Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Building a Green PC

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the in-time-for-st.-patrick's dept.

Earth 190

Kermit writes "Ars Technica has put together a green DIY system building guide. The idea is to build a PC offering decent energy efficiency as well as solid performance. The 'Green Gaming Box' draws about 125W at full load (not including a monitor); the minimalist 'Extreme Green Box' uses a mini-ITX case and a VIA CPU-motherboard combo for about 30W at typical load. If you want to mix and match components, or modify your current system so that it uses less energy, there are plenty of options for swapping out individual components."

cancel ×

190 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Paint it green! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22556670)

Or black.

Re:Paint it green! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22556816)

"We need some black PC's, there are not enough black PC's" - Al Sharpton

Nothing is easier (3, Funny)

Bin Naden (910327) | more than 6 years ago | (#22556690)

Nothing is easier than building a green PC, just take out the can of green spray paint.

Re:Nothing is easier (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22556760)

You think that's easy? The time and effort goes into the masking up. And the green LEDs don't come cheap, err wait .... shouldn't that be blue LEDs, green LEDs aren't cool.

"Green Computing" (5, Insightful)

cccc828 (740705) | more than 6 years ago | (#22556706)

As long as rain forests are stubbed for easier access to copper mines
As long as local people are poisoned by the toxic byproducts of metal refinement
As long as people in Africa or Eastern Europe dissable old computers without any protective clothing
As long as children assemble computers for $1/hour in Asia

I refuse to equal "green computing" and enviromental friendly.

In truth it is just another catchy phrase to sell you yet a new computer. Buying a new computer does nature more harm than just keeping your old computer.

Re:"Green Computing" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22556716)

Yeah, not shit. Poluting the planet in the name of cutting carbon footprint is retarded.

Re:"Green Computing" (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22556754)

The green movement is all a big money grab. Why do you think they call themselves after a color long associated with money?

Re:"Green Computing" (4, Insightful)

upside (574799) | more than 6 years ago | (#22556820)

You're right. From the manufacturer's point of view being greener is a competitive advantage. It's up to consumers - and depending on your political views, government regulation - to make sure it's a big advantage. Don't use the "out to make money" an excuse to disregard environmental considerations and personal responsibility when making purchases. "Manufacturers of hybrid cars are just out to make money, I might as well buy an SUV". On the other hand, as an employee you can also affect the behaviour of your company. Keep asking what the company is doing to reduce waste. Phrase it so it sounds appealing - saving power and improved efficiency save costs for the company.

Re:"Green Computing" (2, Insightful)

bhima (46039) | more than 6 years ago | (#22556736)

I think you have confused the concepts of ethical and green. That and disable and disassemble.

Not that I wholly disagree with your sentiments.

Green == production and Green power (4, Insightful)

emj (15659) | more than 6 years ago | (#22556776)

The most important part of getting a Green computer is the cost to the environment to produce the computer. Buying new computers just to get a green computer is hence very stupid. Better than try to build a green computer would be to use an old computer and go over to green electricty. If you are going to buy a slow VIA computer yo umight as well have an old computer.

The problem with costs today is that no long term costs are included in prices, copper mines that poison areas bigger than Los Angeles have no obligation to pay for what they destroy. The mining inudstry is very very dirty, they some are situated near natural reserves, which mean we are going to have to fix everything after they have shut down.

There are mines in Sweden that are still being cleaned up, 30 years after shutting down.

Re:Green == production and Green power (2, Interesting)

bhima (46039) | more than 6 years ago | (#22556986)

My family runs a foundation which I work for part time. As part of that work I have helped construct and outfit some clinics in a few mining towns. Two that stick out in my mind are in Peru and in Namibia. Without being there, seeing it, and treating the people who live in the surrounding areas I don't think most westerners can even imagine the extent of damage mining really does.

Re:Green == production and Green power (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 6 years ago | (#22557466)

Some of us westerners live in mining towns. North Americans may have toned down the strip mining, but we're not above knocking off the top of a mountain if it suits us.

There are people around where my inlaws live that are still dying of mining-related diseases, despite living in "the west".

Re:Green == production and Green power (1)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 6 years ago | (#22557120)

copper mines that poison areas bigger than Los Angeles have no obligation to pay for what they destroy.
If the copper mine were situated in the middle of Los Angeles, it would certainly have to pay for the destruction it causes. You can't just poison other people's land without their agreement. Who does the land belong to and why aren't they vetoing the construction of the mine if it would poison what they own?

If the country they live in is corrupt and ignores the wishes of the landowners; or if the people there are just serfs, working land that belongs to somebody else, being a rich landowner or the Party; then that is something that needs a political answer to fix the underlying problem.

(BTW I agree with everything you said)

Re:Green == production and Green power (1)

nicklikesfire (720684) | more than 6 years ago | (#22557236)

Except that the indigenous people living in Peru and in Namibia might not have the same concept of ownership as the western world. Land that they had lived on for hundreds or thousands of years was most likly taken without their consent, or otherwise stolen, because they have chosen not to participate in this train wreck we call modern society.

Re:"Green Computing" (2, Funny)

funny money (1115417) | more than 6 years ago | (#22556772)

C'mon!! Any "attempt" to make the earth greener should be lauded. Personally, I have a little plant atop my monitor.

Re:"Green Computing" (0)

BestNicksRTaken (582194) | more than 6 years ago | (#22556782)

I wish I had some mod points to give you!

Green Computing is going to make fsck all difference in the grand scale of things when we're paying naff all wages to people in China, and getting huge amounts of pollution back in return.

Using a few watts less on your gaming rig is not going to make any difference to your "carbon footprint" or your electricity bill.

Re:"Green Computing" (5, Insightful)

BVis (267028) | more than 6 years ago | (#22557914)

Using a few watts less on your gaming rig is not going to make any difference to your "carbon footprint" or your electricity bill.
That just isn't true. The generation of electricity still releases CO2 into the atmosphere; less electricity generated = less CO2. Not to mention that your electricity bill is (generally) directly proportional to how much energy you use, so if you use less energy, your bill is lower.

What you're saying is that if I have 20 marbles in a bag, and take two out, I still have 20 marbles in the bag. It's just not true.

All these little steps add up over the long run. Reducing your energy consumption by 3% might not seem like a huge difference, but if millions of people do it, it makes a difference. I recently measured how much power my computer rack uses, and found that I could cut usage by 25% through a few simple steps (like making sure the CRT I sometimes use on my firewall is powered down, setting the drives in my system to spin down after a certian amount of idle time, etc.) The whole thing (three computers, two monitors, various networking bits, laser printer) consumes 300 watts at idle. That 100 watts I save from shutting off the monitor adds up to 584 kW/h each year (if it's off 16 hours each day), which in my state keeps 7,475 pounds of CO2 out of the atmosphere, and saves me $97 in electricity annually. From only shutting off a monitor!

The shit adds up. Throwing your hands in the air because there's no one thing you can do that's a magic bullet for the energy problem is cynical and lazy.

Re:"Green Computing" (5, Insightful)

upside (574799) | more than 6 years ago | (#22556794)

There are obviously various dimensions to "going green":
1) Not buying. Reuse instead.
2) Buying as little as possible.
3) When buying, buy environmentally friendly.

You can take a queue from data centers where power and heat are major issues. Instead of having a spinny whirly storage (or even solid state) on every PC, use NAS or SAN. If you've got to have 2nd - Nth PCs, use PXE, NFS and iSCSI for storage. Virtualization can help save power, too.

Re:"Green Computing" (2, Informative)

SammyB (903607) | more than 6 years ago | (#22557944)

It's called Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. They are not in that order to just sound nice.

Re:"Green Computing" (2, Insightful)

gosand (234100) | more than 6 years ago | (#22558410)

There are obviously various dimensions to "going green":
1) Not buying. Reuse instead.
2) Buying as little as possible.
3) When buying, buy environmentally friendly.


I am sure some people here would be shocked, but I run a Duron 1.3 processor, with a Zalman fanless heatsink, and 768 MB of PC-133 memory. I run dual displays (CRTs) but they shut off after 5 minutes of inactivity. The machine is up all the time (current uptime is 70 days), so I am sure I am pulling some power. I live in AZ, and in the summer it get HOT in my office... so I rigged dryer hose to pipe the PS air out into my garage. (luckily, right next to my office) I installed a low-speed fan on the garage side to help pull the air. It made a very noticeable difference in the temperature in my office. My buddy was having issues with his P4 3.2 machine, and he just bought a new Dell. So he gave the old one to me. It turned out the video card was fried, and one of the PSU fans was dead. Instead of buying a new PSU, I just hard-wired the fan on the PSU to run off of one of the 5v connections. In my area, you can put out your bulk trash once a month. I saw one of my neighbors put out a PC... I thought I could scavenge it for parts. Upon getting it home, I found out it was a fully working Sempron 3200 system! It only had a 30GB HDD and 256 RAM, but was fully working. So now I have two fully working PCs sitting here. I'll probably replace my Linux machine (Duron) with the P4, and my dusty Windows machine (Athlon 900 slot!) with the Sempron, after buying a memory upgrade.

It just amazes me what people are willing to just throw away. Both of those computers were only 3-4 years old. While anything remotely new would blow it away in performance, they are completely usable for daily use.

Re:"Green Computing" (2, Insightful)

Robot waste unit (1246410) | more than 6 years ago | (#22556804)

Exactly. The energy footprint is fairly easy to offset with a renewable power source. The cost of manufacturing and disposing of the thing is where the problem lies.

Re:"Green Computing" (1)

joaommp (685612) | more than 6 years ago | (#22556822)

This reminded me of the Prius problem mentioned on slashdot last year. People were claiming that the manufacturing process of the Prius would pollute more than the quantity of pollution that would be avoided by using it.

Re:"Green Computing" (1)

fbjon (692006) | more than 6 years ago | (#22556976)

That sounds unlikely, unless you disregard the recycling at the end of the cars life.

Re:"Green Computing" (1)

Z34107 (925136) | more than 6 years ago | (#22557444)

No, it's true. Biggest problem is how to dispose of that rechargeable battery with all those chemicals and heavy metals in it; they're a lot nastier than your regular car battery.

Second biggest problem is building that battery in the first place. IIRC, nickel and other ore refined using chemicals that make oven cleaner look like lemonade, then sent to Japan for manufacture into intermediate parts, then sent back to China for assembly into the actual battery, before being shipped to America. Lots of miles on a boat, that is.

Re:"Green Computing" (1)

misanthrope101 (253915) | more than 6 years ago | (#22557700)

Well, considering that Toyota already has a recycling process in place, I'm not sure how much of a problem it is for you. The question of how much pollution the car causes, to include manufacturing and emissions both, has already been looked into. The Prius is the best alternative, pollution-wise, on the road (assuming you count only production cars). Yes, the batteries are shipped, as are transmissions and other replaceable parts on regular cars.

If you're stuck on the shipping question, be fair and consider the 50% more gasoline, that also has to be shipped and trucked to your gas station, used by other vehicles. Not to mention that money spent at the gas pump sends money to Wahaabi fundamentalists who want to destroy the USA, whereas money spent on a Prius sends money to Toyota engineers who just want to make fuel-efficent cars.

The Prius doesn't save the world, but it does hurt the world less emphatically than other cars. It still uses recources, and still spits out emissions, but on balance it is far greener than the other cars out there. The issue really isn't that murky.

Re:"Green Computing" (1)

Z34107 (925136) | more than 6 years ago | (#22557800)

It uses different resources, tho. Less black gold, more earth metals.

But, it's not like I care - I drive a Buick Roadmaster, the thing's the unholy combination of a boat and a tank, and has a V8.

MPG doesn't matter if you don't drive much, or very far, and maintenance isn't bad.

Re:"Green Computing" (1)

knivesx11 (1085179) | more than 6 years ago | (#22557220)

While that is a highly debated point, I do believe it is accurate thanks to the use of the NiCd batteries used in the prius as nickel is a very dirty metal to mine and refine. It is really along the lines with zinc and copper.

Re:"Green Computing" (2, Funny)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 6 years ago | (#22557350)

This reminded me of the Prius problem mentioned on slashdot last year.


Aren't you supposed to seek medical attention if it goes on for more than 4 hours?

Re:"Green Computing" (1)

joaommp (685612) | more than 6 years ago | (#22557368)

I usually seek girl's attention when it happens... doesn't solve it, but feels better.

Re:"Green Computing" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22557562)

My gf likes my Lamborghini Priapus a lot better than your Toyota Prius.

Re:"Green Computing" (1)

joaommp (685612) | more than 6 years ago | (#22557858)

Really? I thought your medical record said that you had a small motorcycle that needed unleaded 95 from Pfizer.

Re:"Green Computing" (1)

whrde (1120405) | more than 6 years ago | (#22556824)

Very well said! Anyone who thinks they are someone who respects the environment and the people who physically pay for the production of new computers should ask themselves if they really need a new computer or not. I mean need.

Do my computing needs really increase every year? Why would I buy a new computer just for a shiny, unusable, new operating system?

The first step to actually making a decision would be to know more about it. What are the costs of production in terms of environmental and human exploitation? What are the costs of usage? What are the costs of disposal? I imagine very few consumers actually know and understand this information.

Voodoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22557018)

Hey, you forgot all the voodoo chickens sacrificed to keep those damn servers running.

The bodies piled up outside most offices is a serious public health risk.

Re:"Green Computing" (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22557104)

As long as children assemble computers for $1/hour in Asia

Damn these kids should be forced not to work and live in the slums! How dare they try to make money for themselves. $1 an hour is a disgusting amount, I have no idea how much stuff costs in these places but what ever it is $1 isn't enough! or its too much! Either way these large factories that do nothing but make things cheaply for the masses should be burned to the ground so that everyone has to go back to grubbing through bushes for berries and live in a swamp! Won't someone please think of the berry grubbers jobs??!!

Re:"Green Computing" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22557650)

Who gave those kids a raise?

Re:"Green Computing" (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 6 years ago | (#22557908)

Assuming you are talking US$ here (there are so many $ in the world), you obviously don't know what you are talking about. US$1 per hour is a very good salary there. No kidding. More common salaries for assembly workers in China are about USD3-4 per day, 10-12 hour working days. In India maybe a little higher but not much, certainly not on the countryside.
And still many of those workers consider it good money.
The rest of your sentiments are very reasonable though.

How can computing ever be green? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22556722)

All that embodied energy for a start, to say nothing of the lead, cadmium and other nasties...

However, given that we can't uninvent computers, this kind of initiative is a good start. But don't be tempted into scrapping a working system to replace it with a "green" computer - better wait until your existing box actually stops working to make the best use of _its_ embodied energy. It's the same argument as with cars - overall it's worse to scrap a working car just to replace it with a prius, even though your emissions will be reduced.

I've often wondered about the relative merits of a virtual hosting account versus a low-power box at home, to run my mail, dns, website etc. - whic is _really_ greener? Any thoughts?

If you're serious about green, go matte black (5, Insightful)

parlyboy (603457) | more than 6 years ago | (#22556734)

Get a used Thinkpad.

Lower energy usage. Recycled. Probably faster than the VIA. And you can beat a burglar to death with it.

What's not to like?

Re:If you're serious about green, go matte black (1)

khellendros1984 (792761) | more than 6 years ago | (#22556756)

Plus, it has those beautiful, blocky edges. And you can get it in any color you want, as long as you want black!....Seriously though, the IBM thinkpads are very nice machines. I've been using mine for 5 years, and it's working just as well as the day I bought it (and that's with hauling it around a college campus in a backpack, etc)

Re:If you're serious about green, go matte black (1)

eknagy (1056622) | more than 6 years ago | (#22556768)

I've just bought one - but burglar is not included.

Notes from the Thinkpad manual (5, Funny)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 6 years ago | (#22557658)

And you can beat a burglar to death with it.
12-c: Using your Thinkpad as a Weapon

Your Thinkpad can be used in self defense, should the situation arise. If your model is not equipped with a solid-state disk, or a conventional hard disk with a safety accelerometer, the computer should be put into standy or hibernation mode, or ideally powered off before use as a weapon.

Technique

Grasp the Thinkpad firmly with both hands at the front corners, and swing down on your target, striking with the underside and rear corners. Do not swing the Thinkpad by any cords or dongles. Advanced users may hold the unit by the front with one hand for fast melee attacks.

After Battle

Open the unit and ensure that all internal components are seated properly, as some may have come loose during battle. Clean any spills with a slightly damp cloth and dry immediately. If bodily fluids should find their way inside the laptop, hold it upside-down and let the fluids drain out, remove the battery and send it to the nearest Certified Repair Center.

Refer to section 5-a on installation and removal of internal components.

*Note that battle damage is only covered under the Extended Service Warranty.

you forgot something (1)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 6 years ago | (#22558388)

In order to truly make your thinkpad green you will need some of this [laist.com] .

Mac mini (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22556766)

http://www.apple.com/macmini/specs.html [apple.com]

Maximum continuous power: 110W

Re:Mac mini (1)

odoketa (1040340) | more than 6 years ago | (#22556890)

While it's not perfect, the mac mini is certainly an easy option for those who want to reduce power consumption. We use ours as the home server, and it draws significantly less power than its predecessor, a mac g4.

Through the magic of the kill-a-watt [the-gadgeteer.com] , I measured the draw of the mini under its usual workload (which was near idle, as this is a home server that doesn't really need much horsepower to run its processes, but does need to run them 24/7) and found it to be around 35 watts. Which is roughly equal to my laptop, which makes sense, since it's all laptop parts anyhow.

I don't think you should call it a 'green' option, but it might be a 'greener' option than what you're using now. And it comes all nicely pre-built, with lots of warm friendly mac-y goodness inside.

If that's what you're into.

I'm sure someone has noted it by now, but it's worth pointing out that turning off the power using a power strip (or just unplugging from the wall) is also a good idea. The old g4 server I mentioned earlier actually drew 10 watts when turned off, due to some weirdness with the power supply. Also, if you don't need it, pull the discrete video card - those suckers eat electricity like it's going out of style.

Re:Mac mini (4, Interesting)

clare-ents (153285) | more than 6 years ago | (#22557192)

We colocate and run dedicated servers on Mac Minis. Electricity prices in London data centres are crippling. In a standard 2kW rack we get 55 Mac Minis - 37W each. The guys in the rack next door have 6 Dell 1950s. They look at us enviously and mumble about the cost of Windows server licences. On the other side we've got people with a HP blade server (just one!) unhappy that they haven't enough power to fill it with blades, whereas we've got 3 times as many CPU cores and a massively lower hardware cost.

http://www.mythic-beasts.com/ [mythic-beasts.com]

Re:Mac mini (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22557686)

What are you doing for redundancy?

Re:Mac mini (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22557764)

We colocate and run dedicated servers on Mac Minis. Electricity prices in London data centres are crippling. In a standard 2kW rack we get 55 Mac Minis - 37W each. The guys in the rack next door have 6 Dell 1950s. They look at us enviously and mumble about the cost of Windows server licences.
Nice gimmick, but guys that actually use the features of Dell 1950s [dell.com] wouldn't be jealous of a bunch of home computers with no Linux support from Apple, non-ECC memory, home-grade CPU/chipset, slow hard drive (no RAID or SAS), no hot-plugging (hard drives, power supplies), and no supported management hardware/software. For guys that actually use the performance of Dell's 1950's hardware (dual Quad-core Low Voltage Xeons are an option), then the performance per watt far exceeds a rack of Mac Minis.

Also, these Dells can be configured with Linux (with support) or ordered with no OS installed (install Linux yourself). Don't know why those guys would be mumbling about the cost of Windows.

Re:Mac mini (1)

initdeep (1073290) | more than 6 years ago | (#22558398)

They weren't.
Obviously.

"this one time, my cousin told me, at band camp....."

Ahh how I love these passed down "stories".

Re:Mac mini (1)

AntEater (16627) | more than 6 years ago | (#22557572)

http://www.apple.com/macmini/specs.html [apple.com]

Maximum continuous power: 110W
Actually, it's quite a bit better than than. I used a Kill-a-Watt to test my 1.25ghz G4 mini and it uses around 18 watts under normal loads (iTunes playing, Mail.app, Terminal.app, safari and Emacs open). When it goes to sleep it uses less than 3 watts. Paired with a flat panel monitor with DPMS and you've got a very low impact system.

The newer intel units consume about twice that much power (around 35w) from what I've read but still are very efficient compared with most PCs.

Of course, the impact from the manufacturing process for any computer is big enough to dwarf it's utilization. The longer you hold on to a machine, the less environmental damage you're creating. This mini was purchased when Apple first released them in early 2005. I just upgraded it to Leopard figure it has at least two more years before I have to think about an upgrade.

Re:Mac mini (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22558182)

http://www.apple.com/macmini/specs.html [apple.com]

Maximum continuous power: 110W

Shuttle XPC X100

http://us.shuttle.com/X100_4.aspx [shuttle.com]

Power adapter: 120W
Graphics: ATI Mobility Radeon X1400 with dedicated graphics memory
CPU options: 1.6GHz Celeron M up to 2.16GHz Core 2 Duo
Hard Drive: Up to 750GB 7200rpm
Card reader: integrated SD/MMC/MS/MS-Pro

The Mac mini uses slow, small notebook hard drives (max 160GB 5400rpm) and slow, outdated Intel integrated graphics (GMA 950 with shared memory).

I don't have a green PC (4, Interesting)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 6 years ago | (#22556774)

Tagan 800w PSU, Core2Quad Q6600, NF4650SLI motherboard, 8800gtx, backlit keyboard, wireless mouse (with transformer).

However, I DO ride a motorcycle, pumping out far less CO2 than almost any other motorised road vehicle.

I also don't have a TV, as my PC does everything I need it to. MORE savings. It's not about a green PC, it's about reducing load on the grid. I do it by having less equipment, not greener equipment.

Re:I don't have a green PC (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22556870)

However, I DO ride a motorcycle, pumping out far less CO2 than almost any other motorised road vehicle.
As will your lungs, after you die in an automobile accident since nothing lies between your body and the pavement. I guess the resulting hamburger that is your corpse will fertilize plants, so yeah that's kinda green. I prefer two tons of steel wrapped around me and the other 70 MPH idiots on the road, environment be damned.

Re:I don't have a green PC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22556978)

you are clearly as american as cheddar.. i mean american cheese.

Re:I don't have a green PC (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 6 years ago | (#22557022)

As will your lungs, after you die in an automobile accident since nothing lies between your body and the pavement. I guess the resulting hamburger that is your corpse will fertilize plants, so yeah that's kinda green. I prefer two tons of steel wrapped around me and the other 70 MPH idiots on the road, environment be damned.

I'd rather die on impact than end up having my legs minced by the steering column and have to shit into a bag for the rest of my natural life. That's not why I ride a bike, though.

Bikes are no more dangerous than cars; It's the idiot in control that causes accidents.

Re:I don't have a green PC (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 6 years ago | (#22558036)

Bikes are no more dangerous than cars; It's the idiot in control that causes accidents.

That is precisely GP's point. You are only a small fraction of the equation compared to the tens or hundreds of cars you drive by/with on a given day. You can be the greatest driver in the world but it only takes one idiot to knock you out for good.

Don't get me wrong, I bicycle to work in the summer, rain or shine. I love it. But don't fool yourself, the bike is far more dangerous than the car. When two cars collide, the chances of both parties walking away from the scene is far, far higher than when a car collides with a bike.

Re:I don't have a green PC (3, Interesting)

heapcat (1237224) | more than 6 years ago | (#22557202)

However, I DO ride a motorcycle, pumping out far less CO2 than almost any other motorised road vehicle.
Not quite true. http://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~siah/MiniProjects/MotorcyclePollution.html [berkeley.edu] In urban setting yes, but in rural or highway driving they pump out more CO2 pollution. About 50% more.

Remember less gas != less CO2. Just check your lawn mower.

Re:I don't have a green PC (1)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 6 years ago | (#22557242)

"I also don't have a TV, as my PC does everything I need it to."

So you watch TV using your nuclear reactor of a computer? Yeah, that's going to help the load on the grid.

The universe is dieing... (-1, Flamebait)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 6 years ago | (#22556800)

.. so why should we care, there was a /. article a few days ago talking about the earth being vaporized so what are we saving exactly?

Re:The universe is dieing... (0, Offtopic)

WaZiX (766733) | more than 6 years ago | (#22556880)

.. so why should we care, there was a /. article a few days ago talking about the earth being vaporized so what are we saving exactly?
Your new car you just bought will almost certainly be destroyed within 25 years, why don't you just crash it directly? What are you saving exactly?

Re:The universe is dieing... (0, Offtopic)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 6 years ago | (#22556994)

You didn't answer my question you just asked you own.. The earth is going to be pulled into the Sun, the universe to dieing.. What are we saving?

Want a real green pc for free? (1)

terraformer (617565) | more than 6 years ago | (#22556802)

Then keep the machine you have and turn on system standby/sleep functions. It is free and will save far more power than anything Ars is hocking.

Re:Want a real green pc for free? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22556876)

Objection: assuming that I ever leave the computer chair

Are you krazy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22556836)

$1,438.81 for a slow VIA box? I am green, but I ain't that green.

Re:Are you krazy? (1)

Nos. (179609) | more than 6 years ago | (#22557740)

That's a pretty extreme example, the MB, CPU, Memory and case they have listed are under $400. I'm actually in the process of putting together a mini-itx Via system for a Mythtv frontend. Looks like I should be able to do it for around $200 (no HD though, I'll do network boot).

hmm. (3, Insightful)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 6 years ago | (#22556846)

build modular components that can be combined, recycled and handed down. the trick to being green is to mandate power efficiency and buy/recycle intelligently. for computers it maddens me that people get a top of the range high power monster to browse the net and do word processing, when their old PC would of done the job fine. MS and their ilk persuade people to upgrade by relying on things like redundant feature creep and security FUD to stop them using older versions, but in reality older versions could be relied on to do the work if security patches were updated. you do not need a quad core 2GB machine to read email, but you do need a whizzy machine to run vista and thats were MS makes their money. use that older PC as a work horse for 5 years instead of 1 and you have been five times more green. on another note with LCD screen, I was thinking the other month if anybody has every consider a LCD monitor where the backplate can be tilted down flat with a mirror surface to shine sunlight up into the back of the screen - aka a natural backlight? i ask as thats one of the major power drains on a laptop and you would not need that much sunlight to make it readable. roll on an epaper laptop with flash storage for extreme low power/long battery usage. how an "Asus EEE-Paper"?

Re:hmm. (1)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 6 years ago | (#22557196)

for computers it maddens me that people get a top of the range high power monster to browse the net and do word processing, when their old PC would of done the job fine.

I love when people do that: I'm a dumpster diver! :-D

My wifes PC (I don't have a PC anymore, I just use hers) is a PC from around 2003. I upgraded it a bit left and right when RAM was on sale, or I'd get a better video card somewhere.... It's a Hyperthreaded P-IV 2.6GHz with 2Gig RAM. 5 years old, and still going strong for everything we do on it. Of course, we don't do stuff like ripping DVDs or edit home video, but for what we do it's absolutely enough. The motherboard even supports SATA: the next upgrade is to replace the 120Gig IDE drive with a 500Gig SATA drive.

I promised my wife a Mac if this one stops working. I don't expect that to happen within the next few years. Bummer for her that I know how to maintain computers ;-)

Re:hmm. (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 6 years ago | (#22557392)

It's a Hyperthreaded P-IV 2.6GHz with 2Gig RAM. 5 years old, and still going strong for everything we do on it. Of course, we don't do stuff like ripping DVDs or edit home video...

I have a very similar level PC, and ripping DVD's and editing video works just fine.

Re:hmm. (1)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 6 years ago | (#22557460)

I pretty much assumed that, but I never tried so I wasn't 100% sure. I added that phrase mainly to counter eventual people that would say "Wait until you rip dvds/edit video/edit photos/....".

I played Portal on that machine and it was very playable at 1024x768... I still have to start Halflife 2, but that's mainly because I lack diskspace, hence the planned upgrade (I have the disk, just not yet the occasion to switch it...)

Energy Efficiency (1)

bhima (46039) | more than 6 years ago | (#22556860)

I'm interested in buying energy efficient products and ecologically sound products and I am just getting to the point where I am wanting to update the server in my studio.

After doing a bit a research I have concluded that I will hold off until the summer. I am not a big fan of VIA and I'm sure that their processors aren't capable enough for my particular needs. The new CPUs from Intel have better performance per watt (or what ever metric you chose to use) than the older ones but they haven't released the Low Voltage Dual Core UP Xeon I'm interested in yet (Xeon L5250). The new Intel Socket 775 / 3200 chipset motherboards consume less power than the older ones, however the upcoming Intel chipsets are supposed to be much better in this regard. System memory is still problematic though, I understand FB-DIMMs consume a lot of power. I had fingered the Samsung Spinpoint F1 as a good choice for an energy efficient hard drive.

I am completely under-whelmed by 80+ ATX power supplies and I'd like to find a power supply which reached better than 90%. I did find a company N2Power that does make such things but they do not have an offering which includes a wiring harness. Making a wiring harness does not really fill me with wild enthusiasm though...

If the past is any indication of the capability of Operating Systems to rapidly take advantage of new power saving techniques available in hardware, these new ones will be an abysmal failure. However, my studio isn't a 24 hour a day operation so being able to power down the main RAID and under-clock the system bus & CPU is a very important thing to me. I'm not completely sure how to overcome this little annoyance.

I know none of these ideas touch on buying ecological sustainable products or ethically traded products. Frankly it's hard enough trying to come up with power efficient parts... I fear that the only truly ecological sustainable & ethically traded product would be an abacus and I have my doubts about that.

Re:Energy Efficiency (5, Funny)

demon driver (1046738) | more than 6 years ago | (#22557574)

I am not a big fan of VIA
As far as I understood TFA, the low-consumption VIA CPUs actually don't need big fans.

Power Supplies (1)

SIGBUS (8236) | more than 6 years ago | (#22558400)

I am completely under-whelmed by 80+ ATX power supplies and I'd like to find a power supply which reached better than 90%.

On the other hand, even an 80+ supply is far better than older ones. Last year, an old Antec 300W supply died in my file server after a capacitor went *pop* (the classic bad capacitor syndrome [badcaps.net] ), and I replaced it with an OCZ 700W unit (overkill, I know, but it had lots of SATA power connectors, and eliminated a rat's nest of adapters and Y-cables). I was flabbergasted to see that the load on the UPS dropped by 50%.

Laptop... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22556862)

If you want to go "low power consumption", go with a laptop.
Even a stock laptop, will probably consume less than your best effort at a "green" computer.

As an aside, has anybody tried going full DC with a green computer?
Instead of using the AC-->DC power supply?

Could we build a steam-driven computer? (1)

Hugo Graffiti (95829) | more than 6 years ago | (#22556882)

One thing I've often wondered: with the knowledge we have now and the technology available to the nineteenth century (or maybe up until about the 1930's say) could we go back and reinvent mechanical or valve driven computers, only make them much faster than they knew how then? (Eg like an updated version of the Analytical Engine [wikipedia.org] ). Would come in handy if a world-wide catastrophe occurred and we were all plunged back into the dark ages in terms of industrial capacity but we still had the knowledge. (Provided we remembered to make a hard copy before the asteroid struck :)

I have no idea if it is true but (2, Interesting)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 6 years ago | (#22557084)

I had a friend who was interested in church organs. Evidently even early organs has pneumatic "switches" that would switch the airflow to multiple pipes from a single key. My friend said that if Babbage had consulted an organ builder and used pneumatic components he would have been able to build a working computer at the time. And they were very green, the air from the larger early organs came from water power, displaced by water filling an air-filled chamber. Smaller organs used "chorister powered" bellows.

Cryptonomicon (2, Funny)

demon driver (1046738) | more than 6 years ago | (#22557660)

Yeah, I've seen the idea of an organ-pipe based computing machine detailed in Neal Stephenson's 'Cryptonomicon'. The fictitious machine was not exactly what we'd call low-noise, though.

OLPC XO laptop (4, Interesting)

lobiusmoop (305328) | more than 6 years ago | (#22556904)

125W? For a _really_ green PC, check out the XO-1 [wikipedia.org] . It is not just physically green, it runs at 2-3W. Another upshot of this is that the battery life is 9 to 10 hours.

Re:OLPC XO laptop (0, Troll)

legoman666 (1098377) | more than 6 years ago | (#22557050)

I think you missed the bit where the article said "PC" and not "hideous green thing with rabbit ears." Besides, I'm certain there are even lowered powered PC's out there.

Re:OLPC XO laptop (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 6 years ago | (#22557388)

Isn't that the draw only in idle mode? That, when active, it's slightly higher?

Still, when running I read the screen uses 2W instead of the typical notebook LCD 25-35W. And it's also readable in daylight (alas in B/W). The rest of the savings come from it being a relatively low performance CPU and the SSD harddrive.

Why can't the 2 grand Macbook Pros have this screen? Or any notebook for that matter? I read that the OLPC leader refuses to commercialize the patents, but that seems myopic on his part -- he could be doing something for the environment (less electrical use all around) while directly financing his project and making the economies of scale really work if everyone starts producing these for notebooks/desktops/TVs/etcetera.

A green PC would be okay but for many cases it saves more overall energy if people stick with their current PCs as long as they can instead of throwing them out after a few years. For the typical home user, strategies as setting them to go on standby or, better yet, hibernation after 1/2 hour helps a lot. Unless it's a server of a type, there is no need to keep any of them running 24/7. Try consolidating several servers onto one computer. These also can be set to go off and on at certain times in the BIOS. No need to keep a file or print server running in middle of the night in most cases. Most modern printers also connect to ethernet directly these days which can completely cut out a print server and some routers have harddrives that act as file servers that use much less energy than an entire computer.

Anyway, most home users will probably affect the environment more if they switch from incandescent bulbs to CFL bulbs. It's cheaper too, and you recoup your investment between 2 months to a year.

How much carbon does it cost to build the green PC (1)

giles hogben (1145597) | more than 6 years ago | (#22556924)

It might use less energy, but do they take into account how much energy it takes to build? If not, it could use more energy in a lifetime.

Crysis (1)

Fnord666 (889225) | more than 6 years ago | (#22556928)

Somehow I don't think it's going to run Crysis very well. Never mind.

That's not very green (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 6 years ago | (#22556932)

If you really want to be green, get a Palm Pilot (or some feature rich cell phone equivalent) with a rollup keyboard. Plug it into a monitor & that's about as green as you can get.

http://www.palminfocenter.com/view_story.asp?ID=6455 [palminfocenter.com]
I guess it depends on what you consider a PC

Kermit writes (4, Funny)

MT628496 (959515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22556992)

Am I the only one that chuckled at this?

Re:Kermit writes (1, Redundant)

ajcham (1179959) | more than 6 years ago | (#22557074)

... it's not easy being green.

Shut off BOINC (1)

thornomad (1095985) | more than 6 years ago | (#22557056)

I liked the idea of distributed computing until I found that it was drawing an additional 35 watts of power from the normal idle of my server ... which seemed a little too high price to pay to find an alien. I will wait for them to email us.

Buy a Mac. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22557058)

A secret that GreenPeace doesn't want you to know about:

Mac's are designed to be more energy efficient. See some comparisons [blogspot.com] .

There's something wrong with conservation (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22557098)

Imagine one day you noticed the brakes on your car were squeaking. You need your breaks, they allow you to stop, but if you continue using your breaks you figure they might fail, and then you won't be able to stop. So you ignore the problem for a while, but pretty soon it becomes apparent that this whole squeaking breaks thing is probably serious. Not really wanting to confront the problem head on, you decide to hire someone to "take a look at them" but not actually fix them. After careful study, he informs you that yes, your breaks are shot and won't last much longer.. he can't give you exact idea of how much longer you can keep driving on them, but he assures you that eventually they will fail. So what do you do?

One option is to get them fixed. Of course, if no-one knows how to fix your kind of breaks then it might not be. You could always hire someone to try to figure out how to fix them.. or you could throw them out and get brand new ones. What isn't an option is just using the breaks less. Sure, if you have to keep driving the car it might make sense to lay off the breaks until you come up with a way to fix them, but unless you're actively looking for a way to fix them, you're just delaying the inevitable.

Of course, you could just get a new car.

Yes, this is the worst car analogy ever made, did you like it?

Re:There's something wrong with conservation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22557300)

Ok, cince you used an analogy that you know very little about let me fix it for you.

If I want to conserve my Brakes, I simply engine brake. I downshift and let the clutch out to slow the car down, it is in fact incredibly effective and I can even lock up the tires and slow down almost as fast as the brakes can do for me. also On a vehicle with NO brake pads left at all the metal to metal contact will in fact slow you down quite well. Talk to many of the people that drive in Cuba and other very poor countries. They drive daily without brake pads.

So the BEST thing to conserve on a car is the brakes. How to make no brake pads safer? well you could do the most un-american thing and drive slower and carefully to anticipate the problems and choose routes that do not need you to mash the brakes on hard.

Yes you picked the WORST one because brakes can be used long after the pads have failed. the only part of the brake pad system that can not be "conserved is a brake fluid leak, if you ignore that leak and let it continue to spurt while you conserve you precious time and money you will get to a point where you will not be ableto use that pedal to stop you, you still can mostly stop with the engine by downshifting, if you war ok with stalling, you can completely stop.

NOTE: 90% of the cars on the road still have the factory brake fluid in them and are heavily contaminated with water (brake fluid is hygroscopic) Most cars on the road are in incredibly poor repair as you need to change brake fluid, transmission fluid, trans-axle fluid, etc... Most people do not do it. People conserve on their cars not out of need but out of lazyness.

Re:There's something wrong with conservation (1)

OneSmartFellow (716217) | more than 6 years ago | (#22557582)

Yes, this is the worst car analogy ever made, did you like it?

No, because your misspelling of the trivial word brake, confusingly spelled correctly on the first usage, then never spelled correctly again, made me wonder what the hell you were getting at !

Refurbished Laptop (1)

clay_buster (521703) | more than 6 years ago | (#22557182)

Go green? Go get a refurbished laptop. They consume less power and come with a built in UPS. My Dell only has a 65 watt p/s. A used laptop has reduced environmental impact since no new raw materials must be mined or refined. Get a refurbished one from the manufacturer's leasing outfit (say Dell dfsdirectsales.com) and you get a manufacturer's warranty. I have a couple Dell Latitudes. The port expanders use a little more juice (less than 90watts) but support two external monitors in addition to the internal LCD.

The greenest PC (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 6 years ago | (#22557190)

Is no PC at all...

Wattage is the new penis size (2, Informative)

smchris (464899) | more than 6 years ago | (#22557258)

Not my original quote. It's true. I replaced the PS on 24/7 MythTV and DSL web server machines and my 17 hour/day desktop with 300 w 80Plus PSes. Work fine. Dropped my power bill by $10-12/month.

I have to believe some huge corporation will catch on to this and _demand_ 80Plus for their next thousands of machines and in 10 years we'll be amazed that computers were sold without efficient power supplies.
 

Green Software + Hardware (5, Insightful)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 6 years ago | (#22557314)

We would not need to worry about the topic of 'green' PCs if we did not have such bloated software that continues to require ever more CPU cycles per second to accomplish their task. There was a time when software was written in to be tight and memory efficient. WordPerfect for DOS comes to mind.

Low-power PCs are a good idea, sure, but we need our software to also be efficient. The two, together, could get us a long way toward truly 'green' computing.

And while I am ranting about bad software design...

AC-to-DC conversion is messy and lossy. Fortunately, we do have servers that can take DC directly from a shared AC-DC power supply. This concept needs to move into the home. Why should my PC, monitor, printer and God knows what else all each have their own AC-DC power converter box? Homes could have a single large converter and then have DC-only outlets for all those appliances that need it.

Re:Green Software + Hardware (3, Interesting)

Stachybotris (936861) | more than 6 years ago | (#22557750)

AC-to-DC conversion is messy and lossy. Fortunately, we do have servers that can take DC directly from a shared AC-DC power supply. This concept needs to move into the home. Why should my PC, monitor, printer and God knows what else all each have their own AC-DC power converter box? Homes could have a single large converter and then have DC-only outlets for all those appliances that need it.
That's such an insipidly great idea (especially when you stop and consider that all of your consoles, your TV, your stereo, and pretty much every other electronic device in your house is running a rectifier of its own) that you just know it won't even be considered. From the hardware standpoint, however, it wouldn't actually be that difficult to implement - you'd just have to get a standardized power cable and outlet. Oh, wait, we have those already - we use them in racks.

And from an economical/'green' standpoint, that's just another cost that can be rolled into the price of a new home. Everybody wins!

people use what they want, not what they need (1)

misanthrope101 (253915) | more than 6 years ago | (#22557790)

There is already software that is easier on resources. How many people use Word when Abiword, or even a text editor, would do what they needed? I use OS X, and to tell the truth, Textedit and TexShop pretty much meet my actual requirements. Actually, vi and iTerm would meet them, but you get the point. But people don't use what they need--they use what they like. What they like depends on more than just need. Familiarity, convenience, vanity ("I'm a power user, so Abiword isn't enough for me!)", and who knows what else goes into that.

If Wi-Fi worked out of the box, I'd be fine with Damn Small Linux, Puppy Linux, or a similar distro on a 5-year old laptop...but it wouldn't be as fun, as shiny, as oooh-aah-ish as the latest and greatest. Well, that is until I wanted to use Handbrake and I no longer had the encode times I get with a dual-core 2Ghz chip. Then all of a sudden the retro thing wouldn't be as cool anymore.

Re:Green Software + Hardware (2, Informative)

ps236 (965675) | more than 6 years ago | (#22558154)

Switched-mode power supplies (as found in most 'big' computing equipment like PCs, monitors, printers etc) are pretty energy efficient, and can use almost no power in 'standby' mode.

Having one big DC supply with lots of outlets in your home is likely to be less energy efficient (because of the large voltage loss over long cable runs at high currents) than having local ones.

That's not to say that having one SMPS per PC, with DC outlets on the back of the PC for monitor, printer etc wouldn't be a good idea - in fact I'd have thought that would be an excellent idea. (As would having DC outlets on the back of your TV for the DVD, TiVo, XBox etc).

The problem might be that there's a patent on this (http://www.freepatentsonline.com/5768600.html) :(

what's in your pc... (1)

pig-power (1069288) | more than 6 years ago | (#22557358)

1) buying a new pc: $987 2) buying a new monitor: $235 3) one can of Krytox forrest green paint: $3.99 4) owning a green pc: priceless

125 watts?! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22557402)

125 watts at full load being "green"?! That is not even remotely green even if it included the consumption of the monitor. The "green" deal is nothing but another tricky way to suck money out of customers on yet another computer they don't really need. Keep your old machine; there's alot more "green" in doing that.

Just for comparison: I have a 1.9ghz AMD-equipped machine with 1GB of RAM running on a 5400 RPM 2.5" drive and a capable graphics card that I use, among other demanding things, for playing World of Warcraft (hold the jokes for a while). This machine idles at 45 watts and reaches just under 70 watts when both CPU and GPU is stressed to the limit. The monitor I use is rated for 42 watts at full brightness, which I never have it set for due it being too bright for me. This setup, -including- the monitor, never hits 100 watts.

Perfect for the living room (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#22557868)

This thing will go great with my 52" plasma TV! Never let it be said that I'm not environmentally conscious.

Quick and cheap advice (4, Insightful)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 6 years ago | (#22558314)

Here's a couple of quick and cheap tricks for turning your existing computer greener:
  • Get one of these Intelli Panel [oneclickpower.com] or similar (there are other brands). Basically it's an "intelligent" panel where you plug your computer to a master socket and all the peripherals to the other sockets. When the computer is on, all the other sockets get power, when the computer is off, all the other sockets have no power. If you add up the trickle power consumed in standby mode by the power sources of all the peripherals (usually at least 3 - monitor, printer and loudspeakers) you will see that this thing pays itself after a while (for the typical techie setup this thing pays itself in no time)
  • Under-clock your CPU. Really! Just do the exact opposite of all those over-clocking articles: reduce the frequency (say, 10%), reduce the Voltage if possible, remove the enormous fan from the top of your CPU cooler. The power vs frequency behaviour of a CPU is non-linear - especially at the top of it's frequency range - so a small reduction in speed = a large reduction in power consumed. See http://download.microsoft.com/download/9/8/f/98f3fe47-dfc3-4e74-92a3-088782200fe7/TWDT05003_WinHEC05.ppt [microsoft.com] (page 13) for an example. Ditching the fan and getting a quieter machine in the process is just a pleasant side effect of this.
  • Under-clock the GPU and memory of your graphics card. (i bet that at this point most hard-core gamers out there are doubting my geek credentials). Ditch the fan if you can. Same rationale as for the CPUs.
  • If you still have a CRT monitor, get an LCD one instead. No explanation needed here IMHO


This should be enough to save you quite some $$$ in your energy bill and polish up your green credentials.

For a more radical approach, consider getting a notebook instead of a desktop for your next upgrade: notebooks will, by design, consume less power than desktops.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>