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G31 And E7200: The Real Low-Power Story

G31 And E7200: The Real Low-Power Story

Combining minimal power requirements with decent desktop performance seemed to be a nearly insurmountable task for many years, but it now seems to be possible. There are processors and chipsets on the market that will allow you to run a decent desktop system at a very low idle power level, while providing amped-up CPU performance when it’s needed. We’ re taking a look at two motherboards, which their vendors Foxconn and Gigabyte aim at power-conscious customers, and pairing them to one of the most affordable mainstream processors on the market: Intel’s Core 2 Duo E7200.

Efficient Computing Requires Reasonable Components

When you want to create a truly efficient computer, you must bid farewell to some of the components that you may have once taken for granted. First of all, it is necessary to avoid hardware that increases idle power without doing anything important—this includes all add-on cards and drives that you may not really need, as well as most high-end or enthusiast products, and discrete graphics cards in particular. Once this decision has been made, you can go ahead and select your components according to your efficiency goals.

Upper mainstream and high-end graphics cards are typically some of the most power-hungry, as most are optimized for 3D features and performance— often at the cost of high power consumption. Despite recent optimizations in Nvidia’s lineup, for instance, most high-end cards still don’t offer sufficient power saving options, resulting in idle power requirements of graphics cards that match or even exceed the power requirements of an entire entry-level PC. While a high power requirement is not an issue as long as you get something in return, components in idle mode don’t provide any benefit, so we demand minimum idle power during times of low or no activity. In the case of our test systems, this meant we bid farewell to gaming in order to stay with the integrated graphics unit. Luckily, there is always the option of upgrading to a discrete graphics card down the road should it be something you’re missing.

Components: Core 2 Duo E7200 and G31

Once you accept the fact that powerful graphics, high-end components, and numerous disk drives cannot be part of an efficient low-power computer, you can choose the right foundation for your machine. We went with a mainstream Core 2 Duo E7200processor manufactured using 45 nm technology, which runs on a 1,066 MHz FSB with a 2.53 GHz core speed. Unlike the E8000-series, the E7200 has only 3 MB rather than 6 MB L2 cache. We’re also arming this setup with 4 GB of RAM and a nimble 7,200 RPM hard drive.

We decided to look at two motherboards using Intel’s G31 chipset: Foxconn’s G31MG-S and Gigabyte’s GA-EG31MF-S2. Both are reasonable platforms for our high-efficiency PC project.

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  • 0 Hide
    dirtmountain , October 10, 2008 7:16 AM
    Nice article. I'd like to see the team now take this budget system and tweak it into a gaming machine. New power supply, overclock it, 4870 GPU and see what this budget platform can do when pushed. Compare it to a stock clock E8600, X48 motherboard, 8 GB of RAM and a 4870. Although low power systems may be the rage right now, when i turn a 1,500w electric heater on in the bathroom when i take a shower in the morning it's not a huge concern for me if one mobo is 31w at idle and the other is 38w.
  • -1 Hide
    jawshoeaw , October 10, 2008 7:56 AM
    You don't leave your heater on 24/7 in the bathroom - 8 watts here 8 watts there, it adds up (if you keep your PC on all the time)
  • -2 Hide
    genored , October 10, 2008 8:05 AM
    Or you can get a 4X50E with a 740g or 780g, that is cheaper and equal energy efficient and has all the futures like HDMI, 3D performance.

  • 0 Hide
    cangelini , October 10, 2008 9:43 AM
    alex57340141As far as turning this machine into a mean, green gaming machine, I would suggest an e2140-bsel pin modded to 1333 fsb, a hitachi 500GB sataII drive-4w/8.3 idle/max, and a hd 4670 videocard-no external power plug required. This would make a very potent rig. I know this because that's what I have on the foxconn board used in this article One last thing, with case, p/w supply and 2Gb ram the total cost (including shipping) was less than $300.

    Sounds like a nice build!
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , October 10, 2008 10:50 AM
    Yes, from the silentpcreview article, it seems like 740g or 780g could be a better choice.
  • -3 Hide
    genored , October 10, 2008 11:30 AM
    ano2Yes, from the silentpcreview article, it seems like 740g or 780g could be a better choice.

    Ya most people would do just fine with an amd system. But TOM's got new free computers, car's, spaceships from INTEL and NVIDA so nowadays tom's are a EPIC bias.
  • -8 Hide
    warezme , October 10, 2008 12:38 PM
    I don't get it? These mobo/cpu combos are so lame. The atom on a desktop mobo is also very lame. How far should people go to save a few watts of power. These machines are in my opinion totally useless.

    Why not just buy a laptop? I have a Dell M1330 with Nvidia card graphics fast dual core processor that easily runs Vista w/Aero, runs Photoshop CS3 I use to edit field RAW photography, and plays HalfLife 2 at full res with ease. It draws around 30W at full load and 20W in idle, and has HDMI out for watching movies, not to mention how small it is. It dual boots both Vista/WinXP.
  • 2 Hide
    Erdrick , October 10, 2008 12:46 PM
    Now that we have desktop systems that approach laptop-level power requirements, I would say that in a year that we should have some really good choices on the market for low-power-consumption desktops.

    That is... if the world still exists as we know it in a year...
  • 1 Hide
    skythra , October 10, 2008 1:17 PM

    warezme you are a retard.

    Where I work there are currently 120 desktops between 4 levels. Each desktop is on 24/7. If i can save 10 watts on each of those desktops im saving thousands of dollars per year. Get it now? Just because you are a gaming scrub with no clue doesnt mean that all technology should appeal to you.
  • -7 Hide
    warezme , October 10, 2008 1:33 PM
    Skythra your apparently nothing but an A hole of major proportions and if you honestly thing your users will get by on the measly performance offered by these equally tarded setups as you are, to save "10 wats" than go for it because it sounds like your deserve them....
  • 2 Hide
    Niva , October 10, 2008 1:57 PM
    Calm down folks. Warezme, there are people interested in these setups, they just need to run internets and word. While the components are indeed weak it is not lame to write about them, esp for business perspective.

    Skythra, no need to call someone retard for expressing an opinion which I agree with by the way. These desktops are really nerfed and a laptop would fit nicely as prices have dropped a lot.

    Carry on now.
  • 2 Hide
    philosofool , October 10, 2008 2:03 PM

    Get serious. This machine has ample power for the standard office productivity applications, which probably represents 90% of the use of computers in the world, including in the corporate sector. The difference between these builds and a stacked $2000 machine is almost totally invisible to such users. Indeed, the only people that would really notice the difference are the people writing check to the utility companies.
  • 2 Hide
    Pei-chen , October 10, 2008 3:03 PM
    I like AMD but I am no AMD fan boy. The only AMD X2 chips that come close to E7200 is 6000+ and 6400+ and they use a lot more power. In addition, if for some reason, I need more power than 2.53 GHz I can just OC to 3.0 GHz without voltage increase. Find an X2 that can achieve 3.8 GHz with reasonable voltage.
  • 1 Hide
    taz23340 , October 10, 2008 3:12 PM
    At work I had a choice between an HP laptop or desktop, I took the laptop for work at home, but If i did not go on road, a g31/e7200 setup would demolish my t7300 laptop with 2gig ram on a 800 bus with ddr2 667.
    I dont play a single game on this laptop but i do watch a movie here and there...and its the g31 would be more than enough....

    I just have one more comment regarding recent toms is a 1,500$ system a budget system...I dont have the money to buy that when i'm gaming once in a blue moon.

    I built a system for about 400$ and comes close to some of these e2160 chip at 2.6ghz, 2 gig ram, asus p35 board, and asus 8600gt, an 80g sata drive for the os and an older sata 200g for some tunes and pics....and i bought a cm 690 case with cm5500 extreme power ps....the only thing in their i wish i could change at the mobo(settings dont allow for good overclock) and the power supply is loud...but that system is close to what i can afford....spending 1500$ to me is not budget, not when your putting a quad core and other stuff, a budget system should be that, on a budget, shopping for deals....etc...oh and if ya wanna save power...shut the mofo down....if your woried on how much a small system will cost on electricity you should have bought the system....just like the idiots that buy a dodge ram v8 and have never put more than a few pieces of wood in it and cant afford the 150$ gas bill each week.....
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , October 10, 2008 3:24 PM
    GMA 3100 is NOT based on GMA 3000 - this is totally different. It is based on the older GMA 950 (pretty much 100% identical in fact).
  • -2 Hide
    smyter_m , October 10, 2008 3:31 PM
    I would like to see a amd comparison, such as the AMD Athlon 4850e 2.3GHz paired with a FoxConn A7GM-S. This is a $135 pairing as opposed to the Intel reviewed which is $175.
  • 1 Hide
    deck , October 10, 2008 3:35 PM
    Warezme, i don't think you have a very good understanding of how some people use cmoputers. Not everyone uses their comps for gaming and not everyone can use a laptop to meet their needs. I personally run a X2 4450e on a 780g chipset to house my raid array. This setup runs quieter, cooler and draws less power than my previous P4 setup.

    Just because you cannot see a use for this technology does not mean the rest of the world cannot. Some of us care about how much power we use.
  • 0 Hide
    sdcaliceli , October 10, 2008 4:24 PM
  • 0 Hide
    DXRick , October 10, 2008 4:43 PM
    Why not just get a laptop??? You would also save power with its LCD screen versus a separate monitor.

    Isn't this what many people requiring a non-gaming machine are doing these days??
  • 0 Hide
    genored , October 10, 2008 5:10 PM
    smyter_mI would like to see a amd comparison, such as the AMD Athlon 4850e 2.3GHz paired with a FoxConn A7GM-S. This is a $135 pairing as opposed to the Intel reviewed which is $175.

    are you blind?, check my post on page one
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