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A Greener Home Office: Belkin Smart AV And Moneual Sonamu G100

Moneual Sonamu G100

Earlier this year, Moneual showed off its new Sonamu micro-ATX case. Sonamu is derived from the Korean word for pine tree. This is Moneual’s way of emphasizing how much each of our carbon footprints can be minimized by cutting power consumption.

Overall, the build quality of this chassis is average at best. Compared to some of our recently-reviewed mini-ITX cases, this solution is similar to Antec’s ISK 310-150. Moneual isn't trying to be fancy with the Sonamu's looks. This is simply stamped steel with a coat of black paint. All of the edges are partially tapered, but some are still rather sharp, so caution is recommended.

Priced at $140, the construction of the chassis feels lacking. The power button is loose, and is made of rather thin plastic. In addition, the I/O panel door requires quite a bit of force to open and close.

Update (7/26/2011): Moneual just let us know that it now offers a version of the G100 with an 80 PLUS Bronze power supply (still a 300 W model) for $150. This doesn't change any of the conclusions made in the rest of the piece, and in fact means you pay more upfront for potential savings down the road via improved efficiency.

Clearly, the Sonamu's focus isn't high-end construction. Instead, Moneual puts its emphasis squarely on saving energy. As part of this eco-friendly theme, there is a dedicated button located near the top of the case that puts the system into hibernate/deep sleep mode. The manual completely lacks instructions on enabling this function, but there is a four-pin plug that goes into a motherboard's front-panel USB connector that enables this feature.

The power supply is where all the action happens. Upon opening it, we find a surprisingly simple design. The energy-saving feature driving the Sonamu's marketing is simply a big resistor with an electrical switch attached. The front on/off switch (grey cable) functions as a kill switch to cut all power to the PC, including power that would otherwise be leeched when the computer is turned off.

The auxiliary power outlet is similar to Belkin's Conserve Smart AV in that it's power depends on power drawn from the master outlet. Instead, it passes power through when the circuit tied to the pictured four-pin Molex connector is active. If this cable is not connected to the power supply, the auxiliary power circuit does not receive current when the system is on, and no power is supplied to peripherals. If you want to control more than one device controlled this way, you'll need a power strip, unfortunately.

  • compton
    I'm no eco-terrorist, but I do consider power efficiency of my PC as one metric of it's performance -- one I do try to make lower in general. I have a 80+ gold PSU. I'm using a 2500k and SSDs. Even with my GTX 460, Asus Essence STX soundcard, ect I max out at ~208 watts at the wall during intensive games.

    If you really want to save some electricity and have more fun doing it then build a more efficient PC. These two products are just a little too gimmicky. At least in a PC with efficient components you get less heat (and noise) as well as a lower utility bill. The energy cost to make and distribute these two products will far, far exceed any energy or power savings realized.

    Still, it's good to see a different style of review. I'd like to see more in the series (like the GPU energy cost article). I know there are some products out there that can make a difference when it comes to lower energy bills.

    Good job.
    Reply
  • alikum
    Disappointed with Belkin's customer support
    Reply
  • newnow
    yes,it look wonderful
    Reply
  • ngazi
    Really nice to know to avoid these things.
    Reply
  • Olle P
    There are other, more elusive and difficult to assess, factors involved as well:
    - Environmental impact during production of the equipment.
    - Environmental impact of storage and transportation to your home.
    - Environmental impact once the equipment is taken out of service.

    To reduce these effects one must use the equipment for as long as possible, and then possibly re-use it for less demanding tasks.

    Personally I use one of those "smart" power strips to kill everything but the 5Vsb line when the computer is off.
    Reply
  • JohnMD1022
    How about those of us who believe 'green' is a crock?
    Reply
  • MU_Engineer
    JohnMD1022How about those of us who believe 'green' is a crock?
    It's only a crock to people who have a basic grasp of math or any clue as to what manufacturing a product entails. For the rest of the people, it's an excellent and highly effective advertising strategy because it's an emotional argument and not a logical one. "Our product uses less power and are environmentally friendly." "Don't you want to save the environment?" The sheer number of highly non-environmentally-friendly to manufacture and uneconomical Priuses out on the road will tell you the "green guilt" ad strategy works very, very well.
    Reply
  • It's a crock sometimes, sometimes it's not. Just like most other things.

    Using a more efficient PSU or driving a Ford Fiesta instead of a Humvee is perfectly reasonable both for the environment and for the savings provided.

    But yes, not all green products are actually green. Not all low fat products are actually low fat, and so on. Are you really surprised?
    Reply
  • huron
    I do hate when everyone jumps on the "Green" bandwagon and uses it primarily for marketing, but I look forward to a day when I don't have to pay for heat or electricity, or at least as much...that'll be a great day in my world.

    The interesting thing about PCs and electronics in general is that they are always getting greener for the most part, right - newer generations use less power, produce less heat, and offer greater performance.

    I am an enthusiast, so I get that high-powered GPUs and CPU overclocks are not as green, but for the same power output, I have a significant jump in performance vs a machine only a few years old. Wouldn't it stand to reason that if I wanted the same performance, I could get it at less power = GREEN?
    Reply
  • jonahkirk
    Sticking these on smartly built, newer peripherals probably would never pay-out. However, if you have an older monitor, 5 yr. old Logitech 6.1 surround sound which your 3 kids never kill at the power button, older printer/scanners or an entertainment system with a variety of vampire appliances including powered subwoofers and gaming systems which only get put in stand-by, then these strips might save you some cash.
    Reply