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Power Consumption

System Builder Marathon: $2,500 Enthusiast PC

Power consumption testing is new to our SBM, so this month’s overclocked $2,500 PC can only be compared to its stock settings.

While we didn’t record the former build’s power consumption, we did notice the reading because it was connected to a global power meter during tests. The overclocked $4,500 PC consumed approximately 800 W at full GPU and CPU load. It certainly would have been interesting to compare its idle power as well, but at least we can see how much of an impact overclocking our current PC has on the power grid. Our CPU is rated to consume no more than 130 W under full load, so an increase of around 170 W at full load means that our overclock more than doubled peak CPU power consumption.

Environmentalists would love to point out how this energy could be used more effectively to do nearly anything else, but the overclock isn’t causing the full amount of energy loss all the time. Since most PCs spend most of the day at or near idle, the idle power difference is probably most important.

The problem for anyone seeking excuses is that even at idle, the overclocked PC pulled 58 W more than at stock speed. It might only be enough power to light a 60 W incandescent bulb, but it’s also enough power to light four fluorescent bulbs of the same luminosity, a mid-performance notebook, or even a complete low-power PC.

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