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Efficiency: Pay Attention To The Power Supply!

Core 2 Quad Gets Efficient: Enter The Q8200S And Q9550S
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A key issue for creating a truly efficient system is the power supply. There are more and more really efficient units on the market, and the way to recognize them is an 80plus certification. This designation means that the power supply stays above 80% power efficiency (output power vs. input power) at 20%, 50% and 100% load. In addition, there are 80plus Bronze, Silver and Gold labels, which require even better efficiency levels:


Efficiency at 20% Load
Efficiency at 50% Load
Efficiency at 100% Load
80plus
80%
80%
80%
80plus Bronze
82%
85%
82%
80plus Silver
85%
88%
85%
80plus Gold
87%
90%
87%


Most power supplies without 80plus specification fall between 65% and 75% power efficiency at their given loads. Hence, it makes sense to look for a truly efficient device. Cost is the only limit: be prepared to fork out $200 for the nicest 80plus Gold and Silver products. The 80plus Bronze devices are more affordable, but they easily reach $100 or more.

Efficiency At The Lowest Loads

Fortson FSP220: 220 W, low power, but high efficiency.Fortson FSP220: 220 W, low power, but high efficiency.

Another factor to consider is efficiency outside or below the specified 20% to 100% range. If you take a 1,000 W power supply and run a power efficient system such as the ones we used for this review, they will require only 40 W when idle. This means the power supply runs at a load of only 4%. In that case, even the best-designed PSUs start to become extremely inefficient. The result may be a 40 W system requiring 50-60 W when idle, and then it doesn’t make any sense to purchase efficient components anymore.

Power Supplies Used

We used three different power supplies to emphasize the importance of efficient PSUs. The first was the one we used for testing the Core 2 Quad S-series processors, a Fortron FSP220, which is a low-power, high efficiency PSU (220 W). We added an Enermax Pro82+ (PR425AWT, 425 W), which is an 80plus Bronze device that can be considered a very good choice for upper mainstream systems. Finally, we used another Enermax power supply, the EG565P-VE, which is roughly three years old and not as efficient as the others. Check out the benchmark section called Power Supply Impact for details.

Enermax’s Pro82+ at 425 W is an 80plus Bronze device that runs at a high efficiency level. Enermax’s Pro82+ at 425 W is an 80plus Bronze device that runs at a high efficiency level.

The Enermax EG565P is a rather old device. We used it to show the impact of an inefficient power supply unit on an efficient PC configuration.

Check prices for Intel's Core 2 Quad Q9400S

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Top Comments
  • 35 Hide
    afrobacon , March 9, 2009 6:20 AM
    It would have been nice if the benchmarks would have included the equivalent "non s" model core 2 quads.
  • 11 Hide
    Anonymous , March 9, 2009 2:02 PM
    any Overclocking?
Other Comments
  • 35 Hide
    afrobacon , March 9, 2009 6:20 AM
    It would have been nice if the benchmarks would have included the equivalent "non s" model core 2 quads.
  • 6 Hide
    Claimintru , March 9, 2009 6:38 AM
    Quote:
    The only real difference besides the power consumption level is their pricing, which is higher as a result of the lower energy use.


    Yay the money you save as a home user is completely negated by the price increase. 1.5 years later it might show, and by then your energy saving version of a processor that has been out already for months is even more obsolete.

    Big businesses however might benefit, but most workstation computers run on garbage parts just enough to keep a browser and word open.
  • -9 Hide
    zedx , March 9, 2009 6:41 AM
    What's the use of such overpriced products when you can get better efficiency with core i7 and similar idle consumption for only some $$$ more. And why only three processors? The review published at Anandtech http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/intel/showdoc.aspx?i=3505 more than a month ago is much better. (Of course it doesn't include Q8200s but that doesn't matter much)
  • 1 Hide
    macer1 , March 9, 2009 7:11 AM
    another "great" article...........

    like previously posted way to also bench the "NON s" model....
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , March 9, 2009 9:21 AM
    This would\'ve been a great product a year or two ago, but IMHO it\'s only a smart buy today if let\'s say you\'re still holding on to your original Conroe Core2 e6300 that you bought the day it came out, and want to upgrade to a quad(assuming that your motherboard will support it, I believe we\'ve all been dissapointed before wanting to upgrade an Intel CPU and discovering that we have the right socket, but the wrong chipset...).
  • 11 Hide
    Anonymous , March 9, 2009 2:02 PM
    any Overclocking?
  • 5 Hide
    sublifer , March 9, 2009 2:10 PM
    afrobaconIt would have been nice if the benchmarks would have included the equivalent "non s" model core 2 quads.


    I at least expected the power consumption and power measurements to compare the non-"S" models.
    While it is nice to know how these quads do compared to a dual core, we all want to know whether its worth the investment buying the "S" version rather that the std. models currently available.
  • 2 Hide
    gaiden2k7 , March 9, 2009 2:19 PM
    I was kind of jumping back and forward did it ever mention how the 'S' cpu's overclocks compared to the non-'s' ones? I keep thinking lower TDP would actually reduce the O.C. capabilities. And ya, wished they would have compared it w/ the non-'s' ones... bummer.
  • 7 Hide
    thejerk , March 9, 2009 2:31 PM
    No, it didn't give any overclocking information, which would have been nice. And, certainly, comparisons to the non-S versions should have been included. The article is somewhat silly without the comparison.
  • 8 Hide
    hardwarekid9756 , March 9, 2009 2:32 PM
    These benches are worthless without comparing them to the equivilent Q8200/Q9550. Why do I care how these new things compare to the E8500, and not the other Q-series chips they're replacing? It's cool to have a dual-core in there...but please...comparative gogo?
  • 4 Hide
    68vistacruiser , March 9, 2009 2:38 PM
    I have to agree with a lot of posters that the non-s versions should have been included. I do think some people would have liked to see over-clock figures, but I'm happy to see real-life comparisons. Final thoughts: this should help bring down the non-s prices, which works for me. And please people, don't bring up Anandtech ... their benchmarks are suspect as I feel they favor their best advertisers, and they like to block out opposing opinions on their website. I gave up on them several years ago after following their advise and making some pretty bad decisions. Never again!
  • 6 Hide
    KyleSTL , March 9, 2009 2:47 PM
    The 80Plus chart states that Gold requires 97% efficiency at 100% load. Please correct it to state 87%. Thanks.
  • 0 Hide
    A Stoner , March 9, 2009 5:00 PM
    Supply and demand determine prices. They feel the demand for the low power processors is enough that the prices will sell them out of supply. If they cannot move the parts fast enough at the price, the price will drop, or they will stop binning for that power envelope, even though the processors will still be lower power.
  • 4 Hide
    hellwig , March 9, 2009 6:12 PM
    If you had compared these quad-cores to, say an E8300 running at 2.83GHz, wouldn't we have seen the Q9550S use twice as much power at 100% load, seeing as a Q9550S is basically two E8300's slapped together.

    Also, why wouldn't Intel market their 45nm duo's at a lower TDP (AMD likes their 45W TDP BE-series Athlons). Seems to me nothing adds up here.

    I'll be waiting for more meaningfull benchmark comparisons.
  • 3 Hide
    jerreece , March 9, 2009 8:27 PM
    I have to agree with the others. This review REALLY needs to compare these energy efficient models with their, less efficient brethren. That's where the real difference is.

    And I have to admit, I'd like to have seen some OC numbers. My first thought when I saw the article was, "Oh cool, maybe they'll OC higher now too."

    Of course I have no idea if the chips OC at all now. :( 
  • 3 Hide
    judeh101 , March 9, 2009 9:16 PM
    what happened to the overclock?
  • 1 Hide
    marraco , March 9, 2009 9:42 PM
    65 W CPU generally are the better overclockers. Overclocking is the really important information that I want from this article, and compared with the same model at 95W, and other equally costly processor.

    It allow to decide best buys.
  • 2 Hide
    cadder , March 9, 2009 10:09 PM
    The overclocking ability is a big question. But then most businesses that use these would not overclock anyway. And maybe energy efficient quads would find their way into more laptops.

    I've been curious about processors like the P9500. It seems to be a fairly fast dual core processor, and it is at only 25W. Are they not used in desktops because of their high price? Was energy saving in a desktop not considered important until recently?
  • 0 Hide
    russofris , March 9, 2009 10:43 PM
    Any chance you can an E6600 to the graphs to give us a good baseline for comparison?
  • 0 Hide
    marraco , March 9, 2009 10:57 PM
    cadderThe overclocking ability is a big question. But then most businesses that use these would not overclock anyway. And maybe energy efficient quads would find their way into more laptops.I've been curious about processors like the P9500. It seems to be a fairly fast dual core processor, and it is at only 25W. Are they not used in desktops because of their high price? Was energy saving in a desktop not considered important until recently?

    On my work, it was decided to buy 2 new computers. I changed it to 5 computers, with the same budget, better performing, without overclocking, and wich I gonna overclock for sure.
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