Do-It-Yourself Solar-Powered PC: Hardware

Best Choice: AMD Athlon 64 X2 BE-2350

The Heart of our Solar PC: the AMD Athlon 64 X2 BE-2350

In choosing a CPU for our solar-powered PC, we put strong emphasis on two criteria: low power consumption and a dual core architecture.

To prepare for our selection we studied the energy consumption of various processors. We learned, for example that the AMD Sempron 64 uses very little power, but we didn't consider it for our system because it includes only a single CPU core.

Power consumption of CPUs when idle

In our solar-powered PC we have to worry about every watt drawn, because all of the necessary energy comes from our solar panels, not from a wall socket as with most modern PCs.

Power consumption of CPUs fully loaded

If you look at our measurements of power consumption at idle and under load, the AMD Athlon 64 X2 BE-2350 represents a good combination. It consumes only 8.49 W when idle, and 38.66 W when fully loaded. Intel's Core 2 processor with L2-stepping may use a little less power, but our measurements also showed us that the motherboards in which they must be housed use too much energy. On the one side you find the memory controller in the chipset, and on the other side you find the energy consumption from Intel and Nvidia chipsets generally higher. The lower power consumption of the Core 2 processor is negated by these higher numbers. That's why we selected an AMD processor for our solar-powered PC - namely, the Athlon 64 X2 BE-2350.

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12 Volt Solar-PC-System
ComponentIdleMax load
PSU5.00 W14.20 W
CPU8.49 W38.66 W
Total:61.23 W115.60 W
max. 160 Watt Custom PSU
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  • Raigedas
    i bought this M2-ATX PSU (actually to of them). but i was unable to start it.

    1. first quick question: is it possible to start (for testing purposes) the PSU without connecting it to the computer? is it enough to short circuit J8 only to start?

    2. docummentation is unclear about 10 (J6). it looks like J6 is purely for controlling stereo amplifier. but other place of the manual says "if J6 is cnnected to the motherboard". where to motherboard?

    3. how should PSU be connected?
    for testing i have taken 12V 7Ah lead acid battery fully charged.
    connected battery "-" to J4.
    battery "+" to J1.
    J3: tried to leave not connected and tried to connect battery "+".
    disconnected power switch cable from motherboard and connected it to J9.
    connected J8 with motheboard (using little cable included in the package) where power switch was originally connected.
    left J6 not connected.
    J10 not connected (P0 mode). also tried P1 mode.
    connected ATX and P4 (J2).
    pressed power on my pc but nothing happened and no voltage on MOLEX cable.

    could authors of the article (or maybe other owner of the PSU) describe how did they start the PSU?