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1 Watt Active Cooling Takes Very Little Power

Do-It-Yourself Solar-Powered PC: Hardware
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When it comes to cooling our solar-powered PC, we could have taken either of two basic approaches: either cool the processor actively with a cooler, or construct some kind of passive cooling system. To help decide which way to go, we measured the processor's energy consumption at various temperatures.

We have measured the energy consumption of the processor under different temperatures.

Energy consumption for a passively and actively cooled processor

The stock cooler included with the processor consumed about 1 W at maximum fan rotation. If we used a passive cooler instead, the energy consumption of the Athlon 64 X2 BE-2350 increased by about 1.1 W in "Cool and Quiet" mode, and by a hefty 12 W at full load.

CPU and cooler on the test system motherboard

CPU and cooler on the test system motherboard

Although the CPU cooler fan consumes a steady stream of energy, the use of processor power decreases when it's active. Because our Gigabyte motherboard includes a fan controller, the fan is also very quiet. Thus, we decided to employ active cooling, due to the better energy budget it gave us to work with.

12 Volt Solar-PC-System
Component Idle Max load
PSU 5.00 W 14.20 W
CPU 8.49 W 38.66 W
Cooler 1.00 W 1.00W
Total: 61.23 W 115.60 W
max. 160 Watt Custom PSU
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