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Displays Power Entertainment Games

Power Consumption of a Typical PC While Gaming 211

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

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  • I love kill-a-watt (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bandman ( 86149 ) <> on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @02:36PM (#23938525) Homepage

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

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

  • by DRAGONWEEZEL ( 125809 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @02:37PM (#23938553) Homepage

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

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

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

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

  • by Capslock118 ( 936446 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @02:46PM (#23938697)
    I have a kill-a-watt as well. I have been increasingly obsessed with the amount of energy my house uses and I am proud to say we are staying under 440 kWh per month. While I have not tested out my machine thouroughly (I do not have it on much anymore) on Idle i was spending 450 watts. Now, this was between the power supply and the wall, so maybe the machine was using less power, but ultimately thats what it was drawing (the power supply is 450 watts so this makes sense to me). I can hardly believe that the router mentioned was using 8 watts, what is the time period there? I know the power supply on my linksys router is in the milliamps so, basic conversion would indicate to me that is not possible. I am probably thinking of something backwards though. But regardless, wouldnt the power supply dictate the amount of power used regardless of what the computer actually uses?
  • Little information (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kelz ( 611260 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @02:46PM (#23938701)
    All he talked about with regards to the PC was the processor and video card. What power supply was he using? A super efficient one or a super stable one? How many peripherals were hooked in? Hard drives? Fans?
  • Worth the cost (Score:4, Interesting)

    by wolf12886 ( 1206182 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @02:51PM (#23938785)
    Where I live we pay $.08 per kilowatt hour, so running my computer 24/7 costs me (assuming 190 watts at idle) $11 a month, which is not nothing, but is certainly worth the convenience.

    Also, I doubt the leds on any of the devices mentioned account for nearly any of the measured current draw, 20ma at 5v is .1w, so you'd have to have to have a hell of alot of leds to make a noticeable difference in power usage. most of that current is probably being burned up in the wall wart, linear regulators or transmitters, if I had to guess.
  • by mr_mischief ( 456295 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @02:59PM (#23938915) Journal

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

  • by wolf12886 ( 1206182 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @03:02PM (#23938961)
    Depending on where you live, that could work the other way as well, ie, offsetting your heating bill.

    My tower doesn't produce much heat, but when I'm gaming with my 360, I swear its like having a space heater on, if you've never felt the air coming out of the exhaust fans, its something like putting your hand at the mouth of a hair dryer.
  • Accuracy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @03:10PM (#23939091)

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

  • by bughunter ( 10093 ) <bughunter&earthlink,net> on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @03:26PM (#23939339) Journal
    No kidding. I bought a MBP almost two years ago, and a few weeks after I bought it, I got into the nightly habit of using it on my lap in front of the TV to browse the web and play games while my wife watched her programs.

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

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

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

  • by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @03:40PM (#23939559) Homepage Journal

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

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

  • by mariushm ( 1022195 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @03:54PM (#23939771)

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

  • Re:Worth the cost (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RoverDaddy ( 869116 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @04:28PM (#23940399) Homepage
    Wow, what pompous, righteous indignation over 190W! You have no idea what this person's lifestyle is, whether they do lots of other things to help the environment and keep their energy costs low. My PC is on 24/7 too, for several reasons:

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

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

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

    BTW, I'm very jealous of the $0.08/KWH price. Where I live (Massachusetts, US) the cost of electricity is more like $0.20/KWH.
  • by billcopc ( 196330 ) <> on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @06:24PM (#23941953) Homepage

    Actually, Dell uses the term "laptop" on official communication, including the front page of their web site.

    The whole "don't call it a laptop" scare is pure nonsense dreamt up by some ignorant middle-manager or escalation expert. I didn't work there long, just long enough to realize I didn't want to be that escalation expert, so I turned down the promotion and left shortly thereafter. Like any call center, the rules are mostly made-up on-the-fly, and the people making the rules are usually the least technical in the building.

  • by billcopc ( 196330 ) <> on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @06:30PM (#23942025) Homepage

    Dan's Data was around back when Tom's Hardware was just a bunch of teenagers chipping at the Berlin wall with claw hammers.

    He's got an odd personality at times, and is anything but objective, but the man tends to know his facts.

    And yes, a power supply's efficiency and load capacity are adversely affected by temperature. That's partly why the better ones weigh a ton : big bad-ass heatsinks.

  • by Ihmhi ( 1206036 ) <> on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @10:37PM (#23944401)

    After you figure out your kWh usage for your respective devices, this kWh cost calculator [] is useful for finding out how much it costs to run it during a period of time.

    I leave my computer on all the time. I highballed its power usage at 200 watts to factor in the speakers, monitor, and computer itself (the monitor is not on all the time, but the computer is nowhere near 200 watts - so I just did a rough estimate.

    You would also want to find out much a kWh costs in your state [] to plug in the correct values. I set it up for $0.11 a kWh, also a big higher estimate.

    My father insisted that my computer was the reason the power bill was over $200 one month. It's nice to be able to tell him that it only costs about $15 a month to use. (:

Solutions are obvious if one only has the optical power to observe them over the horizon. -- K.A. Arsdall