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Power Consumption of a Typical PC While Gaming

timothy posted about 6 years ago | from the slurping-it-up dept.

Displays 211

cliffski writes "How much does your PC really draw in terms of power when idle, when in sleep, and when playing a demanding game? I don't trust everything the manufacturers of hardware say, so I thought I'd get myself a watt measuring device and run a few tests on some of the gear I leave on all the time, and the gear I go to the trouble of turning off. The Linksys router drew 8 watts, the monitor drew a fairly noticeable 30-31, but what surprised me was how little power the base unit drew, even when playing Company of Heroes. Also, the variance of power draw for Vista seemed minimal, regardless of what you got the machine to do."

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211 comments

FP (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23938475)

Biznitches!

Actually, if you get one of Stardock's utilities it will give you an average cost to run your PC. Running mine 24X7 costs about $200-$250 a year.

Re:FP (2, Funny)

Kuroji (990107) | about 6 years ago | (#23938511)

I don't suppose you would be willing to tell us WHICH ONE IT IS, now, would you?

Re:FP (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23938923)

Running mine 24X7 costs about $200-$250 a year.

Is that Vista or XP? I'd be curious to know how much more it costs people to run Vista. Even with its better power management, running the CPU & GPU more will end up using more power.

What about my A/C kicking into overdrive? (5, Insightful)

CambodiaSam (1153015) | about 6 years ago | (#23938493)

What about the thermal impact? I live in a hot climate, so leaving a PC on seems to have a big impact on the temperature of the room. Sure, I might use a couple hundred Watts to run the gear, but what about the electricity required for the A/C to cool the room back down?

Hey, when it's 100 deg F outside, I notice the difference.

Re:What about my A/C kicking into overdrive? (2, Funny)

AkaKaryuu (1062882) | about 6 years ago | (#23938543)

I've had a _very_ notible temperature change in my old apartment when both my friend and I ran our Macbook Pros. Them's hot laptops. Makes you wonder what kind of damage they do to the little friend in your pants.

Re:What about my A/C kicking into overdrive? (1)

SoylentRed (1246018) | about 6 years ago | (#23938597)

I totally agree - not wanting to deal with swuts all the time - I use a board under either my macbookpro or my dell laptops...

Basically it's a hard thin board that was a place-mat for a dinner table.

Re:What about my A/C kicking into overdrive? (1)

QuantumHobbit (976542) | about 6 years ago | (#23938983)

Basically it's a hard thin board that was a place-mat for a dinner table.


Was I the only one expected some kind of innuendo there, or do I just have a dirty mind?

Re:What about my A/C kicking into overdrive? (2, Funny)

SoylentRed (1246018) | about 6 years ago | (#23939133)

Was I the only one expected some kind of innuendo there, or do I just have a dirty mind?


Dirty mind if I told you I balanced it on only 1 "table-leg"?

Re:What about my A/C kicking into overdrive? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23939391)

Dell doesn't sell laptops; they sell notebook computers. Implying to the customer that they should put the computer on their lap is considered to create liability for the company and is a firable offense.

Re:What about my A/C kicking into overdrive? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23939781)

Really? http://www.dell.com/ [dell.com]

Re:What about my A/C kicking into overdrive? (1)

argent (18001) | about 6 years ago | (#23939027)

If you can use your Macbook Pro on your lap you've got tougher *legs* than I do, let alone anything you keep between them.

Re:What about my A/C kicking into overdrive? (5, Interesting)

bughunter (10093) | about 6 years ago | (#23939339)

No kidding. I bought a MBP almost two years ago, and a few weeks after I bought it, I got into the nightly habit of using it on my lap in front of the TV to browse the web and play games while my wife watched her programs.

A few weeks after that [this is in January mind you] I began waking up in the mornings with an especially acute itchy rash in my groin area, which I had never suffered from before. After a couple of weeks of being unable to cure myself of it, and the rash becoming angry and painful, I finally went to the doctor and was diagnosed with Tinea Cruris [wikipedia.org] . The doctor asked me if I had begun using a sauna or spa regularly, to which I replied negatively...

He then asked me if I had recently purchased a laptop computer. And that's when the lightbulb went on.

After four weeks of twice daily showers, blow drying the affected area, and applying Lotrimin, the rash went away. And I no longer rest my laptop on my lap when in use.

Re:What about my A/C kicking into overdrive? (1)

WK2 (1072560) | about 6 years ago | (#23940157)

Unless you checked to make sure the batteries were not Sony, you shouldn't be resting a laptop on your lap anyway.

Re:What about my A/C kicking into overdrive? (4, Funny)

Kingrames (858416) | about 6 years ago | (#23940305)

You might be a geek, if your laptop gave you the itch.

Re:What about my A/C kicking into overdrive? (1, Redundant)

BlackSnake112 (912158) | about 6 years ago | (#23940601)

Should that be the other way around?

If you laptop gave you the itch, you might be a geek.

Re:What about my A/C kicking into overdrive? (4, Funny)

OglinTatas (710589) | about 6 years ago | (#23940679)

you're lucky it was just crotch rot. Dell laptops have the dubious distinction of being the first such devices to cause penis burns.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2002/11/22/man_burns_penis_with_laptop/ [theregister.co.uk]

I _always_ use a lap "desk" (a flat board on top, some padding on the bottom) when I use my macbook pro, to prevent just such a thing. As you know, it gets pretty warm.

Bad Latitude (2, Funny)

argent (18001) | about 6 years ago | (#23941727)

Talk about your latitude adjustment.

Re:What about my A/C kicking into overdrive? (1)

Kneo24 (688412) | about 6 years ago | (#23940919)

That gives a whole new meaning to VD!

Your laptop burned your joystick! (1)

Tragedy4u (690579) | about 6 years ago | (#23941009)

Sorry couldn't resist

Re:What about my A/C kicking into overdrive? (1, Interesting)

DRAGONWEEZEL (125809) | about 6 years ago | (#23938553)

So does your computer, powersupplies get less efficeint the warmer the room is. So while your useing only 200 watts, at 70 degrees, at 85 degrees, it's probably past 250.

Re:What about my A/C kicking into overdrive? (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | about 6 years ago | (#23938687)

Interesting. Do you have any sources to backup that claim? (No criticism, just curious)

Re:What about my A/C kicking into overdrive? (4, Informative)

mr_mischief (456295) | about 6 years ago | (#23938855)

Any decent electronics project book will verify that any copper or aluminum wire will gain resistance with increasing temperature.

If you want a quick link, though, how about this article at Dan's Data about power supplies [dansdata.com] which actually gives some basic theory? It's a little suspect in that it's a review of a particular brand of power supply, and Dan's Data isn't as widely known as Tom's Hardware or Anandtech. What do you want from the very first Google result for the search "warmer power supplies draw more current", though? It also happens that he's right (about the issue, anyway -- I've never reviewed or purchased Topower power supplies).

Re:What about my A/C kicking into overdrive? (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | about 6 years ago | (#23939135)

Okay, I could have Googled, yes.... Alas my last physics classes were over 13 years ago... Thanks for explaining though.

Re:What about my A/C kicking into overdrive? (2, Informative)

camperslo (704715) | about 6 years ago | (#23940787)

Any decent electronics project book will verify that any copper or aluminum wire will gain resistance with increasing temperature.

While what you say is true, there is no reason to believe that resistance losses are a significant portion of the total losses in our power supplies or that it that those losses increase by a significant percentage over the temperature range seen. Without proper analysis, facts can be used to jump to the wrong conclusions. (compare with dangers/effects of high power microwaves and discussion of WiFi for example)

In power supplies I've built that were similar but not identical to PC supplies, most of the losses were switching/conduction losses in the power transistor(s) and in the rectifiers. In the case of the rectifiers the conducting voltage drop actually gets SMALLER at higher temperatures.
In practice, the main concern about elevated temperatures in a PC is an increase in the failure rates of components. Some simply fail if too hot. Thermal cycling can also cause cracks in solder connections over time. That means high temperature operation elevates failure rates both when it occurs and to a lesser extent later.

Re:What about my A/C kicking into overdrive? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 years ago | (#23940141)

Any first level electronics book will do.

Let's see what the DOE ahs to say, shall we?
http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/phy99/phy99x42.htm [anl.gov]

IT also discusses current; which is what we are really talking about here.

No sources needed (1)

Khyber (864651) | about 6 years ago | (#23941117)

Jut go to any store that sells computer power supplies. Look at the box. Do you see 80 certified anywhere on that (you should see it on most boxes.)

That means the power supply converts at least 80% of the power drawn from the outlet into usable energy for the computer. So, if you have a 200 watt power supply, making 200 the 80%, you would be drawing around 250 watts of power.

Re:No sources needed (2, Informative)

pushing-robot (1037830) | about 6 years ago | (#23941747)

So, if you have a 200 watt power supply, making 200 the 80%, you would be drawing around 250 watts of power.

A very common fallacy is that a PSU always draws as many watts as it's rated for; in other words, a 500-watt PSU constantly draws 500 watts or more. This is incorrect; your PSU only supplies (and draws) as many watts as your computer currently needs.

"80-plus certified" means the PSU was tested to be 80% efficient at 25%, 50%, and 100% load. Assuming you have a fairly low-end system, your 200-watt PSU may never supply more than 100 watts, and therefore (being 80% efficient) never draw more than 125 watts. If you added a component to your system that consumed an extra 20 watts, your PSU would supply an additional 20 watts, and draw an additional 25 watts (again, 80% efficiency). Simple as that.

Re:What about my A/C kicking into overdrive? (4, Informative)

mollymoo (202721) | about 6 years ago | (#23941629)

So does your computer, powersupplies get less efficeint the warmer the room is. So while your useing only 200 watts, at 70 degrees, at 85 degrees, it's probably past 250.

Resistance does increase with temperature and a thermally controlled fan will spin faster and draw more current. But enough for a 25% rise in consumption from a 15 degree (in unspecified units, I guess you mean Fahrenheit) temperature rise? That's seems like a hell of a lot for a fairly modest rise in temperature.

For an 80% efficient power supply, an increase of 25% overall consumption is more than double the power loss. The reality is very complex, but we can pick out a few relevant numbers to get a feel for the magnitudes involved. Empirical testing would be easier than an analysis, but here's some food for thought:

For copper, the resistance rises by about 0.4% per degree Celsius rise. Your roughly 7 Celsius rise would increase it by a whopping 2.8%. You'll have melted the insulation well before even a 50% rise in the resistance of your copper wire.

If you look inside a power supply, you'll see a big fat heatsink. Attached to that are rectifiers and switches - diodes and FETs. That's where a big proportion of your power supply's inefficiency comes from. Looking at the first power FET datasheet I have to hand (for a Fairchild HUF75337P3), the on resistance increases by something like 1% per degree Celsius rise. For diodes because the forward voltage drop actually decreases with increasing junction temperature - they get more efficient. For an International Rectifier 12CWQ03FN it looks to be about 0.2% lower per degree Celsius rise.

The YS-Tech 80mm fans in this box next to me consume 0.84W at full speed. That's a slow fan though, I wouldn't be surprised if more typical ones used 2-3W at full speed.

Hardly a complete analysis, but just can't see where you're getting this additional 50W from. I think you're out by an order of magnitude.

Re:What about my A/C kicking into overdrive? (4, Interesting)

jawtheshark (198669) | about 6 years ago | (#23938665)

Back in the day, I had my server (an AMD Athlon64 2800+), my workstation (2x AMD Athlon MP 2400+), my wifes computer (P-IV 2.6GHz HT) and a huge Colour Laser printer (Ricoh Aficio CL2000) in a 10 square metre office. All the machines were pretty much on all the time.

We never ever needed to turn on the heating in that room. Even when it was -15C outside. In the summer you couldn't stay there for more than half an hour if you dared to close the door. The machines stayed stable though....

We now cut down seriously on the amount of machines we have in our office. (Let's say that getting rid of the MP was already an immense change...)

Re:What about my A/C kicking into overdrive? (4, Interesting)

mr_mischief (456295) | about 6 years ago | (#23938915)

I used to work for an ISP which was contacted by the natural gas utility company about canceling service. The gas company decided it wasn't doing us as the customer nor them as the seller any good to keep billing us just for the pipe, as we used about 2 units of gas in the five years at our location. With four offices, a lobby, the call center, and the NOC, we were self-sustaining for heat. Cooling, on the other hand, cost us dearly.

Re:What about my A/C kicking into overdrive? (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | about 6 years ago | (#23939179)

And if you got cold, running Seti@Home did the job ;-)

Re:What about my A/C kicking into overdrive? (4, Insightful)

CodeBuster (516420) | about 6 years ago | (#23941621)

You could have negotiated to keep the gas line open and use the gas to run sterling heat pumps [youtube.com] to cool the server room rather than using electricity from the grid to run conventional air conditioning units. It probably was or is worth looking into.

Re:What about my A/C kicking into overdrive? (2, Interesting)

Shivetya (243324) | about 6 years ago | (#23939559)

I moved my office downstairs. Simply put, the lower floor is always cooler in summer and the heat difference in winter isn't justification to have a system upstairs.

As such, the upstairs is left at 82F during the day while not in use, goes down to 78 starting that nearly an hour before expected time to turn in.

Re:What about my A/C kicking into overdrive? (2, Informative)

sm62704 (957197) | about 6 years ago | (#23939767)

Laser printers are power hogs by the very way they work. They're space heaters! If you have a laser printer running, it most likely consumes more power than all your other hardware combined, and certainly puts out more heat.

The way a laser printer works is that the laser beam puts an electrostatic charge wherever it lands - which wouold be where you want the paper to be black.

The charge on the paper attracts the toner, which is black plastic ground into fine powder. A heater in the unit, at 1800 degrees f, melts the black plastic on to the paper.

If you care about your wallet (let alone global warming from the coal they have to burn for its electricity), you'll keep the laser turned off most of the time.

Re:What about my A/C kicking into overdrive? (1)

Khyber (864651) | about 6 years ago | (#23941193)

"the toner, which is black plastic ground into fine powder."

you forgot the iron and carbon black. Also, it's not really a plastic, it's more like a wax. You can use a block of it at room temperature just like a crayon.

Re:What about my A/C kicking into overdrive? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 6 years ago | (#23941905)

the real problem isn't the fact that they have a corona wire, though, the problem is that most of them don't do enough power saving. The HPLJ5550n (terrible PITA, but beautiful output, very expensive to operate as well I'm afraid) will shut itself down so far it takes as long to start up as from a full cold boot. My HPLJ2100 (much older, B&W only) cycles its fan somewhat frequently because it generates too much heat even in standby.

Re:What about my A/C kicking into overdrive? (1)

Bob-taro (996889) | about 6 years ago | (#23941085)

Back in the day, I had my server (an AMD Athlon64 2800+)

To me, "back in the day" implies more than 3 years ago.

Re:What about my A/C kicking into overdrive? (2, Interesting)

wolf12886 (1206182) | about 6 years ago | (#23938961)

Depending on where you live, that could work the other way as well, ie, offsetting your heating bill.

My tower doesn't produce much heat, but when I'm gaming with my 360, I swear its like having a space heater on, if you've never felt the air coming out of the exhaust fans, its something like putting your hand at the mouth of a hair dryer.

Re:What about my A/C kicking into overdrive? (0, Redundant)

imstanny (722685) | about 6 years ago | (#23940059)

but what about the electricity required for the A/C to cool the room back down?
The same can be said about the benefits of not having to heat your room if you're in a cooler climate.

Re:What about my A/C kicking into overdrive? (1)

antdude (79039) | about 6 years ago | (#23940379)

Yep, same here. My upstair room can go up over 85 degrees(F) with a fan and central unit AC running! I have a bunch of electronics in my tiny room. I try to unplug stuff I don't use like TVs and printer. I also try to use AMD Cool'n'Quiet [amd.com] on my AMD systems. I also turn off machines that I don't use, but Linux/Debian box and wired network devices stay 24/7. Same for my old VCR (yes, still use one for recordings). :(

Re:What about my A/C kicking into overdrive? (3, Informative)

Macman408 (1308925) | about 6 years ago | (#23941151)

Typical air conditioning can remove heat from your house with a 30-45% penalty; eg running a 100W appliance might cost another 35W in air conditioning. Incidentally, at least for air conditioning planning, I've seen a human listed as producing about 600 BTUs per hour, or 175 Watts. So your room might be warming up as much from you using the computer as it is from the computer itself.

Also, some people seem surprised that their computer has a 450W power supply even though it is only drawing 150 Watts. This is because a power supply needs to supply the peak power for all accessories that might ever be installed. If you buy a computer from Apple or Dell, the power supply needs to have enough capacity to handle not only what you're getting, plus power for extra hard drives, PCIe cards, USB devices, FireWire devices, and anything else that might be added later. Furthermore, the power budget that they work with during design likely takes into account the maximum power specified for every single chip on the motherboard, even though it is unlikely that any one of them could reach that limit, much less all of them at the same time. The CPU's specifications might require 80W, even if it's only for a few milliseconds, and for the worst combination of operating temperature, manufacturing variance, and CPU load. There's a large margin built in to the design to ensure that your computer's power needs won't exceed what can be supplied.

In my case, my Dual 2.7 GHz PowerMac G5 has a 600W power supply, even though the peak usage I've measured is around 250W. Another 90W or so is reserved for PCI/PCI-X slots that I don't use, plus there's capacity needed for another hard drive, and 4 more sticks of RAM. Add in 15W available for bus power on FireWire, 2.5W for USB bus power... Then there's the difference between the actual sustained peak usage and the specification's instantaneous peak usage, which increases the requirements significantly. Pretty quickly, it adds up to something pretty close to 600 Watts.

I borrowed a Watts Up meter from the local library (the local power company supplies them to area libraries). I'd suggest that those interested in learning about their power consumption check if there is a similar program in your area, or ask if the power company, library, environmental group, or other organization would be interested in starting one. Or, offer to buy one and donate it when you're done, and encourage others to do the same.

Re:What about my A/C kicking into overdrive? (1)

greed (112493) | about 6 years ago | (#23941625)

Watts are heat. Any watt that is consumed inside your house is eventually dissipated as heat. Sound makes thins vibrate which warms them up by friction. Light warms things up when it is absorbed. Thermal losses are, of course, the heat created when we're trying to do something useful. Anything rotating causes friction in the bearings, and in the air.

Find the average watts used, and you can calculate BTU/h equivalent. Once you have that, you can find your cooling load. Say, using my house, which consumes about 500W at baseline:

500W * 3.41 BTU/h/W = 1705 BTU/h

Given my central A/C is a small system, 1.5 tons, which is 18,000 BTU/h, that leaves... oooh... most of the unit's capacity for cooling the effects of the sun.

(Wikipedia on BTU for conversion factor. [wikipedia.org] )

Once you know the cooling load, you can use the EER or SEER of your A/C to calculate the approximate power use.

So, my A/C has a SEER of 13 (I'm in Canada, 13 is plenty). SEER is BTU/W*h, so if we divide the cooling load by the SEER:

1705/13 = 131. W

So, that 500W adds another 131W of A/C. One could put that all together and come up with a percentage scale factor, like... oooh... I'd use 30% for my system. (Got to power the air handler inside also, after all.)

(Wikipedia on SEER. [wikipedia.org] )

Guess who knew exactly what he wanted before calling the heating & air conditioning contractor?

I love kill-a-watt (4, Interesting)

Bandman (86149) | about 6 years ago | (#23938525)

My wife is huge into low-energy tools, and she got us a kill-a-watt to play with.

In my server racks, I've got the PDU equivalent of this [apc.com] from APC. They've helped me many times in load balancing the power draw across our circuits

Re:I love kill-a-watt (3, Funny)

penguin_dance (536599) | about 6 years ago | (#23938695)

My wife is huge into low-energy tools, and she got us a kill-a-watt to play with.

Hey pervert, keep your smutty bedroom toys to yourself! :P

Re:I love kill-a-watt (1, Interesting)

Capslock118 (936446) | about 6 years ago | (#23938697)

I have a kill-a-watt as well. I have been increasingly obsessed with the amount of energy my house uses and I am proud to say we are staying under 440 kWh per month. While I have not tested out my machine thouroughly (I do not have it on much anymore) on Idle i was spending 450 watts. Now, this was between the power supply and the wall, so maybe the machine was using less power, but ultimately thats what it was drawing (the power supply is 450 watts so this makes sense to me). I can hardly believe that the router mentioned was using 8 watts, what is the time period there? I know the power supply on my linksys router is in the milliamps so, basic conversion would indicate to me that is not possible. I am probably thinking of something backwards though. But regardless, wouldnt the power supply dictate the amount of power used regardless of what the computer actually uses?

Re:I love kill-a-watt (5, Funny)

bucky0 (229117) | about 6 years ago | (#23938873)

>>I can hardly believe that the router mentioned was using 8 watts, what is the time period there?

8 Watts is probably about 8 Joules / Second. You know, in that ballpark.

Re:I love kill-a-watt (4, Informative)

ivan256 (17499) | about 6 years ago | (#23938995)

I can hardly believe that the router mentioned was using 8 watts, what is the time period there? I know the power supply on my linksys router is in the milliamps so, basic conversion would indicate to me that is not possible. I am probably thinking of something backwards though.
Time is a component of the "watts" unit. One watt is one joule per second. So the time period is irrelevant.

8 watts at 120 volts (simplistically speaking [wikipedia.org] ) would only be about 66 milliamps.

Re:I love kill-a-watt (2, Informative)

Amouth (879122) | about 6 years ago | (#23939421)

on top of that the ratings you see on the power blocks is normaly the dc output - the kill-a-watt meausres the power draw on the AC side before conversion - there is no doubt that router is running on less than 8watts as you lose in the conversion and heat. and most bricks arn't what you would call effecient devices they are cheap.

but as the power total isn't much the effeciency isn't that big of a deal

if you are only 50% effecient in conversion but that loss is only say 10 watts no big deal compared to a loss of several hundrad watts with an old AT non switching powersupply

Re:I love kill-a-watt (1)

sm62704 (957197) | about 6 years ago | (#23939681)

Time is NOT a component of the "watts" unit. A watt is current times voltage; e.g. at 100 volts one ampre, you have 100 watts. If you run it for ten hours, you have consumed one kilowatt hour.

The joule is is the SI unit of energy measuring heat, electricity and mechanical work. One joule is the work done, or energy expended, by a force of one newton moving one metre along the direction of the force. This quantity is also denoted as a newton metre with the symbol Nm. Wikipedia may be able to clear all this up for you, but if you check your electric bill you'll see that you aren't billed for watts used, but kilowatt hours used.

Re:I love kill-a-watt (1)

ivan256 (17499) | about 6 years ago | (#23939921)

The terminology I should have used was that time is factored out of the watts unit. So from a pedantic perspective (which I appreciate), I misspoke. But from reading the rest of my comment you should be able to tell that I got the math and the definition (which I spelled out right there) correct.

Re:I love kill-a-watt (1)

ivan256 (17499) | about 6 years ago | (#23940011)

Incidentally, you talked yourself into the exact same misunderstanding of the data as the parent by latching on to that one sentence instead of reading my entire comment. The whole point was that watt-hours and joules are *not* what he was looking for there.

Provisioned power vs. used energy (2, Informative)

tepples (727027) | about 6 years ago | (#23940225)

Time is NOT a component of the "watts" unit. [...] The joule is is the SI unit of energy measuring heat, electricity and mechanical work.
The watt is a unit of power, and power is the rate of energy transfer. A watt is one joule per second (1 J/s); there's a time component on the bottom of the fraction.

A watt is current times voltage; e.g. at 100 volts one ampre, you have 100 watts.
Right, but voltage itself is derived from power. A volt is a watt per ampere, or a joule per ampere-second, or a joule per coulomb.

but if you check your electric bill you'll see that you aren't billed for watts used, but kilowatt hours used.
I seem to remember reading that electric companies bill for both provisioning and usage: one rate for peak power (in watts) that could be used and another for energy (in kilowatt hours or megajoules) that is used. I will grant that some electric companies don't show provisioning as a separate line item on single-family residential accounts.

Re:I love kill-a-watt (2, Informative)

compro01 (777531) | about 6 years ago | (#23939411)

450W at idle?!

The power rating on the power supply indicates how much it is capable of supplying. it will not draw more than is needed, plus some for the thermal losses in the power supply (a good many supplies are better than 80% efficient).

My fairly powerful system (3ghz core2 duo, 2GB ram, 500GB hard drive, 8800GTS, 700W generic brand power supply, and a 17" CRT from 7 years ago,) draws about 370W running flat out according to my UPS (a 780W/1200VA APC unit) and sits at about 200-250W at idle (for various definitions of idle).

Re:I love kill-a-watt (1)

SuperQ (431) | about 6 years ago | (#23941799)

I don't understand why people use such over-rated PSUs. I guess it is just a dick-sizing thing.

My server/workstation at home consumes ~120W at idle, and 200W under full load. I bought a "small" 380W PSU a few years ago when the same machine was drawing ~250-300W under full load. After dumping the dual socket Athlon and switching to a single socket dual core, and turning on cpu frequency scaling my power bill droped $10/month.

I did the math a while back based on my CA $0.12/kwh. Every watt I use, translates into about $1/year.

Re:I love kill-a-watt (5, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | about 6 years ago | (#23938769)

My wife is huge into low-energy tools

Obviously. She married you.

rimshot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23939337)

ba-dum pssssh

Re:I love kill-a-watt (3, Funny)

Endo13 (1000782) | about 6 years ago | (#23939605)

This is why some posts should be modded to +10.

Kicking and screaming (4, Funny)

gearloos (816828) | about 6 years ago | (#23938551)

Personally my I^2 R losses are always better if I'm kicking the box and screaming after a good wow gank.

cliffski (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23938575)

oooh oooh, is cliffski going to call us kids and tell us how our opinions on Canadian politics are invalid?

Just for giggles... (1)

jockeys (753885) | about 6 years ago | (#23938689)

I'm still using a 19" crt, which pulls a huge amount of power, but for the rest of the system (which is very old) it pulls about 325 watts when playing Warcraft3, unless my meter is calibrated wrong.

For the antique buffs out there, it's an athlon xp with and old radeon 9xxx series, half a dozen optical and hard drives, and a dozen fans. add in the cold cathodes and fancy cooling crap that I thought was neat back in school, and 325 watts doesn't seem all that bad.

Re:Just for giggles... (1)

0racle (667029) | about 6 years ago | (#23938819)

Athlons are antiques?

Re:Just for giggles... (1)

DarthStrydre (685032) | about 6 years ago | (#23939139)

I still have an Evergreen C6 in my Overdrive socket.

Get off my lawn!

Re:Just for giggles... (1)

jockeys (753885) | about 6 years ago | (#23939183)

sure seems that way when I'm looking at the system requirements on the side of a new game

Little information (2, Interesting)

Kelz (611260) | about 6 years ago | (#23938701)

All he talked about with regards to the PC was the processor and video card. What power supply was he using? A super efficient one or a super stable one? How many peripherals were hooked in? Hard drives? Fans?

Re:Little information (3, Informative)

cliffski (65094) | about 6 years ago | (#23938931)

Hi. Theres a single hard drive in there. a typical 'shipped with the box' PSU, no wireless card or anything fancy.
The PC is from mesh Computers, about a year old.

Re:Little information (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23939489)

You make it sound like efficient and stable excluded each other. That is not the case - If you chose one of those newfangled >80% efficient power supplied with a maximum output just slightly larger than the maximum draw of you PC, you'd probably get a well engineered, stable and efficient powersupply.

Worth the cost (4, Interesting)

wolf12886 (1206182) | about 6 years ago | (#23938785)

Where I live we pay $.08 per kilowatt hour, so running my computer 24/7 costs me (assuming 190 watts at idle) $11 a month, which is not nothing, but is certainly worth the convenience.

Also, I doubt the leds on any of the devices mentioned account for nearly any of the measured current draw, 20ma at 5v is .1w, so you'd have to have to have a hell of alot of leds to make a noticeable difference in power usage. most of that current is probably being burned up in the wall wart, linear regulators or transmitters, if I had to guess.

Re:Worth the cost (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23939341)

If I pay someone $11 to go round your place and have a shit on your garden twice a week, it doesn't really cost much.

After a while, though, your garden is knee deep in shit.

Now to bring this analogy home, I'll let you know something: the $11 of energy you're paying for is turning out a lot of CO2. It's a small effect but if EVERYONE does it, it does add up.

And it's kind of butt-fucking your (and others) grandkids. Having to live in the shit you dumped because it was worth the convenience.

Re:Worth the cost (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23939837)

And if I pay someone $11 a piece to shoot every idiot like you, it will save us your food consumption and far more CO2 exhaust than that produced by powering PCs.

Re:Worth the cost (4, Interesting)

RoverDaddy (869116) | about 6 years ago | (#23940399)

Wow, what pompous, righteous indignation over 190W! You have no idea what this person's lifestyle is, whether they do lots of other things to help the environment and keep their energy costs low. My PC is on 24/7 too, for several reasons:

1. I frequently access it from work over SSH.
2. When I'm home, somebody in the family is using it nearly all the time (instead of TV which is constantly in use in plenty of other homes)
3. When nobody is using it, it's running BOINC on behalf of World Community Grid doing useful things like cancer/AIDS research.
4. My life experience with computers indicates that a computer running all the time will live longer than a computer switched on and off.

Maybe my opinion on PC life is bunk, but overall I don't think I'm killing off the ecosystem by keeping my PC on. I've replaced every incandescent bulb I can with compact fluorescents. I actually turn lights OFF when I leave a room. I use LCDs instead of CRTs. I recycle. I drive a small car, and keep the speed down and I've cut down my driving considerably.

There are much better targets for your ranting and raving than $11 worth of electricity.

BTW, I'm very jealous of the $0.08/KWH price. Where I live (Massachusetts, US) the cost of electricity is more like $0.20/KWH.

Re:Worth the cost (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 6 years ago | (#23940611)

Both your numbers seemed high, but I don't pay for hydro directly (included in my rent). After checking out the prices in my area [hydroottawa.com] , it seems to me like both of you are getting ripped off. If you don't like to follow links, that's 5 cents per kWh, for the first 600 kWh, and 5.9 cents for each kWh after that. I remember a place I was in 5 or 6 years ago, and we were paying under 4 cents.

Re:Worth the cost (1)

dindi (78034) | about 6 years ago | (#23941805)

Agreed.

Pretty much do the same, however I replaced 3 large Linux/Windows/BSD pcs with a MAC mini and a Macbook. Both go to sleep quite fast, and last long on UPS.

In Costa Rica there is only 1 power company : the government, so there is nothing to do there.

I also agree with not judging people over one thing they do.

It is like my colleagues telling me why I leave the office computer on (BTW it goes into sleep when I press the button, and draws very little (MAC G5)........ then they go to Mac donalds while I drink a Soy yoghurt and an organic pita sandwich (vegan).....

Also riding a bike instead of driving a car can help to offset all these which I try to do (unless it is rainy season and is pouring)....

Then again, the "shit in the garden" thing is kind of a good analogy, but I really wonder what else the person does besides turning off a pc....

Re:Worth the cost (1)

hurfy (735314) | about 6 years ago | (#23940235)

lol, haven't gotten around to plugging the meter yet but i count 59 LED between my computer/hub/modem plus the 3 little blacklight bulbs :) Doesn't run them all the time and most of the fan lights are off or very low. Full power looks and sounds like a 747 on takeoff but not needed for cooling.

New project is now to test out my vintage iron. Note to check max rating on kill-a-watt first before trying the mini-computer with the 5 digit BTU rating ;)

I did find that my desktop uses almost the same power 'off' as in standby tho :(

I need one of those (2, Informative)

legoman666 (1098377) | about 6 years ago | (#23938911)

I have 4 monitors on my machine. 3 19" LCD's and 1 22" LCD. The PC itself is a Q6600 @ 3.1ghz and 2 HD3870's, also overclocked. The CPU and 2 GPUs are watercooled. There are also 4 hard drives and a sound card.

I've think I've estimated the power draw at around 450w under full load (not including the monitors. 3 of them are turned off when I play games).

Luckily I don't pay my electric bill.

Re:I need one of those (4, Funny)

Holi (250190) | about 6 years ago | (#23939513)

Luckily I don't pay my electric bill.

A true slashdot stereotype.

Let me guess, late 20's and parents basement.

Re:I need one of those (1)

legoman666 (1098377) | about 6 years ago | (#23939927)

21 and the cost is free with my rent. Along with internet, water, and gas. And no, I don't rent my parents basement. I live in an apartment near campus.

Re:I need one of those (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23939555)

You must have busted a huge nut after submitting this one...

Multi-head multiplayer? (1)

tepples (727027) | about 6 years ago | (#23940311)

(not including the monitors. 3 of them are turned off when I play games)
I've wondered: Why can't PC games use the other three monitors for three other players' views of the arena?

Re:Multi-head multiplayer? (1)

legoman666 (1098377) | about 6 years ago | (#23941397)

A few games can. Supreme commander for one. I believe World in Conflict can also.

What about life consumption? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23938951)

A few watts here, a few watts. They add up to massive amounts of life consumption.

Re:What about life consumption? (1)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | about 6 years ago | (#23940455)

Only thing consuming my life is slashdot. I gotta get outta here... *drops keyboard*.

been wondering about this also (2, Insightful)

800DeadCCs (996359) | about 6 years ago | (#23938965)

been wondering about this also.
mainly due to having only one 20A outlet, and the building is old enough I don't want to risk that much.
looking to build a new system, I want to make a strong but low power-draw system (gonna use a 45nm intel chip). Looking at specs on various parts suppliers sites, I come across numbers like "total thermal dissipation", or things like the notes on Intel's ATOM board: "fully populated board with accessories uses 75W max"

Where do I find out exactly how much wattage I need?
A lot of the calculator sites seem to be either a tad old, or just give info on a few select parts.

on a note about the article,
I'd rather see what the power usage is while starting up (seems that's when the biggest drain usually is).
as for the printer, OK, it's just a deskjet, but show the drain on a laser warming up (for B/W, you're better with one of those).

Re:been wondering about this also (1)

SiriusStarr (1196697) | about 6 years ago | (#23939343)

http://extreme.outervision.com/psucalculatorlite.jsp [outervision.com]

This is the calculator I've used for past builds. It does seem to estimate on the high side, though. It recommends a ~650 watt PSU for my computer (with aging taken into account), but I've never seen mine draw more than ~350 when gaming.

Re:been wondering about this also (1)

Amouth (879122) | about 6 years ago | (#23939533)

kinda simple

watts = amps * voltage

if you are in the US normal AC is between 110-125v

at 20 amps that outlet can provide 2,200-2,500 watts before the current load flips the breaker

unless you have alot of computers all on the same circute you don't need to worrie about the draw on the outlet

at home i have 2 computers 1 lcd monitor 1 crt monitor a laser printer and networking stuff.. constant draw is about 250 watts (at 124v that is 2 amps) when the printer fires up it draws 10 amps for a second but other than that power is normal

if you are looking to make a strong but lower power comp.. the ATOM will give you the extream low power but the strong isn't there - the ATOM is made for simple tasks at low power availability

A lot of computers all on the same circuit (1)

tepples (727027) | about 6 years ago | (#23940475)

unless you have alot of computers all on the same circute you don't need to worrie about the draw on the outlet
And if you have more than one person in your home, you do need a lot of computers all on the same circuit for a multiplayer game because most mainstream PC games don't have an HTPC mode that lets players share a single large screen.

Re:been wondering about this also (1)

mshannon78660 (1030880) | about 6 years ago | (#23941645)

Technically, for AC it's watts=amps*voltage*.707 - that's why you often see both watts and volt-amps ratings on UPS's.

Accuracy (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23939091)

I wonder how accurate those readings are. Cheap power meters often only produce correct values for purely resistive loads. Everything uses switching power supplies nowdays (they're very efficient compared to linear power supplies), and they draw current in peculiar ways (some have power factor correction which improves things). Does anyone have a Kill-a-Watt vs Oscilloscope accuracy comparison for different kinds of loads?

Re:Accuracy (1)

dpilot (134227) | about 6 years ago | (#23940133)

My kill-a-watt can also display the power factor. That doesn't say anything about how accurate it is, but it does say that it knows something about non-resistive loads. Incidentally, the switching supplies in the PCs I've measured have a power factor of about 67%.

Re:Accuracy (2, Insightful)

Trogre (513942) | about 6 years ago | (#23941471)

My cheap power meter displays power factor, but not very accurately. It will tell me an AC fan has a power factor of 33% (correct) and an early-model switch-mode PSU has a power factor of 100% (wrong).

After seeing the effects of several hundred inductive loads on an AC grid, I now only buy PSUs with Active Power Factor Correction. It costs less in the long run.

Vista increases the wattage (3, Interesting)

mariushm (1022195) | about 6 years ago | (#23939771)

Note that he uses Vista and he says his computer doesn't need more watts when playing games compared to normal usage.
Maybe this is because Vista's 3D interface already taxes the video card and forces it to draw a lot of power?

Re:Vista increases the wattage (1)

Fazeshift (1192371) | about 6 years ago | (#23940357)

Sounds plausible to me. On my XP box, I see a 40-50 watt increase in power consumption whenever running a game/3d video mode.

Video card reviews (1)

Xelios (822510) | about 6 years ago | (#23940041)

Most graphics card reviews these days test total system power consumption during idle and load. A sign of changing times I guess. Here's an example [anandtech.com] from Anandtech's review of the Radeon 4870. Pages 2-10 also have some very technical information about the architecture on ATI's new line of cards, for anyone who's interested.

Consoles (0, Offtopic)

ucblockhead (63650) | about 6 years ago | (#23940099)

For comparison sake, this is similar to the power requirements of the XBox 360 and PS3 [intowit.com] .

The Wii takes much less than either.

Watts per player? (1)

tepples (727027) | about 6 years ago | (#23940629)

For comparison sake, this is similar to the power requirements of the XBox 360 and PS3
How many Xbox 360 consoles do you need for four players, vs. how many PCs?

Re:Consoles (4, Informative)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 6 years ago | (#23940899)

Here's a comparison [hardcoreware.net] that shows XBox 360 vs. PS3 vs. Wii vs. PC in many different areas including standby, idle, gaming, and movies (Wii not included in movies).

Burning Media (1)

Quantus347 (1220456) | about 6 years ago | (#23940281)

Most of the running of the operating system is a relatively low watt task. The big things, the last straw on more than one of my aging power supplies, is Burning media. That is where it really needs the extra juice.

Id like to see a comparison of Burning Wattage, and the difference between the needs of CDs, DVDs, BlueRay, LightScribe, etc.

Re:Burning Media (1)

Fazeshift (1192371) | about 6 years ago | (#23940437)

The difference between burning (DVD-R media typically) vs. optical drives sitting idle is minimal when measured on my rig - 10 watts or less.

News Flash: I'm bored. (1)

Aphoxema (1088507) | about 6 years ago | (#23940493)

Don't ask me how I took my readings, if you don't know you don't need to do the dangerous and downright stupid thing I did to measure. Get a Kill-a-watt.

My computer (measuring off the whole strip, so it includes the speakers and stuff) doing nothing usually draws 1.9 amperes (120/60), when I play Mass Effect, it goes up to about 2.2 amperes.

My laptop (old Compaq 2596us) takes about .6 amperes regardless of what it's doing.

I suddenly realize how much I can save myself using my laptop instead of my desktop for all the things I do in the day I don't need the power hungry, acrylic monolith.

Now I just need to find something better to do with myself when I'm bored.

Re:News Flash: I'm bored. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23940867)

How did you take your readings ?

Power consumption of PS3 / Wii / XBOX 360 (5, Informative)

IYagami (136831) | about 6 years ago | (#23941527)

You should take a look at http://www.hardcoreware.net/reviews/review-356-1.htm [hardcoreware.net]

This is the main information:
Power Consumption in Games
PS3: 185.9 Watt average
XBox360: 176,54
PC (see link for more information): 156,6
Wii: 16.8

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