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Build an Environmentally-Friendly PC

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the being-green-is-so-pc dept.

Hardware Hacking 249

ThinSkin writes "While gas-guzzling cars are greatly to blame for releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, computers play their role in warming up the Earth too. ExtremeTech has an informative how-to article on building a green PC that will not only help save the planet, but will also slim down that energy bill. An important component, or culprit, to consider is the power supply, so investing in an 80 PLUS PSU is a step in the right direction. The article also discusses how to configure Windows Vista to utilize its power-saving options."

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249 comments

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Is global warming REALLY so much of a threat? (-1, Offtopic)

emil (695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212180)

It does have it's advantages, according to Professor Robert E. Sloan, Department of Geology, University of Minnesota [ucl.ac.uk] :

We are talking about carbon dioxide levels 6 to 10 times the present carbon dioxide level... When you have high amounts of carbon dioxide in an atmosphere up to a certain limit, which is considerably higher than it is now, the result is green plants grow very much better... And it is precisely at this time that the recovery from the first dinosaur extinction takes place. When the super plumes come and carbon dioxide increases, and the oxygen correspondingly increases as a result of photosynthesis... And yet the super plumes did not last forever and they started to die at the end of Cretaceous.... In any event, large dinosaurs really required to be living in an oxygen tent. An atmosphere in the neighborhood of 35 percent oxygen would be considerably more compatible with large dinosaurs than one in the neighborhood of 28. And so this suggested to me that this was perhaps a significant reason for the first dinosaur extinction, and probably one of the major factors in the second, the terminal dinosaur extinction, other than the birds. It also neatly tied together all of the really bizarre features about the Cretaceous... The Cretaceous is clearly a green house period as opposed to the present ice house that we have... Well, the rich carbon dioxide of course provides for a much greater biogenic diversity.

Re:Is global warming REALLY so much of a threat? (1)

andy314159pi (787550) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212242)

So you're suggesting we continue to produce global warming gases so that we can put saddles on pterodactyls?

Re:Is global warming REALLY so much of a threat? (3, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212570)

No, he's suggesting we continue to listen to debunked hogwash paid for by the fossil fuel industry.

Re:Is global warming REALLY so much of a threat? (0, Flamebait)

beckerist (985855) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212684)

...or....troll.... he's suggesting that the hippy-liberal-hypocritical types (see: al gore [drudgereport.com] ) might just be tooting a horn that would be better left alone, at least until it's better understood!

Re:Is global warming REALLY so much of a threat? (2, Interesting)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212794)

Calling the former Vice President of the United States of America a "hippy-liberal-hypocritical type" isn't trolling at all, now is it?

The conservative/big oil side of the debate has no viable position left to argue, so they resort to infantile name calling, as usual.

Re:Is global warming REALLY so much of a threat? (-1, Troll)

Moofie (22272) | more than 7 years ago | (#18213184)

"The conservative/big oil side of the debate has no viable position left to argue"

Whereas your not-conservative not-big-oil side can just rely on tried and true proofs by assertion! Wow. You're good at debating. As a matter of fact, I might call you a master. Of debating.

Re:Is global warming REALLY so much of a threat? (1)

zcat_NZ (267672) | more than 7 years ago | (#18213282)

As a matter of fact, I might call you a master. Of debating.

Well, aren't you a cunning linguist!

Re:Is global warming REALLY so much of a threat? (1)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#18213300)

I am a master debater. And a cunning linguist. But I don't rely on proofs by assertion when arguing anthropogenic global climate change. Only when calling out a troll who disrespects others in lieu of actual debate.

Out of curiosity, do you think the global climate is changing? Do you think we are having an impact? Impact or no, do you think we should do anything about it?

Re:Is global warming REALLY so much of a threat? (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 7 years ago | (#18213364)

"no viable position left to argue,"

That's an argument by assertion. You don't support your point, you just take it as read that the other side is wrong and you're right.

You might have published treatises of supporting information, but until you provide them to me, they don't really count (from my perspective).

"do you think the global climate is changing?"

I'd tend to think that change is a key feature of climates.

"Do you think we are having an impact?"

An impact? Everything has an impact. Are humans having a significant, reversible, detrimental impact on climate change? Not sure, I tend to think not.

"Impact or no, do you think we should do anything about it?"

I don't think we should do ANYTHING. I think we should take reasonable measures to minimize our environmental impact, individually and collectively. I think it's a good idea to be good stewards of our environment, minimize pollution and harmful emissions, and generally try to keep as clean a house as is practical without, say, telling everybody that they don't get to drive cars or fly on airplanes anymore.

Do I think that Hurricane Katrina was caused by the popularity of SUVs? No. Not at all.

Re:Is global warming REALLY so much of a threat? (1)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#18213490)

You know, you could very easily prove me wrong by providing a link to any argument against anthropogenic global climate change that hasn't already been debunked about a million times. Just because my argument doesn't follow proper forms doesn't mean my conclusion is wrong. You do the very same thing by asserting that I am wrong without supporting your point. Go ahead, post a link.

Re:Is global warming REALLY so much of a threat? (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 7 years ago | (#18213584)

'You do the very same thing by asserting that I am wrong without supporting your point.'

Oh, not at all. You might be 100% correct. Of course, you also may not be correct. I assert that I disagree with you. Or, rather, I haven't accepted your argument. I consider myself quite ignorant on this topic. Thing is, I consider anybody who doesn't consider themselves ignorant on this topic to be not terribly credible.

We've never studied a system as complex as the climate. I think any conclusions that are drawn with our current level of knowledge are suspect at best.

I think there are plenty common-sense approaches to minimizing environmental impact that DON'T involve making massive negative impacts on economies.

Re:Is global warming REALLY so much of a threat? (1)

syphax (189065) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212814)


I would have said the same thing about our planet's carbon cycle. We're running a huge experiment; the results should be quite interesting.

Re:Is global warming REALLY so much of a threat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18212288)

Its a troll!

Re:Is global warming REALLY so much of a threat? (1)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212314)

Its not really a threat, well not until the Great Shaitan catches you outside your sietch and devours you in his fiery maw. Then it's a bit of an issue.

Re:Is global warming REALLY so much of a threat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18212362)

You are a fool if you believe that events that occured over BILLIONS of years is of no consequence to you if they take place in 50.

So to answer your question: Yes. It is that much of a threat.

If the US poured even just 5% of the money it poured into it's war on terrorism, we'd all be much better off.

Then again, why not just spend MORE on the military so you can shoot those dinosaurs in your yard, hmmm?

Re:Is global warming REALLY so much of a threat? (1)

hooded_fang (964565) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212702)

Um I wouldnt call those advantages. We arent from the Cretaceous period and we aren't really used to that high of a CO2 level. Ever been in a room with 10% CO2 levels? You know if you had cause you'd have a huge headache. You arent a dinosaur and you arent indestructible. Why would you want to change the world to something you may not adapt to? Why not try to keep the world as we know and love. You know they didn't have air quality warnings and smog alerts when I was a kid. Now you can barely breathe the air in major cities on a hot day due to pollution. Excess CO2 is in that pollution. Now when you can barely breathe the air Id like you to state how that is advantageous to anyone.

Re:Is global warming REALLY so much of a threat? (1)

emil (695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212926)

You have raised several issues.

We arent from the Cretaceous period and we aren't really used to that high of a CO2 level.

Well, that won't be much of a problem. If we have hit or are very near peak oil, then no matter how much we burn we will never come close to the levels in the Cretaceous.

Ever been in a room with 10% CO2 levels?

If you read my original linked interview, the Professor discusses high O2 and CO2 levels.

Now you can barely breathe the air in major cities on a hot day due to pollution.

This problem should be/have been solved by the Clean Air Act. We are now no longer able to enforce this law due to NAFTA, which is a separate issue.

Regardless of the sudden change we may be experiencing in CO2 levels (which may not be all that sudden compared to large volcanic erruptions that the biosphere has previously absorbed), I don't think that humanity has as much power over the environment as it hopes or fears.

Re:Is global warming REALLY so much of a threat? (1)

hooded_fang (964565) | more than 7 years ago | (#18213018)

OMG the Clean Air Act? That's the biggest joke Ive ever heard. Neither of the big parties in Canada are serious about this. Its either a) a way to get votes or b) act concerned then wait till the voters forget about it. I dont buy Harper's recent conversion to green living as much as I buy anything that a politician/oil company slave might say. Jeez its buying their policies that causes us to forget about pushing them to tackle problems with real responses. Im sick of the spin and three word buzzwords that are so fashionable these days. There is no way that anyone can claim that the air quality in Central Canada is being fixed by any government policies. I left there 5 years ago because I wasnt a fan of breathing that crap. The Clean Air Act will be about as effective as the Accountability Act is now. Hold it up in committees while the teeth are removed. Then the public thinks they got what they wanted and dont realize how ineffective the new laws are. When will people stop taking politicians at face value and put them to the test. Jeez if we dont do it soon with this government we may lose the ability to do so in the long run. Clean Air Act my @ss

Re:Is global warming REALLY so much of a threat? (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 7 years ago | (#18213228)

Stability on a planetary scale isn't.

Why would you want to change the world to something you may not adapt to? Why not try to keep the world as we know and love.

Why do you think there is a choice? The Earth is a dynamic system with many inputs other than human produced CO2. Sunlight, orbitial dynamics, solar wind and 10 more things that we're not sure how they affect the planet yet.

The first thing to be aware of is that there is change and will always be change. You might not like it - humans generally don't - but you cannot stop it and for the most part cannot control it.

The second thing to be aware of is that there are cyclic changes that have occurred in the past that we do not know very much about. There isn't much documentation from the last warming period and the transition into what is called The Little Ice Age. And that was less than 1,000 years ago. We are dealing with cycles that are perhaps 100,000 years in duration or longer. The people that claim to have special knowledge of where things are going and how they are going be for the next 100, 200 or 10,000 years are deluded fools. We don't know - but we do know they will not be the same as the last 500 years which has been the best, most human-suited climate in a very long time. Perhaps more than 50,000 years.

Change is real, and having all of humanity in one basket means that there are no choices - adapt or die. The real choice is do we (as a species) keep all our "eggs" in one basket and hope a solar flare doesn't wipe out 50% of the planet anytime soon. This is a species-survival question and right now it seems we want to answer it with politicians out vote-getting rather than thinking. And people that don't want to "rock the boat" because they assume we can somehow stop cyclic changes of the planet. And that if we play nice with the Sun there won't be a massive flare in our lifetimes.

Re:Is global warming REALLY so much of a threat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18213614)

The problem isn't slow changes over a long period of time but relatively fast changes. There is very little that could actually kill the human line off but there are costs associated with having to adapt.

Presidential Memo: To Slashdot +1, Important (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18213198)

To: Slashdot, News For Nerds, Stuff That DOESN'T Matter

From: Your Criminal-In-Command

I, being of somewhat sound body and unsound mind, do solemnly declare the URL www.slashdot.org to be in violation of the
The U.S.A. PatRIOT Act and advise the ownerz of this infidel web site to transfer all of your assets to my conspirator
President-VICE Richard B. Cheney by March 9, 2007, the year of our Savior and Prophet Baby Jesus Christ For All Wars Against Anyone
Who Dare Criticize My Crime Syndicate.

Please call President-VICE Cheney [huffingtonpost.com] and arrange for this asset transfer immediately.

So Help Me God.

Yours very insanely,
President George W. Bush [whitehouse.org]

Re:Is global warming REALLY so much of a threat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18213342)

Of course. It isn't all bad, and it isn't the end of the Earth (because the Earth has previously had much higher CO2 concentrations, and life survived just fine, if not flourished, especially in the Mesozoic "greenhouse" phase).

On the other hand, human agricultural systems, economic systems, and historical civilizations aren't exactly robust when it comes to significant climatic change. Human systems are clearly more fragile than life is, and the rate of change also matters alot (there haven't been many times in Earth history when change in atmospheric CO2 of this magnitude has been this rapid).

So, even if it isn't all bad, it's still playing with fire.

Why? My Pollutron 5000 is just fine! (1)

AssCork (769414) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212188)

Gets me on the Intarweb and everything.

would of been better off with... (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212202)

low end amd x2 and geforce 6150 video as well as using xp.

Re: would be better off with eComStation (2)

user_ecs (878826) | more than 7 years ago | (#18213472)

Get the job done with an OS that doesn't waste cpu cycles. Also how much is sucked out by viruses/spyware/... and then all the anti-virus/spyware/.. utilities to fight them.
Save energy and be more secure.

user group
http://www.os2voice.org/ [os2voice.org]

eComStation
http://www.ecomstation.com/ [ecomstation.com]

eComStation preloaded
http://www.curtissystemssoftware.com/preloads.htm [curtissyst...ftware.com]

Save Power (1)

Psychotic_Wrath (693928) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212208)

My computer is run by a bicycle power generator!

So? (5, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212850)

My computer is run by a bicycle power generator!

Mine runs by burning baby seals alive. Sure, it costs a bit more, but it's worth it to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

Re:So? (2, Funny)

triffid_98 (899609) | more than 7 years ago | (#18213310)

What do you mean, baby seals are chock full of foreign oil. Why do you think they burn so well?

Mine runs by burning baby seals alive. Sure, it costs a bit more, but it's worth it to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

Re:Save Power (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212896)

That's nothing. I got Gilligan riding my bicycle power generator.

Most environmentally friendly solution. (4, Insightful)

Shatrat (855151) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212210)

Don't build a PC, re-use old hardware and keep it out of landfills.
Efficiency in new PCs has it's place, but it is nothing compared to the benefits of re-using old hardware which can be perfectly good for most tasks as long as you arent in love with Microsoft Bloat, ExXxtreme edition.

Re:Most environmentally friendly solution. (2, Insightful)

larien (5608) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212326)

Depends; you can get much more energy efficient CPUs these days and if you used to by cutting edge, it may not be the most efficient. There's a balance somewhere between pollution (toxic chemicals in components) versus power draw; I'm not 100% sure where it lies...

Re:Most environmentally friendly solution. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212338)

Amen! Buying a new PC won't save energy any more than buying a Hybrid. It probably doesn't even decrease our dependence on foreign oil, because most of our power generation is based on fossil fuel sources anyway, and most of the cars driven in the US are actually built in the US to avoid paying import taxes.

Re:Most environmentally friendly solution. (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 7 years ago | (#18213258)

So I should just keep using my 300+ watt dual p3 with 15 fans going full speed just to keep the thing from melting down in the summer, plus the AC costs from keeping it from melting me down in the summer?

It does everything I need to do at home, but maybe a system like this can do everything I need to do at home cheaper.

For bonus points, I'll even be able to turn my speakers down several notches.

Re:Most environmentally friendly solution. (2, Insightful)

dangitman (862676) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212536)

Don't build a PC, re-use old hardware and keep it out of landfills.

The problem is that modern users have needs that won't be fulfilled by the old hardware. Sure, if you just browse the web and play solitaire, then an old PC is going to be fine. But these days people do things they didn't do in the past, like edit HD video, and manage thousands of RAW images from digital cameras. Those old PCs aren't going to cut it.

Re:Most environmentally friendly solution. (5, Insightful)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212964)

Ha ha. Yeah, I'm sure *everybody* is editing HD video and storing RAW images from their digital cameras.

Sorry dude, but just because *you* might be doing those things, doesn't make you any less the exception. The fact is, *most* people would be just fine with old hardware, because most people really do just browse the web, check their email, and write documents with their PC.

Pseudoscience (1)

node159 (636992) | more than 7 years ago | (#18213538)

Pseudoscience at its worst, come on we all know the following:

* Building a new PC is far less environmentally friendly than upgrading, which is less than just keeping the existing hardware. The power/resources saved by newer more economical components will be shadowed by the amount of power/resources invested to manufacture these new components & the wastage associated with the disposal of the old components.
* Vista requires a significant amount more power to run than XP, this simple known fact highlights the ignorance of the author(s)
* Mobile CPU's are much more power friendly, come on, how can they justify their choice when they even list it as the top offender in power usage....
* Wireless components are more power efficient then a simple wire because.... Idiots.
* A simple power meter would be a lot more accurate than mathing the Watt ratings on all the components.

Re:Most environmentally friendly solution. (2, Funny)

crabpeople (720852) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212732)

When I toss electronics in the trash, I like to think im helping future archologists by giving them one more specimen to study.

Re:Most environmentally friendly solution. (1)

Atzanteol (99067) | more than 7 years ago | (#18213036)

They'll just send somebody back in time [wikipedia.org] again.

Re:Most environmentally friendly solution. (2, Insightful)

geeber (520231) | more than 7 years ago | (#18213060)

Don't build a PC, re-use old hardware and keep it out of landfills.

And then turn it off when it is not in use.

Vista won't save you power! (4, Interesting)

Dr. Spork (142693) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212228)

Many reports now indicate that Vista will load even a Core 2 Duo cpu at 20-30% just to run the interface. When you compare this to my normal 0-1% for WinXP or KDE, you'll see that you won't be saving any power at all with Vista unless you turn off the default interface. (Add to this also the extra load on your GPU from running Aero...)

Re:Vista won't save you power! (1)

Cereal Box (4286) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212284)

Prove it. The whole point of Vista offloading graphics processing to the video card was to keep the CPU from being loaded down with drawing the GUI.

I suppose you hate MacOS X as well because it forces the GPU to do extra work and, let's face it, it's not exactly as minimal an interface as KDE or Windows XP.

Re:Vista won't save you power! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212492)

Prove it. The whole point of Vista offloading graphics processing to the video card was to keep the CPU from being loaded down with drawing the GUI.

Well, that raises an interesting point. Now the GPU is doing that work. MORE work might actually get done, because there is overhead in handing it off to the GPU, although the penalty to your CPU will be less. But anyway, the question then becomes whether handing the processing off to the GPU takes more electricity, because the GPU might be less efficient overall.

Re:Vista won't save you power! (1)

bubbl07 (777082) | more than 7 years ago | (#18213012)

I think you're missing the point, though. If you really wanted a "green" PC, you wouldn't waste energy on unnecessary graphics processing at all, especially for something that's used as often as the OS GUI, regardless of whether it takes place at the CPU or GPU level. I'm not saying you shouldn't use a GUI at all, because that would defeat the purpose of trying to find a nice compromise between usability and minimizing power consumption.

I believe that if you really cared about making the "green" PC, a very relevant optimization would probably be "upgrading" to XP or *nix. Using Vista in any power-saving scenario seems akin to using deodorant to smell good but not showering.

Re:Vista won't save you power! (1)

kuviaq (893859) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212406)

I have a Core 2 duo running at 2.8ghz and with full Aero my idle CPU usage is 0% to 2%. Moving windows around, minimizing/maximizing maxes CPU usage at 5%. Where did you read this?

Many reports are BS (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212602)

I'm running Vista on a P4 3Ghz system right now total load from Windows components is about 1% from the DWM (the desktop composition engine). Firefox is using as much or more CPU time just dealing with the animated ad and the input of my text.

So maybe Vista will eat up 20% of a Core 2 if you screw something up, but it eats almost no CPU normally when properly configured.

Erm, rubbish (1)

a16 (783096) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212704)

What reports? I'm running Vista Business with full Aero (on 2 screens, 20" and 17") and loads of silly gadgets, about 10-15 different apps open including two copies of Visual Studio, a local Xming server, firefox, thunderbird, MSN, Acrobat reader, anti-virus etc. etc.

My CPU usage is idling at 2-6% looking at the little CPU gadget (which is probably using some of that itself..) And RAM usage is at 65%, and I've never ever seen it higher than 80ish. The general experience is easily faster than any version of XP that I've used, and I'm afraid to say significantly faster than any linux experience that I've had (and I've used Debian and then Ubuntu as my primary OS prior to getting this copy of Vista for 2-3 years).

And this is on a 3 year old Athlon64 3000+ with 1gb RAM and an old ATI 9800 graphics card. I seriously call on all the twits who are constantly moaning on about Vista's performance to actually use the damn thing, or shut up.

Re:Vista won't save you power! (2, Interesting)

Shatrat (855151) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212996)

Many reports now indicate that any made up sensationalist drivel at all can be modded Interesting on slashdot.
I'm as big a fan of linux and detractor from Vista as the next linux greybeard, but let's not stoop to making stuff up when theres such a plethora of real problems with Vista.

Environmental-friendly? (1)

BorgCopyeditor (590345) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212254)

What is that? A PC that's friendly to the environmental? Is this something out of "Chronicles of Riddick"?

Re:Environmental-friendly? (1)

BorgCopyeditor (590345) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212336)

Kudos, editors. Fastest /. headline edit I've ever seen. It was fixed before I hit "Submit" on the above snark.

Buy a laptop - end of story. (5, Interesting)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212266)

We recently had a "build the most efficient desktop PC you can" contest of sorts at work using a outlet-based usage meter. The winner was a guy who wasn't even competing using his off-the-shelf laptop. It was a bit of an eye-opener for the rest of us pseudo-greenies, but it makes sense: laptop makers are always trying to cut corners on power usage.

Buy a $100 laptop - end of story. (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212428)

When they get rid of the hard disk, there will be even less consumption.

 

Re:Buy a laptop - end of story. (3, Insightful)

twostar (675002) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212534)

You mention using a outlet meter, I wonder why the author didn't do the same thing. On the last page he lists some of the parts and notes "The watts listed are the highest for normal operation when the component is active." He doesn't actually confirm this or even list the PSU. He also clumps together a lot of things and dismisses them.

Why not hook up a $30 Watt meter and find out how well his design worked? Do an idle test and then run various benchmarks to see how the Green Machine works in reality.

Re:Buy a laptop - end of story. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18213168)

or even list the PSU

He spent an entire page talking about the plus80 certification and why it's important and how he chose a SeaSonic M12 modular powersupply that was plus80 certified.

Re:Buy a laptop - end of story. (1)

paeanblack (191171) | more than 7 years ago | (#18213558)

Why not hook up a $30 Watt meter and find out how well his design worked? Do an idle test and then run various benchmarks to see how the Green Machine works in reality.

That's how science works. This is about environmentalism. Completely different.

I'm not even joking.

This is exactly the reason the entire socio-political clusterfuck we call environmentalism exists. There are far too many politicians, reporters, and fallen scientists that are trying too hard to get the next soundbite, editorial, or published paper out in the wild than to finish the damn research. Just because you buy a bunch of "Green" equipment and plug it all together doesn't mean you have a "Green" machine. Furthermore, without some objective testing against a typical alternative machine, the article isn't even worth energy used to display it on a monitor.

Buy a laptop, perhaps. Quick boot, better? (1)

Radon360 (951529) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212608)

Agreed. But then you'll have someone drop theirs into a dock, with a big ol' monitor, optical mouse, speakers, and whatever other peripherals are connected and you're probably no better off at that point.

Setting aside issues such as thermal cycling for a moment. If a PC and OS architecture could be developed that would boot almost instantly, the problem of computers left sitting on "because it takes too long to boot up" could be drastically reduced.

That's where most of the waste is occurring...when they're not in use.

Re:Buy a laptop - end of story. (1)

solevita (967690) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212624)

Great post; I love my low power drawing laptop, especially as the performance of it is more than I usually need. What I do need, however, is hard drive space and lots of it. I've got a few disks (about 1TB in total) in a tower PC that I'm trying to run as greenly as possible.

My way of doing it? An old PC that doesn't even need a fan to keep the processor cool, a tiny power supply and running it all headless. I should buy a power plug meter to run a comparison as you did, but I'm quite confident that the draw is as low as I can get it.

Re:Buy a laptop - end of story. (2, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212774)

That's not at all surprising, but not for the reason you think. Laptops work by using a battery to moderate the power consumption. You drain the battery down to typically 95% or so before your charge circuit kicks in and brings it up. That means that unless you measure over a long period of time, you will get a false low reading because the external brick is in trickle power mode.

Even if you measure over a long period of time, however, a laptop will still always be more efficient than a desktop for a number of reasons:

  • Smaller display = less power, generally speaking. They also usually don't have as bright a backlight, which also generally means less power.
  • 2.5" hard drives use dramatically less power than 3.5" hard drives
  • Laptops on the average have less RAM, and that's a huge power sink
  • Laptop drivers generally tune CPU use in a more conservative way to favor lower power over better performance
  • Laptops have a lot less hardware. Most of the legacy I/O isn't there, the built-in keyboard and trackpad don't draw nearly the power of an external keyboard and all the required support hardware, etc.
  • The battery averages out power drain, which means that the power supply's peak power doesn't need to be significantly above its continuous power. This allows you to use a smaller supply, which results in significantly reduced waste.

That last one bears restating. While it is true that switching supplies do draw power from the mains that is somewhat proportional to the current drain on the output, they are most definitely not linear. This means that efficiency for smaller supplies is significantly better than for larger supplies. While you don't want to undersize a supply, oversizing the supply will result in fairly significant power waste [silentpcreview.com] . By being able to ignore the need for extra peak power (because of the battery), you would expect the efficiency of a laptop power supply to be several percent better (on the average) than a desktop even if all other factors were equal.

The only real question, then, is why desktops don't all have built-in backup batteries in them. It would be far more efficient than a UPS, and it has benefits in terms of power supply efficiency as well....

Re:Buy a laptop - end of story. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18213526)

Every laptop I have ever seen ran just fine without a battery in it(as long as it is plugged in, har).

Re:Buy a laptop - end of story. (1)

FuturePastNow (836765) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212908)

And the lesson is to use mobile and integrated components, in laptop form or not. Here [silentpcreview.com] is a review of the power consumption of an Apple iMac, but you could easily build a computer with a laptop CPU/GPU etc.

An added benefit of mobile components is that they don't need much cooling, so you get a quiet computer, too.

Not the end of story: OS Matters. (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#18213304)

... laptop makers are always trying to cut corners on power usage.

OS choice is important too and this has harmed power savings for everyone.

Laptops have to keep up with crazy stuff from M$ that now requires a 350 watt video card for it's interface. Laptop power consumption has dramatically increased over the last ten years, which is why they can burn your lap. My five year old laptop needs twice the power supply my ten year old laptop did. The proportional increase is just like desktops.

Laptop power usage is still much less than desktops and the increased power consumption is offset by power management that has worked, at least under GNU/Linux. The best way to save power is to have sleep and hibernation working when you don't really need the computer. On desktops, that has not always worked because M$ never pushed it or could even use it due to various OS and application problems. Vista finally has power management and desktops may finally work right.

The best solution, of course, is to combine the best efficiencies in one place. I'm easily able to get along with older thinkpads because GNU/Linux is efficient. You can get the same kinds of components for desktop systems and they will save power as long as sleep and hibernation work, but Vista won't run on them. A bonus is that your system is quit and cool.

Re:Buy a laptop - end of story. (1)

Chonine (840828) | more than 7 years ago | (#18213624)

This makes all the sense in the world. A couple of years ago I kind of decided that a computer should either be a laptop or in a rack somewhere, and every computer in the house is a squeeky green used laptop that is only on when used, and hibernating when not. Of course, the rackmount server in the closet is much harder to be green, so I make sure to buy my annual carbon credits to ease the guilt.

It doesn't help save the planet. (1)

n2art2 (945661) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212268)

All it does is slow the death of the planet. . . . a little. . . very little.

Re:It doesn't help save the planet. (1)

DDLKermit007 (911046) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212720)

I think your confusing death of the planet with death of the human race. The planet will recover quite eaisily once we screw up enough & stop creating pollutants through extinction.

Re:It doesn't help save the planet. (1)

n2art2 (945661) | more than 7 years ago | (#18213044)

Agreed, but I was replying to the usage of the word in the slashdot article.

But Such things do effect much more then just the human race. Global warming, effects the planet, and those effects on the planet do effect the human race, as well as many other things.

Green... (1)

pizza_milkshake (580452) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212304)

If you want to be green, how about *not* buying a shiny new energy-guzzling behemoth of machine in order to satisfy Vista's minimum requirements and running Linux on it instead :-P I have looked into the energy-efficient UPSs though [parseerror.com]

Three things to consider for a green PC (5, Informative)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212308)

1. The monitor uses a lot of energy, so a laptop is better as it uses a flatscreen panel - or a PC with a flat LCD panel.

2. The power supply on most PCs is designed for a full draw, so it is far better to get a laptop which has a power supply for a smaller draw than a giant 300W PC power supply.

3. Memory is cheaper than CPU, so it is far more efficient to buy a PC with a decent AMD chip that has low power consumption and then cram it full of as much RAM as it can address, than it is to buy an Intel quad core chip you don't really use with minimal RAM. And remember your graphics card has it's own power draw. Basically, RAM is usually 1000 times faster than a hard drive, and can be used for swap files, and to speed processes, so cram it more full of RAM if you want to extend the life of your system and avoid power-intensive disk access. Consider a flash USB drive as well - very low consumption. And use rechargeable batteries for your optical cordless mouse and other devices - ignore the warnings, they work fine.

Re:Three things to consider for a green PC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18212462)

but what if I don't want to buy a laptop and want to heat my room with my Giant Gaming quad-core PC instead?

Notebook (1)

iamacat (583406) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212354)

Why spend all the effort on an energy-efficient desktop when many companies have already invested tremendous money to maximize battery life? These days, expandability problems of laptops have been largely solved with Firewire 800 and whatever is the current replacement for PCMCIA. Its more productive to spend your time installing double-pane windows, sealing off drafts in your house with insulation tape or shopping for a fuel-efficient car.

Re:Notebook (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212708)

These days, expandability problems of laptops have been largely solved with Firewire 800 and whatever is the current replacement for PCMCIA.

Most laptops are still on 400Mbps firewire, if they even have that (although IEEE1394 has definitely become more prevalent, especially in laptops.) And the current replacement for PCMCIA is called ExpressCARD, while the last one was called Cardbus.

Its more productive to spend your time installing double-pane windows, sealing off drafts in your house with insulation tape or shopping for a fuel-efficient car.

Yes, YES, and NO, in that order.

Glass is relatively benign although it still takes quite a bit of energy to make. Sealing off drafts in your house is practically free (in fact PG&E or other power companies will often GIVE you the materials to do it with.) But if you have a car that gets even 17 MPG it will take you literally longer than you will probably be driving to reach the point where you've saved enough fuel to make up for the energy that went into producing a hybrid, let alone something that gets say 35 MPG.

Re:Notebook (1)

Tyr_7BE (461429) | more than 7 years ago | (#18213540)

Absolutely. My file server is running happily off of an old 500MHz Compaq laptop, and has been running happily for years. The thing is discreet enough to be tucked into a corner, and barely sucks any juice whatsoever. Laptops are the way to go if you're interested in energy savings.

168 Watts is not efficient (4, Insightful)

msmithma (524984) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212366)

This article makes an inefficient computer when there are plenty of available components that use considerably less power. My favorites include the Via http://www.via.com.tw/ [via.com.tw] line of processors and motherboards and the PICO PSU from http://www.mini-box.com/ [mini-box.com] claims >90% efficiency for all of its models. Using these components you can make a system that uses about 30Watts instead of the 168Watts in the article. Thats a five fold difference!

Re:168 Watts is not efficient (2, Insightful)

jcgf (688310) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212530)

I built a system based on a via epia 6000 at 533MHz. It uses little power and basically runs like shit. It takes 15-18 hours to transcode an avi to DVD while my Athlon 64 3500+ can do it in less than 2. So you need to ask yourself, does it really save anything?

By the way, I'm looking to sell the epia system (1gb ram, 30gb hdd, slim dual layer dvd burner in a travella case), if anyone is interested reply to this post.

Re:168 Watts is not efficient (1)

chill (34294) | more than 7 years ago | (#18213446)

It all depends on what you use the computer for. Do you spend most of your time ripping and transcoding DVDs?

Low power systems like the VIA units are fine for every day tasks. They're even okay for dealing with video and ripping, if you don't spend your life doing it.

The VIA boards have built-in MPEG-2 encoding/decoding, making them very efficient for watching that transcoded DVD.

And a suggestion, if I may. You might want to consider just buying bigger hard drives and not bothering to transcode at all. Just use VOBcopy and rip straight to unencrypted MPEG-2. The files are bigger -- like 5 Gb as opposed to 1.2 or so with XviD -- but ripping a disk takes like 2-3 minutes even with the VIA CPU. The VIA will handle playback without an issue.

Re:168 Watts is not efficient (1)

Shatrat (855151) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212544)

Those PICO PSUs you refer to seem to all be DC-DC power supplies for use in automotive applications. For any kind of home use you would need an AC-DC power supply, and that's much more difficult.

Re:168 Watts is not efficient (1)

msmithma (524984) | more than 7 years ago | (#18213336)

For the Pico PSU you do need an additional power brick like you plug into a laptop (which basically holds a transformer, a rectifier and a big capacitor)

Re:168 Watts is not efficient (1)

dextromulous (627459) | more than 7 years ago | (#18213522)

For the Pico PSU you do need an additional power brick like you plug into a laptop (which basically holds a transformer, a rectifier and a big capacitor)
Yeah, or for those of us who live in the year 2007 and purchase a new "power brick," it holds a switch-mode power supply that is considerably more efficient (and often more electrically noisy.) Still, overall I think you would have to be very lucky to get 80% efficiency from an AC->DC->DC solution.

Re:168 Watts is not efficient (1)

chill (34294) | more than 7 years ago | (#18213348)

No, you get the little AC adaptor power bricks like laptops have and plug into that. http://www.logicsupply.com/index.php/cPath/40_64 [logicsupply.com]

Re:168 Watts is not efficient (2, Informative)

HoneyBeeSpace (724189) | more than 7 years ago | (#18213400)

Via Technologies, Inc. is shipping a new processor and starting a "Clean Computing Initiative" aimed at offsetting the chip's environmental cost. They claim it is the worlds first "carbon-free" CPU [via.com.tw] .

Best solutions (3, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212458)

The article also discusses how to configure Windows Vista to utilize its power-saving options

You are attempting to power down Vista.
Cancel or Allow?
Allow
I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

Any more cliches we can apply here?

I, for one, welcome our power-saving-bleeding-heart-liberal overlords.

In Korea, only old people conserve power.

Imagine a Beowulf cluster of these low-power-draw PCs! (kinda defeats the purpose, huh?)

1. Design low-power PC.
2. Turn on power-saving options in Vista
3. ???
4. Profit! (actually, there is no 3. lowering power consumption is the profit-making step)

The best way to reduce power consumption in Vista is to allow chairs to be thrown at your PC until it stops working.

Disclaimer: I once worked for a PC manufacturer
The demand of the free market will cause PC manufacturers to make low-power PCs. Any regulations mandating low power consumption are doomed to fail and will inversely lead to market inequalities resulting in increased power consumption and fewer low-power alternatives for individuals who want to be free like their information. This is why I created my philospophy of lawlessoprofiteeringism.

Sorry, 5 PM on Friday, couldn't resist.

Re:Best solutions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18213332)

You forgot, "In Soviet Russia, power consumes YOU!"

Re:Best solutions (1)

cheftw (996831) | more than 7 years ago | (#18213574)

First real soviet russia joke is ages and noone mods it up. You insensitive clods!

Fine, but first things first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18212490)

Honestly, we've got to stop putting so much carbon dioxide into the Martian atmosphere. It's heating up that planet something awful. The Martian once frozen poles are melting! Two rovers is obviously two too much.

Oh yeah, and while we're at it we must figure out who is using their time displacement technology in the future to pump undetectable carbon dioxide into cyclical periods of Earth's past, including the Middle Ages, making it appear as if the Earth can vary wildly in temperature without human intervention. Obviously the planet cannot warm or cool due to solar activity, or cosmic rays creating clouds. Global warming must be related to human activity, so time travel has to be the vector.

It's the only reasonable explanation.

I think the real value or point of the story is (4, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212494)

that if you do everything that you can to be more environmentally friendly, it helps. In fact, every little bit helps. This is a math problem that finds its value in large numbers. If each of us saves 12 watts per hour of use, that could make a huge difference. 12 x 600 million computers (home and business) is somewhere in the area of 7.2 Billion watt hours, or 7.2 million kilowatt hours. Not sure about you, but that is a lot of saved CO2 emissions. Do the same with your old fridge, say you save 75 watt hours per day, multiplied by say 350 million units. You end up with more HUGE savings. Try this on lights, appliances, hot water heaters, A/C units and it really does add up, so supporting power saving devices is worth the effort.

By effectively ignoring this opportunity simply because its not a huge savings for each individual, we miss an opportunity to save hugely in both environmental costs, and overall operations costs for those companies supplying our electricity.

Eventually, both will translate into a better world, in some small way or other, and both should stave off utility bill cost increases, if not stop the growth of electricity usage.

Re:I think the real value or point of the story is (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212666)

Do the same with your old fridge, say you save 75 watt hours per day, multiplied by say 350 million units.

Especially with large appliances, cars, and the like, you typically save a hell of a lot more energy by continually repairing it and by not buying a newer, more efficient model than you would by going and buying the most energy-efficient model you can find.

The amount of energy that goes into building the average appliance is truly astounding. You have to consider all of the materials that went into making it, and all of the materials that went into making them; All of that stuff is dealt with at some level by people, who have to be fed; that food was grown somewhere, it was shipped from somewhere, and it was prepared. They have to be clothed, and that clothing is made from plants and from plastic. The plastic is made from oil which was typically pumped from the ground in one country and shipped to another country, refined and some of the products sent to some other places, where they were turned into some kind of plastic and shipped to another place to be made into thread, then shipped to another place and made into cloth.

Now, failing to buy an energy-efficient whatever-it-is when the old one finally dies beyond repair (although few things ever are ACTUALLY beyond repair) is horribly irresponsible. But to replace your existing unit solely for energy efficiency is usually horribly misguided.

Re:I think the real value or point of the story is (2, Informative)

hankwang (413283) | more than 7 years ago | (#18213544)

Especially with large appliances, cars, and the like, you typically save a hell of a lot more energy by continually repairing it and by not buying a newer, more efficient model

As of 2005, the energy cost of manufacturing a car is 3 MWh (0.6 tons of CO2 equivalent) [greencarcongress.com] , partially thanks to the fact that many parts of a car are recycled. Your mileage my vary, but that is equivalent to burning about 300 liters of gasoline. Replacing a gas-guzzling SUV (12 liters per 100 km) by a compact (6 liters per 100 km) will pay back in just 5000 km, energy-wise.

Another site says that 94% of the CO2 emissions of a car are related to fuel production and consumption [wri.org] .

Re:I think the real value or point of the story is (1)

Radon360 (951529) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212772)

Not discounting that helping the environment isn't a noble motivation in and of itself, but something that would be more universally accepted as motivation is that it will save you money. $25 a month is perhaps another night you can go eat out, or, over the course of a year or so, money for the next batch of software/hardware upgrades needed to fend off obsolesence.

Then again, if you're a Silicon Valley/Redmond, WA multi-billionaire, you're probably more motivated by the first reason.

Even if you don't really care about eco-friendly (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212548)

Get a good PSU anyhow. They are great. The less power usage = less heat, slower fan, less noise. Also, the better ones tend to have better regulation and put out more stable power. The one I really like is the Corsair HX series (they have a 520 and 620 watt supply). Amazingly quiet PSU, even in my fairly heavily loaded system.

So it's really a win-win kind of thing. Even taking any sort of environmental concerns aside, a good PSU a a good buy.

DSL routers as web servers? (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212658)

Does anyone know whether there are any hack to turn DSL routers into basic web servers? My ideal solution, would be:

    - main computer powered down
    - DSL router serves basic web site
    - If requests are made on ssh port or 'extend web site', then Wake on LAN is sent to main PC
    - PC goes to sleep after a certain amount of idle time or explicit command

Of course this is probably only useful for home PCs, but this would allow the main computer to only be on when it is needed.

NSLU2 (1)

a16 (783096) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212808)

The Linksys NSLU2 is a nice little device, it's a little ARM based linux box that you're supposed to plug USB disks into and use as a NAS. But of course you can run linux on it (even normal Debain), and hence you could get the setup that you're looking for going I imagine. And super low power usage. Only £55 as well: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NSLU2 [wikipedia.org] http://www.nslu2-linux.org/ [nslu2-linux.org]

Forget CO2 (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212686)

You get a better, quicker bang for the buck reducing methane. It's a bigger culprit in warming, and cycles out of the environment in less than a decade.

So, I guess you need to build a vegetarian computer.

Using a Watt Meter to Measure Power Usage (1)

Rick17JJ (744063) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212696)

The power plug on my desktop computer is plugged into to a Kill-A-Watt [thinkgeek.com] Watt meter which shows that I am using 94 Watts at the moment. My large 19 inch monitor uses a different power cord and is using additional power not included in that figure. I have an older socket 939 version of the AMD-64 3800+ which, when running a 64-bit version of Linux, throttles the CPU back to 1 GHz during light usage to save power. Under heavy usage it goes up to its full 2.4 GHz speed and uses significantly more power then. I don't have Windows XP on this computer, but my guess would be that it would probably do the same thing. It has not sure how the AMD-64's energy efficiency compares to Intel or other AMD processors. I am not a gamer and am using an ordinary video card that probably isn't very power hungry and doesn't even have a fan. The computer's power supply is the 83% efficient Antec Phantom 350 power supply, which is an energy efficient fanless 350 Watt model that Antec used to make. I also have 2 very large hard drives and 1 GB of RAM.

I haven't yet had a chance to read the article, but decided to post my power usage for comparison. A laptop would probably use even less power.

Re:Using a Watt Meter to Measure Power Usage (1)

Rick17JJ (744063) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212758)

Ooops, looking at the specs, I see that the power supply is 85% efficient (not 83% efficient). I just wanted to correct that minor detail.

Inconsequent (4, Insightful)

thsths (31372) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212784)

This guy wants to build a "green PC", and he uses a wireless keyboard with batteries? I give him the benefit of the doubt: maybe he was not around yet when all the eco hippies were running their holy crusade against batteries. But anyway the problem should be obvious: getting two new batteries every few month probably offsets all the savings of a few kilowatt hours. Especially if they are just thrown in the bin.

Summary: too much hot are to be green.

Buy an Abacus - End of Story (1)

whtmarker (1060730) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212820)

Low power? Green machine?

Try an abacus [wikipedia.org] , the most environmentally friendly calculation device (and avoid the ones that use lead-based paint).

Or did you mean an environmental friendly computer [bowdoin.edu] ?

Thinkpad vs Prescott (2, Insightful)

linvir (970218) | more than 7 years ago | (#18212834)

In this room sit two very different computers:

  • A P3 Thinkpad laptop
  • A P4 Prescott desktop

I still love using that Thinkpad, because it hardly even needs a fan, whereas the desktop is practically heating the room [linuxvirus.net] .

Just thinking about it makes me want to sell my desktop on ebay and use the money to stock up on old Thinkpads to save for the future.

RoHS != Guilt-Free trash (3, Informative)

neonfrog (442362) | more than 7 years ago | (#18213116)

Several times he said something like, "It's lead free and RoHS so you can throw it away guilt-free!" That's just not true!

RoHS does not equal guilt-free trashing. It attempts to equal a full cycle approach.

RoHS stuff is low lead, true, BUT it is marked with a little trashcan that has a line through it. That icon is telling you DO NOT THROW THIS IN THE TRASH. Have it properly disposed of or return it to the manufacturer. While it contains no lead, it may contain OTHER hazardous materials (eat some no-lead resistors and a slice of PCB, tell me how that makes you feel). It needs to be reclaimed, and NOT end up in a landfill. That's what RoHS is ALSO about.

I'm not a super greenie (I *am* wearing a green shirt) but even I know that trash is a part of the green picture. He had a shred of info about low power and efficient power supplies, but green does not equal guilt-free trashing. Ever.

I'll Worry About Global Warming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18213208)

When our Sun finally expands to be a bloated red giant or a meteor slams into the Earth turns the crust into a sea or molten rock.... Until then I am all for Al Gores $4,000 per month Gas and Electric utility bills. He has worked so hard making sure us uneducated, unwashed masses fear the future. Algoore needs the chance to sit back, relax and vent off some CO2.

Vista power saving strategy (1)

spidkit (992102) | more than 7 years ago | (#18213318)

Never, ever boot it.

not just an energy issue (4, Interesting)

PhysicsPhil (880677) | more than 7 years ago | (#18213434)

The article talks largely about the power consumption of a computer, but simply making the silicon chips is a major undertaking as well. In the small research facility I work in, we have:

* Several thousand square feet of cleanroom, stabilized at 40% humidity and controlled at 20 C, with the full air volume being changed every two minutes. The air conditioners run all day, every day.
* Deionized water cascade system, which run at 4 litres per minute (think flushing your toilet every minute). The DI loop uses several litres of city water to make one litre of DI water.
* Oxidation furnaces, which typically run at 1000 C
* Photoresists and solvents of all kinds, ranging from the generic acetone (nail polish remover) to the really nasty stuff. I just replaced 20 L of solvents today to replace what we used over the last week. We trap the used stuff, but it all has to be disposed of safely later (incineration in some cases).
* A variety of chloro- and fluorocarbons, including C4F8, used for silicon etching. It's not really possible to trap the stuff, so it goes up the stack and depletes the ozone layer.
* A large number of deposition and etching systems, each with very large vacuum pumps running continuously. We shut these off at Christmas, but that's it.

This is just for a small-scale research lab. For an industrial fab, this would be multiplied many times over. Just making the silicon chips has a nontrivial environmental impact.

I tried once... (1)

Cervantes (612861) | more than 7 years ago | (#18213622)

I tried to make a green PC once. I thought I did a really good job.

Then some Greenpeace hippies beat the snot out of me for using up 4 cans of aerosol spraypaint....
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