this one a little more meaningful.

News Flash : This just in, we have nothing new to report so we will again try to show how Intel's dual core CPU rules.


Just a suggestion, how about throwing together some useful articles on say cooling vs extremes. I would suggest something like this: setup 1, silent air cooling. setup 2, max air cooling, setup 3, silent water cooling, setup 4 max water cooling. Then put each through the paces, max OC, noise levels, and thermals.

Personally all these i3 articles are leading up to the next SBM being yet another all Intel buildoff.
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3
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February 23, 2010 5:42:34 AM

Thank you for doing this review. I hate computer noise, and would like to build something as close to a fanless system as possible.

I'm not sure how much the power supply in your review costs, but you may want to try the link below for a fanless, and high efficiency, 102W power supply. It cost about $80 with shipping. I think it averages about %80-90 efficiency at the 20-90 Watt level, and is completely silent.

http://www.mini-box.com/picoPSU-150-XT-102-power-kit
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2
February 23, 2010 6:30:16 AM

toms-viewer-1996:
I think we still need a fan to suck out the hot air produced in the PC case. So if the power supply does not have a fan, we will have to attach one to the case. However, it is not impossible to build a PC case which does not require a fan to suck out the hot air. I would be happy to see a product like that.


I think it is strange that the article does not even mention replacing the hard disk with an SSD. Hard disks are still a major source for noise in modern PCs.

I would be more than satisfied if they would test out some AMD platforms, such as Athlon X2 245+785G motherboard. I have a HTPC of this configuration. It is cool when idle, just that the power supply fan is too noisy. :-)
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0
February 23, 2010 6:43:34 AM

meh...shows intel raps up both ends of the spectrum: power and extreme high end, except for the price/performance parts (in low budget)
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-8
February 23, 2010 6:49:34 AM

I do not even see the point of rating a computer based on efficiency. I mean understand that efficiency has its purpose for some products. Take cars for example, some people want to go fast and don't care about mpg and some do. It makes me laugh when I see when one HD is rate at 10 watts under load while the competition is 9 watts and the faster is uses 10 watts but is docked for that power consumption. Even if you ran a business that saving of a watt would probably cost you more when you figure the performance lost of your employees waiting for the HD to access. The initial price of the HD would matter more anyway because if the not so efficient HD is 30 dollars less, and efficient HD is 30 dollars more, what difference does it make that a hard drive will save 20 bucks over three years. You are still paying 10 bucks for "efficiency". Same goes for every computer product, just buy what you need, for the best price, at the best quality you can afford.
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-8
February 23, 2010 7:44:21 AM

Cool.

Get a high binned i5-660, and run as low a stable voltage as you possibly can with HT off (since atleast with the LGA 1366's, HT puts a heavy impact on the voltage needed for stability) with all luck, .20 vcore under, run dual channel DDR3 at 1066 and as low a voltage as possible ( I never noticed a difference between triple channel 1800MHz and dual channel 1066Hz on my i7 rig really), a 80GB Intel x18-m, which only cost $200 (network drive for everything else), and a 5970 with triple 30" 2560x1600 SPVA panels.
=)
gladiator_mohaa said:
I do not even see the point of rating a computer based on efficiency. I mean understand that efficiency has its purpose for some products. Take cars for example, some people want to go fast and don't care about mpg and some do. It makes me laugh when I see when one HD is rate at 10 watts under load while the competition is 9 watts and the faster is uses 10 watts but is docked for that power consumption. Even if you ran a business that saving of a watt would probably cost you more when you figure the performance lost of your employees waiting for the HD to access. The initial price of the HD would matter more anyway because if the not so efficient HD is 30 dollars less, and efficient HD is 30 dollars more, what difference does it make that a hard drive will save 20 bucks over three years. You are still paying 10 bucks for "efficiency". Same goes for every computer product, just buy what you need, for the best price, at the best quality you can afford.

Hmm...
1W/h*24h*365x3y= 26280W
26.28KWh*$0.12/KWh= $3.15
Assuming 24h/365d usage for 3 years, which I'm sure for most business computers, 8.5h a day is more likely, with 240 days a year (assuming 5 days a week, 20 days for vacation and sick days), that's 8.5h*240d*3y/1000*$0.12= $0.73

I'm not going to give a bloody hell about 1 watt on a drones hard drive. I do care that my family members have an affliction with 100W incandescent light bulbs, as I'm more of a 15W fluorescent type myself.
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2
February 23, 2010 8:04:17 AM

thank you for using a proper psu for doing efficency testing. you could have gone with something even smaller like ~100w. the hdd could have been easily replaced by a ssd not only for power usage but for performance, noise etc. a passive cooling solution could have dropped the power consumption even lower. guess the voltages could have been a lot lower, at least that is very possible on amd platforms. would have been nice to see a amd config built with efficency in mind (something like a power efficent 785 mobo and a dual core undervolted).

i'm really happy to see a config built for efficency.
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3
February 23, 2010 9:11:26 AM

I like these builds. They are a refreshing break from the "oh lets built a bang for your buck gaming pc" that everyone does
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1
February 23, 2010 9:31:43 AM

Yep ... another Intel paid for review by the guys who do it so well they will be forever remembered as the "IntelFanboitwins 1.0".

Please rate me up and I will talk to the Nigerian Paymaster General on your behalf.

This has been a short bout of unsponsored comic relief ...
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-5
February 23, 2010 9:33:29 AM

They blocked me from posting on any of their reviews ... I feel honoured.

/AMD fans carry reynod off for victory lap ... unceremonially dumping him in uppity's trough.
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-6
February 23, 2010 10:01:00 AM

oops ...

/facepalm
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-6
February 23, 2010 10:02:29 AM

abswindows7EVER THOUGHT OF A SSD ? SERIOUSLY ?



From Step 3: An Efficient Hard Drive

Of course, a solid state drive is also an option here, but the limited capacity would be an issue for most folks, and the increased cost would push the value of this build in the wrong direction. For that reason, a 2.5" mobile drive with more room for storage makes the best sense.


It's amazing to me that people feel a need to yell (all CAPS) and have not actually read the article completely - maybe skimmed it and missed a section.

I think the article is interesting, as that is a very low power goal. What was more surprising is how easy it was to accomplish.
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11
February 23, 2010 10:14:14 AM

Great article. These cpu's possess features that are very important for today. Children will understand this when they have to pay the utility bills.
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-5
Anonymous
February 23, 2010 10:29:35 AM

Anyone who has looked into low power computers knows that the PSU is the main thing to change to get efficiency. This is however always interesting reading to see just what figures you get with new hardware.

It would have been really interesting to see comparisons with different CPUs like the cheaper i3-530 or to see how many W you would "sacrifice" to get up to a i5-750 and a cheap Ati 5xxx card.

Nice work guys, I liked reading this article. =)
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2
February 23, 2010 11:16:45 AM

If anyone thinks Tom's Hardware is pro-Intel, you should take a look at the Best Gaming CPU For The Money February article. No Intel CPUs are recommended below i5 750, it's all AMD.
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1
February 23, 2010 11:21:22 AM

Nice build. How much is it cost?
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2
February 23, 2010 12:10:08 PM

Great article. As a system builder myself I love it when you do articles like this as it gives me new insights on my future builds. I always wonder about power draw and efficiency but since I do not have the proper equipment to measure it I rely on sites like Toms to do these articles.
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0
February 23, 2010 1:11:43 PM

Useless article, reminiscent of those car oil consumption tests done at idle (in the US if memory serves right). If my PC is idle, is goes to suspend then sleep then hibernate farily quickly.

I'd be interested in an "under typical conditions" test. That includes with a real HD, not one of those SSD geek toys.
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-4
February 23, 2010 1:25:26 PM

killerclickIf anyone thinks Tom's Hardware is pro-Intel, you should take a look at the Best Gaming CPU For The Money February article. No Intel CPUs are recommended below i5 750, it's all AMD.

Lets examine this. Starting with the i5 release date
Jan 4- Clarkdale review
Jan 4 - Mobile Clarkdale
Jan 5 - Clarkdale efficiency vs AMD (ie 32nm vs 40nm)
Jan 8 - P55 crossfire scaling
Jan 12 - Efficiency Explored, whats the perfect clock rate for I5 clarkdale
Jan 15 - Quad core cpus compared at 2.8ghz
Jan 19 - cpu roundup
Jan 25 - AMD PII 555 vs pentium 6950
Feb 2 - AES-NI Performance Analyzed
Feb 17 - Efficiency Explored - the perfect clock rate for the 15-661 (didn't we already see this?)
Feb 22 - cpu roundup
Feb 23 - Maximum efficiency- (yet another clarkdale article)

So here we have 10 pro Intel CPU articles vs 1 AMD article and 2 cpu roundups ... Beating a dead horse anyone?
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8
February 23, 2010 1:28:03 PM

While I may never again build another machine with an Intel IGP ("some" gaming will always be a possibility), I still appreciate articles like these.
Bang/buck seems to favor AMD pretty strongly these days, but bang/watt very definitely does not (e.g.: http://www.anandtech.com/bench/default.aspx?b=63&c=1 )
I agree with anamaniac that sweating a watt here, or a watt there, is hardly worthwhile, but I think misses the point. Eliminating energy waste (vs. energy use) is a lifestyle choice, not a one-time deal.
I will point out though, that many places (especially large installations) require PCs to be kept on 24/7 so they can be scanned and/or get updates pushed to them. Saving only a watt or two across 5000 PCs can add up.
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0
February 23, 2010 2:07:17 PM

I have a 17w pc, which I use as a bittorrent server. I keep it on 24*7. That is 17 watts at the ac plug. I am sure the i5 is faster than mine, but mine is an old intel pentium IIIm notebook that I had lying around, and so the cost was zero for me. My computer is fast enough to get the job done.

See http://www.weasel.com/comp_server_torrent.html for details.
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0
February 23, 2010 2:27:52 PM

A picopsu should have been better to use for power efficiency purposes, but still a interesting read I guess.
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2
February 23, 2010 3:08:04 PM

noob2222Lets examine this. Starting with the i5 release dateJan 4- Clarkdale reviewJan 4 - Mobile ClarkdaleJan 5 - Clarkdale efficiency vs AMD (ie 32nm vs 40nm)Jan 8 - P55 crossfire scalingJan 12 - Efficiency Explored, whats the perfect clock rate for I5 clarkdaleJan 15 - Quad core cpus compared at 2.8ghzJan 19 - cpu roundupJan 25 - AMD PII 555 vs pentium 6950Feb 2 - AES-NI Performance Analyzed Feb 17 - Efficiency Explored - the perfect clock rate for the 15-661 (didn't we already see this?)Feb 22 - cpu roundupFeb 23 - Maximum efficiency- (yet another clarkdale article)So here we have 10 pro Intel CPU articles vs 1 AMD article and 2 cpu roundups ... Beating a dead horse anyone?


Cry more? If you don't like the fact that they are reporting what is the current industry leader then put you head back into the sand until AMD makes a come back. I like AMD just as the next guy but its pretty obvious that your personally hurt that TOMS keeps doing articles about the current industry market which lacks a large amount of competition from AMD at the moment.
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-1
February 23, 2010 4:31:55 PM

I agree with a guy before that an article on a completely silent computer would be more interesting
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1
February 23, 2010 5:52:43 PM

Fascinating article. You just have to understand this project was not undertaken for gamers or enthusiasts. The implication for large mainstream companies with thousands of desktop pc's is enormous.
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February 23, 2010 5:53:36 PM

jeffunitI have a 17w pc, which I use as a bittorrent server. I keep it on 24*7. That is 17 watts at the ac plug. I am sure the i5 is faster than mine, but mine is an old intel pentium IIIm notebook that I had lying around, and so the cost was zero for me. My computer is fast enough to get the job done.See http://www.weasel.com/comp_server_torrent.html for details.

I was thinking the same thing, mine (PIII) uses 14W at the wall with the lid closed, can't beat that.
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0
February 23, 2010 6:07:24 PM

Thanks THG!! I have been waiting for an article like this.

I though had hope to see the G6950 or Core i3 530 vs. i5-661.

NB: Last year I builded a e7200/g31 (31 watt IDLE) based on your articles. I'll buy a new i3/H57 soon :-)

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0
February 23, 2010 6:11:31 PM

noob2222Lets examine this. Starting with the i5 release dateJan 4- Clarkdale reviewJan 4 - Mobile ClarkdaleJan 5 - Clarkdale efficiency vs AMD (ie 32nm vs 40nm)Jan 8 - P55 crossfire scalingJan 12 - Efficiency Explored, whats the perfect clock rate for I5 clarkdaleJan 15 - Quad core cpus compared at 2.8ghzJan 19 - cpu roundupJan 25 - AMD PII 555 vs pentium 6950Feb 2 - AES-NI Performance Analyzed Feb 17 - Efficiency Explored - the perfect clock rate for the 15-661 (didn't we already see this?)Feb 22 - cpu roundupFeb 23 - Maximum efficiency- (yet another clarkdale article)So here we have 10 pro Intel CPU articles vs 1 AMD article and 2 cpu roundups ... Beating a dead horse anyone?

So, your saying that once its been determined that Intel CPUs are destroying AMD, we are no longer allowed to mention said fact?
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-1
February 23, 2010 6:26:59 PM

Most sights will hit on it once or twice, but 10 times in 2 months, come on, come up with something useful or at least do a comparison. We all know 32nm vs 45nm who will win, but by how much? At least include some competition instead of just doing all these one sided articles. Could have put it up against an Athlon II x2 250, then determine how long it would have to run in order to pay for itself ($65 vs $200)
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6
February 23, 2010 6:34:35 PM

People need to realize that large companies that deploy thousands of computers are not going to care about this kind of setup because these are custom setups. Big companies would rather buy computers in bulk from sellers like Dell and HP with corporate warranties which won't be built like a computer in this article.
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1
February 23, 2010 6:56:02 PM

BTW According to X2 250, won't be this CPU + AMD785G chipset power consumption absolutely comparable? At few times lower price and even better 3D performance (ok, it's not for 3d games, but something like windows pinball from time to time :p )
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2
February 23, 2010 6:58:59 PM


Hmm I remember reading the usual reviews on other sites.. the Clarksdale i3 530, quite good performance/value.. the rest of the new chips, lukewarm response.

However on this site.. its the second coming of the Messiah. I'm not saying that the articles are biased.. but the sheer number of them.. theres gotta be marketing going on.

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2
February 23, 2010 9:14:21 PM

This was a great article and I hope THG continues to track the gains made on reducing power consumption along with the price comparisons with other Intel and AMD processors.

My preference would be to pay the extra costs no only for the lower power consumption but also the lower emanating noise.

btw, I really don't see this as much as a pro-Intel article as it since the author was very upfront about the additional cost as compared to a comparably powered AMD cpu.
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1
February 23, 2010 9:52:57 PM

Nice article. However, I don't quite understand, why are you using PC motherboards for doing such analysis, having trouble with undervolting the CPU and finding 200W power supply. I could imagine that a notebook motherboard will be more suitable for such setup.

My notebook 1.6GHz Centrino, with the screen switched off, is using 13.5W when idle. Atom 1.6 Ghz is actually more power hungry.

I'am sure that you can find a notebook with i5 to do the testing.
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-1
February 23, 2010 11:15:04 PM

cknobmanGreat article. ... I always wonder about power draw and efficiency but since I do not have the proper equipment to measure it I rely on sites like Toms to do these articles.


I use "P3 International P4400 Kill A Watt Electricity Usage Monitor" $20 at Amazon.
* Electricity usage monitor connects to appliances and assesses efficiency
* Large LCD display counts consumption by the kilowatt-hour
* Calculates electricity expenses by the day, week, month, or year
* Displays volts, amps, and wattage within 0.2 percent accuracy
* Compatible with inverters; designed for use with AC 115-volt appliances
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-1
February 24, 2010 12:56:33 AM

noob2222Lets examine this. Starting with the i5 release dateJan 4- Clarkdale reviewJan 4 - Mobile ClarkdaleJan 5 - Clarkdale efficiency vs AMD (ie 32nm vs 40nm)Jan 8 - P55 crossfire scalingJan 12 - Efficiency Explored, whats the perfect clock rate for I5 clarkdaleJan 15 - Quad core cpus compared at 2.8ghzJan 19 - cpu roundupJan 25 - AMD PII 555 vs pentium 6950Feb 2 - AES-NI Performance Analyzed Feb 17 - Efficiency Explored - the perfect clock rate for the 15-661 (didn't we already see this?)Feb 22 - cpu roundupFeb 23 - Maximum efficiency- (yet another clarkdale article)So here we have 10 pro Intel CPU articles vs 1 AMD article and 2 cpu roundups ... Beating a dead horse anyone?


I slightly disagree with you on this. I will agree, however, that *certain* authors (ahemPatrick and Adamahem) do show an Intel bias.

On the contrary, Cleeve seems to one of the best when it comes to balance and fairness in his articles (not to slight anyone else).
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1
February 24, 2010 2:37:06 AM

The real point here is that if you have a home server, it runs 24x7. A "normal" desktop with i7 and decent graphics card will be near 100 watts at idle. At 120watts and a cost of 10cents per KW Hour, you are looking at 120watts x .001 KW/W x 24 hours x 365 days x .10 $/hr = $105 per year.

Given that many of the "geeky" types run Folding@home or other process, their computer can run 150-400 watts CONTINUOUSLY. This is a serious amount of money. Consider an office building or school with hundreds of PC's..... Clearly, in many cases there is something to be gained from having sufficient performance, but not excessive.
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-1
February 24, 2010 2:58:40 AM

BTW: I appreciate the article greatly. In particular, I have a home server that runs VMware and a copy of Win Server 2008 and Gentoo. The problem in the past is that Windows runs PlayOn and needs enough guts to handle transcoding to our PS3. Additionally, I run a firewall and backup server along with network mounted home directories for all the machines in the house. Finally, gentoo is running Asterisk VOIP and a power data logging system for my solar and wind install.

The existing server (even running WinXP alone) comes in at about 50-70watts, but never goes lower and can barely keep up with the Playon transcoding. My desktop i7 is near 100 watts minimum and 470 peak.

I am trying to get our household power requirements down to a point that the wind and solar can keep up with average usage without spending $50G's on power equipment. Unlike CA and CO, my state does not offer any type of alternate power rebates. Plus, I really like to tinker with stuff :) 
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0
February 24, 2010 9:47:24 AM

Noob2222 has a point.

Toms just churns out Intel articles like they are paid advertorials ... which they clearly are.

I do not include Chris or Don in this criticism ... or Markus ... their articles are all first rate, unbiased, and they are always keen to post in the forums to clarify things with the users.

I have a lot of respect for reviewers who post / respond, and they are always keen to pursue ideas for new articles.


These guys seem to think we are unworthy of them or something.

Maybe they really believe their own rhetoric ...
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1
February 24, 2010 11:13:08 AM

Sounds like an urge for people to go green.
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0
Anonymous
February 24, 2010 1:34:15 PM

this is an abomination shhhh
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0
February 24, 2010 2:51:54 PM

obarthelemyHere's a much better article on the subject: http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/p [...] stigated/1

very nice article, interesting that the intel 15 530 used more power than AMD's Athlon II 240e at stock. Makes you wonder who would actually win in a low power tweakers shootout. But then again, it may make Intel look bad if a 45nm part beat out a 32nm part.
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0
February 24, 2010 3:37:24 PM

How come these Tom's power measurements show so low power draw when idling? 35 W!
Every other test setup I've seen around the web has idle power draw 50+ Watts.

Anyone?
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-1
February 24, 2010 5:03:37 PM

Quote:
How come these Tom's power measurements show so low power draw when idling? 35 W!
Every other test setup I've seen around the web has idle power draw 50+ Watts.

Because most other test uses an extra graphic card. The H55 CPU has the GPU built on the chip as integrated.

Why other test uses an extra graphic card is silly, as the I3+I5 32 nm chips were designed to be with integrated grapics - and therefore no other PCI grapics card.
If you want really grapics you should by Core i7 / I5-750 or any other AMD chip and pair it with a resonably - not integrated - graphics card.
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0
February 24, 2010 5:59:30 PM

MygindBecause most other test uses an extra graphic card.


Well, there we go. Just like you say, MOST other tests use dedicated graphics. My point being that I haven't see ANY other test bed with 35 Watt's power draw. That actually includes also test beds with IGPs.
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February 25, 2010 9:47:55 PM

noob2222So here we have 10 pro Intel CPU articles vs 1 AMD article and 2 cpu roundups ... Beating a dead horse anyone?


AMD isn't dead, they just lost the CPU performance battle around five years ago and dropped prices in response. Then they lost the efficiency battle around three years ago and continued dropping prices. They've done a great job of competing in special cases, such as best gaming processor for the money, and everyone is hoping to see new technology from them soon. AMD is far from being a "dead horse".
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February 25, 2010 9:52:26 PM

reynodNoob2222 has a point.Toms just churns out Intel articles like they are paid advertorials ... which they clearly are.I do not include Chris or Don in this criticism ... or Markus ... their articles are all first rate, unbiased, and they are always keen to post in the forums to clarify things with the users.I have a lot of respect for reviewers who post / respond, and they are always keen to pursue ideas for new articles.These guys seem to think we are unworthy of them or something.Maybe they really believe their own rhetoric ...


When you point one finger, four point back at you. As for me, if you saw where I lived you'd wonder what I was doing with all that Intel money, LOL.
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!