energy conservation and desktops

mshen11mshen11 Solar Expert Posts: 185 ✭✭✭✭✭
in the name of energy conservation... what is a good watts number for a low power desktop? how about a monitor? what is the average watts? what is the most efficient on the market?

Comments

  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: energy conservation and desktops

    This is one of those things computer manufacturers don't say much about. I've seen there are some Energy Star rated monitors, but for the most part they figure if you've got a wall outlet it doesn't matter.

    The other thing is; energy usage varies with application. In 'sleep' mode or 'hibernation' the consumption drops to zero, as the unit essentially shuts off but 'remembers where you were'. When it's writing to a CD or DVD it will ramp to the max in order to power all the hardware (laser and motors for the drive). On average, our desktops (four of them of different vintages) consume about 120 Watts each. But it can be as high as 200 and as low as 0.

    Consider a laptop. We just bought one and naturally I plugged it in through the meter and watched as it booted up. Maximum Watts was 40. That's one fifth of a desktop. It averages around 30 in use, and hovers around 20 much of the time. Far less power consumption, and it can do everything the desktops can 9except run the old software, but that's a different issue).

    Don't trust manufacturer's labels. When I first bought an LCD monitor it was rated at 175 Watts; basically the same as a CRT. In reality it draws about 50 at most.

    It's a good concept: most energy efficient computer. Certainly these things account for a significant amount of energy consumption in the world today. Can we get manufacturers to comply? Good luck. Until they see it as a marketing advantage they won't be interested. Even the Energy Star rating can be misleading, because it applies to units "in their class" so you have to be sure your comparing comparable models.

    I see one of the local electronics shops is promoting Energy Star TV's this week. Normally their advertising centers around how big the screen is. Get the idea?
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,041 admin
    Re: energy conservation and desktops

    I agree with Marc...

    If you can go with a laptop type computer for most of your applications--you are much better off...

    20-30 watts for even a "big" 17"+ unit--and remember that is monitor+CPU power.

    Also, a laptop comes with its own UPS/Battery -- don't need the extra losses of passing through an external UPS.

    And, sleep/turn them off when you don't need them:

    (120 watts comp + 50 watt monitor)*24 hours per day*30 days per month*1kW/1,000W=122 kWhrs per month.

    I try to be reasonably efficient at our suburban home and run around 200-250 kWhrs per month for the whole house (family of 4, natural gas for hot water/heating/etc., no A/C).

    Just one desktop left on 24x7 would be 1/2 our total monthly bill.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • bryanlbryanl Solar Expert Posts: 175 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: energy conservation and desktops

    The backlight on the monitor is one of the big power draws. You can't do much about it except turn it off when not in use.

    As far as the computer itself, that depends on the processor to a large extent. Modern CPU power draw will vary considerably depending upon what you are doing. i.e. the motherboard stuff is highly optimized and tends towards minimizing power draw depending upon current computing need in modern machines.

    The peripherals are generally not that much of an issue compared to the CPU these days. Hard drives can run about 10 watts to a processor's 100 watts, for instance. Again, the trend in newer devices is to only use what power is needed for the current demand for service.

    Other than getting a machine that is well matched to your needs and using effective power settings in your OS for idle and standby, the effort tends to be one of diminishing returns.
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,124 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: energy conservation and desktops

    Lap top, lap top, lap top!

    Buy a lap top, use an external keyboard or dock, and if you NEED a bigger monitor plug it in when you need it.

    Tony
  • mshen11mshen11 Solar Expert Posts: 185 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: energy conservation and desktops

    well laptops are definitely the way to go and ive been striving to be desktop free. BUT there are advantages:

    1. cpu vs price skyrocket compared to desktop
    2. im trying to build something that is equivalent to a TIVO (but w/out monthly fees). and preferably out of spare parts (being in the field i have access to a lot of components that are lying around). laptops usually have built in video and never w/ tuning capability. of course theres usb tuners.....
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,041 admin
    Re: energy conservation and desktops

    And one of the reasons I have not been thrilled with the TIVO/DVR type devices (even cable, digital DTV receivers, and satellite boxes too)... They seem never to go into a low power mode (turn of disks, slow processor way down, etc.) based on the fact that they probably are recording for way less than 1/2 their "on time"...

    The few I have ever looked at take virtually the same amount of power when "on" or "off/standby". Maybe the newer ones are better now...

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • n3qikn3qik Solar Expert Posts: 741 ✭✭
    Re: energy conservation and desktops

    Look at the mini ITX mother boards. Using a dual core Atom they are in the 40-60 watt range. If you can wait a another month or so. There will be more Atom/Nvidia Ion boards out. This setup is good for 1080 output.
  • mshen11mshen11 Solar Expert Posts: 185 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: energy conservation and desktops

    got curious and looked at the specs for the dual core atom...

    ouch - only 1 PCI slot and no additional slots for graphics card (PCIe)? its low powered because its doesnt have much features on it. i guess w/ greater power (for things like graphics), it comes w/ great price [dollar or watts]
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: energy conservation and desktops
    mshen11 wrote: »
    got curious and looked at the specs for the dual core atom...

    ouch - only 1 PCI slot and no additional slots for graphics card (PCIe)? its low powered because its doesnt have much features on it. i guess w/ greater power (for things like graphics), it comes w/ great price [dollar or watts]

    This is true of all things. One nice aspect of desktops is that they can be run day after day without shutting down; they don't have the heat dissipation problems that still plague laptops (my first lap top fried; I actually had to put ice on the CPU to keep it running long enough to remove the data from the HD). The down side is the enormous power consumption.

    As with so many situations, it's a matter of what you want to do that really determines whether you're wasting energy or not. Want to drive from Halifax to Vancouver? Fine. You can do it in a Honda. Oh, but you want to bring your entire household of goods along with you? Then you need a Peterbilt. Maybe you could do it with the Honda, but it'd take 1000 trips and end up using more fuel and producing more pollution.

    (In terms of this forum, the better example would be generator loading. But that's not as dramatic or humourous as envisioning someone driving across Canada in an Accord with the dining room table tied on the roof. :p )
  • RCinFLARCinFLA Solar Expert Posts: 1,280 ✭✭✭
    Re: energy conservation and desktops

    The geometry of the processor matters. 90 nm parts generally draw more then 65 nm which generally draw more then 45 nm parts. 90 nm parts run on 1.6vdc. 65 nm run on 1.3 vdc. 45 nm parts run on 1.1 vdc.

    Also factor is number of processors, their speed, and cache memory size.

    For example, I have a Q6600 quad core 90 nm computer. It draws about 150 watts. I have recently built two mini-towers with E7500 duo core C65 processors. They draw about 60 watts.

    An LCD monitor draws between 40-55 watts depending on size. The backlight is large piece of their consumption.
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 4,879 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: energy conservation and desktops

    "One nice aspect of desktops is that they can be run day after day without shutting down; they don't have the heat dissipation problems that still plague laptops "

    My guess is this is either solved or not nearly the problem it once was. I certainly have left my 3+ year old Gateway on for several days downloading via wireless with intermitent use for other things with out a problem. It averaged 6+ hours of use per day.

    I've recently been setting up a "desk top" from and Brawny ITX thin client, I have several that came out of hospital equipment, They average 18-20 watts running, decoding ripped movies and giving flicker free output at 1366x768, the on board video is roughly equivelent to an 8x agp card. Others are doing higher resolution but thats the limit of my new TV/monitor a vizio 22" that runs a little shy of 40 watts. It's a Migrus MB with a VIA C7 chip running at 1500Ghz, http://www.migrus.com/common/products/Migrus/Migrus-C787-15G-D3U.html

    Other than gamers or video editors it's likely plenty of a computer. I've done some photoshop(7 Full version) on it and have been pleased with how well it handled even larger (40MB) files, not a screamer but does the job with just enough of a delay that you wonder if.... and then it's done. (If I was to work all day on photoshop I would use my laptop)

    This even supports Raid 0 and 1, has every port imaginable, the ones I've been getting have 8 USB ports but therey do have propriatory cards to support Lan Giga ports, which I'd like to get for a couple media servers I'm building. It might work for whomever was looking to build a Tive type unit, I don't know if the bios supports wake deal.

    Now if you want a desk top that really is low power!!!

    Look at Fit PC running at 4-6 watts!

    http://www.compulab.co.il/all-products/html/products.htm
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, 660 ah 24v ForkLift battery. Off grid for @16 of last 17 years. Assorted other systems, and to many panels in the closet to not do more...lol
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: energy conservation and desktops
    Photowhit wrote: »
    "One nice aspect of desktops is that they can be run day after day without shutting down; they don't have the heat dissipation problems that still plague laptops "

    My guess is this is either solved or not nearly the problem it once was. I certainly have left my 3+ year old Gateway on for several days downloading via wireless with intermitent use for other things with out a problem. It averaged 6+ hours of use per day.

    I'm sure glad to hear that; the one we just bought is a Gateway. Even so, we were warned about the potential of cooling problems. I suspect the environment it's run in makes a difference too; some people probably manage to block the vents. My little Acer net book gets quite warm on the bottom, but that's another animal.
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,124 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: energy conservation and desktops

    I leave my MAc book on all day, (sleeping when not active). If I am doing intensive (for me) work such as editing pictures or watching video I'll put a USB laptop fan under it, drawing ~2 watts, letting the laptop run much cooler.

    I often leave the machine on the fan even with the fan unplugged just to give it some free air.

    Tony
  • mshen11mshen11 Solar Expert Posts: 185 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: energy conservation and desktops
    RCinFLA wrote: »
    The geometry of the processor matters. 90 nm parts generally draw more then 65 nm which generally draw more then 45 nm parts. 90 nm parts run on 1.6vdc. 65 nm run on 1.3 vdc. 45 nm parts run on 1.1 vdc.

    Also factor is number of processors, their speed, and cache memory size.

    For example, I have a Q6600 quad core 90 nm computer. It draws about 150 watts. I have recently built two mini-towers with E7500 duo core C65 processors. They draw about 60 watts.

    An LCD monitor draws between 40-55 watts depending on size. The backlight is large piece of their consumption.


    holy cow. my 10 year old setup:

    desktop draws about 200 watts (p2); 21" tube another 100watts and 2 external HD clock in at 50 watts. i guess its time to upgrade :P
  • n3qikn3qik Solar Expert Posts: 741 ✭✭
    Re: energy conservation and desktops

    Asus netbook running SBS 2003 24/7 for about 6 months. The netbook has been been upgrade to a Macbook Pro, that also will be running SBS 2003/2008 for the last month. No heat problems at all on either system.

    As to the Atom CPU's, they are good at most types of video if mated with the Nvidia Ion chip set. They just fail at delivering flash video.

    Either way, laptops/desktops have come a long way. Had a P4 3.0 GHZ that could keep my room warm in the winter time.
  • AntronXAntronX Solar Expert Posts: 462 ✭✭
    Re: energy conservation and desktops
    mshen11 wrote: »
    in the name of energy conservation... what is a good watts number for a low power desktop? how about a monitor? what is the average watts? what is the most efficient on the market?

    Good number for desktop available today, in my opinion, is 50W for the tower at idle and 25W for the monitor. Not sure about average, but my last p4 with graphics card and 3 drives pulled 200W at idle. Most efficient desktop on the market got to be Apple's mac mini, idling at 25W or so.

    Edit: according to Apple, new mac mini idles at 14W. If i replaced my 200W Pentium4 machine with it, my investment would pay for itself in 2.63 years from electricity savings, assuming 24x7 operation.
  • blackswan555blackswan555 Solar Expert Posts: 246 ✭✭
    Re: energy conservation and desktops

    My be worth having a chat with Julie (tallgirl) I know she has done a lot of research into the subject and is (I believe) supplying suitable equipment http://www.greenhousepc.com/

    Have a good one
    Tim
  • RandomJoeRandomJoe Solar Expert Posts: 472 ✭✭✭
    Re: energy conservation and desktops

    If you're really looking for most bang for the watt, I'd also suggest the Mac Mini. The price isn't bad, either. It uses an Nvidia chipset, so decent video (though I believe it's a "shared memory" type, not standalone card), has a Core 2 Duo CPU, and can run OS X, Windows or Linux just fine. (Or all three at once, if you want to run them in a VM! ;) ) No expansion slots, but has USB and Firewire. Tiny case and very quiet, which is really nice if it's going to be in the room where you watch TV/movies.

    In the past, the "shared memory" video cards had lackluster performance, but my MBP has a "dual" card - can run a lower-power shared-mem core for power savings, and be switched to a dedicated "real" core for performance. In reality, I usually don't notice the difference. I even play some games (Unreal Tournament) on the low-power core okay. TV with MythTV, movies with MPlayer, DVDs with OSX DVD player are all just fine - and that's while it is driving two displays, laptop 15" @ 1440x900, and 24" LCD @ 1920x1200. (The UT games do switch resolution down some, because they don't go that high - older versions.)

    I do have a couple Atom-based machines. One is a small-form factor "desktop" - idles at 25W, thanks to the lousy chipset that goes along with the processor. On the other hand, an Eee 1000HE netbook pulls all of 10-12W *with* the display on! Video on those is okay - I can play DVDs or MPEG4 encoded movies on the Eee without too much trouble, but not sure it could handle a high resolution display very well.
  • dwhdwh Solar Expert Posts: 1,341 ✭✭✭
    Re: energy conservation and desktops
    My little Acer net book gets quite warm on the bottom, but that's another animal.

    I have a buddy who has one of those, and when it gets hot enough, the USB port next to the heat exhaust vent (left side I think) shuts down.

    I've been sort of mentoring Linux to a guy who has two of the Asus (9" and 10") and they never really get very hot. The 10" also has a 10 hour battery life and larger, quite usable, keyboard. I've been looking for a netbook and I've just about decided on the Asus 10".
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,041 admin
    Re: energy conservation and desktops

    I like the "mat/flat" type screens for general usage... There is a whole lot less glare. Most business computers have the mat finish (LCD panels have to be "better" to look good with mat).

    The "glossy" LCD panels look really nice in a dark room--but if you have light background behind you and/or other sources of light--they become very difficult to see (lower quality LCD displays can be used with glossy screens because the gloss does not "fuzz up" the pixels). Glossy seems to be on most laptops geared toward home use (I purchased nn HP ~10" netbook because of the mat screen).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: energy conservation and desktops
    dwh wrote: »
    I have a buddy who has one of those, and when it gets hot enough, the USB port next to the heat exhaust vent (left side I think) shuts down.

    I've been sort of mentoring Linux to a guy who has two of the Asus (9" and 10") and they never really get very hot. The 10" also has a 10 hour battery life and larger, quite usable, keyboard. I've been looking for a netbook and I've just about decided on the Asus 10".

    I bought my Aspire One because they were being closed out cheap. Replaced with the 160 GB HD models that run XP. So far it has performed very well - but I never expected it to replace a full-size comp. Darn handy way to stay connected without using up precious Watts of stored electricity! :D Batteries are good for about 2 hours, but the power supply draws so little it doesn't matter.

    The Gateway has been worthwhile, but Vista is unfamiliar and a bit too simplistic in its interface for my tastes. Touchpad is touchy too (say that five times very fast). :p
  • tallgirltallgirl Solar Expert Posts: 413 ✭✭
    Re: energy conservation and desktops

    I saw Tim mentioned my name.

    We are making some very low power, high performance boxes.

    The Mac Mini we own for Mac OS X software compatibility testing (see software in signature) draws 24 watts, compared to 32 to 36 watts for our desktops (Linux or Windows, with or without CD/DVD drive), but the Mac Mini just feels like it's wading in molasses compared to our base systems. The Mac has more CPU performance, but feels worse.

    Much of the lackluster performance of low power system is poor disk I/O performance, which we fixed by designing a better disk I/O system -- more throughput, less watts. The faster I/O system makes up for the slower CPU -- in our opinion -- but rules out using the systems for CPU intensive video gaming.

    I have a customer with an Asus Eee and he tells me that our base systems (greenStation) far out perform the Eee. We are looking at a new Asus mobo (we use Intel mobos now), but suspect the missing watts are lost in the power supply -- the 350W "Plus 80" supplies we use (some of the smallest "Plus 80" supplies we can source).
  • vcallawayvcallaway Solar Expert Posts: 157 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: energy conservation and desktops

    I did not see this mentioned, but with laptops you should remove the battery.

    When the battery is fully charged the charging circuits don't shut down. They just generate heat and shorten the life of the battery. It also reduces the load.

    My monster Dell with 17" ultra bright screen uses about 35 Watts with the battery out. In it is almost 60 watts even when fully charged.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: energy conservation and desktops
    vcallaway wrote: »
    I did not see this mentioned, but with laptops you should remove the battery.

    When the battery is fully charged the charging circuits don't shut down. They just generate heat and shorten the life of the battery. It also reduces the load.

    My monster Dell with 17" ultra bright screen uses about 35 Watts with the battery out. In it is almost 60 watts even when fully charged.

    Anyone else had this experience? Our Gateway and Acer do not suffer from this; the current draw goes down once the batteries are charged and there is no heating of the battery afterwards. Methinks there's something wrong with your Dell.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,041 admin
    Re: energy conservation and desktops

    I have a few HP/Compaq and Toshiba Laptops over the years... I find that they charge to 100% then charging shuts off until the battery is drawn down a little bit (or self discharges).

    I have confirmed this with a kill-a-watt meter (which shows less power draw as the battery approaches full status with the icon on the bottom of the screen. If the Icon shows the battery charging--the KAW shows higher AC current draw at that time.

    I have 9+ year old Compaq that the original battery still supplies 10-15 minutes worth of power (good enough for UPS style protection).

    Personally, while I think laptop replacement batteries are way too expensive--I would leave the battery in the computer as it makes a very nice UPS--without the expenses and the losses associated with a "real UPS" (whose batteries seem to only last a year or two anyway).

    The new batteries such as Lithium can have issues of their own... From what I have read, most of the Lithium store best at 50% state of charge... Their life is significantly reduced if stored at 100% capacity--So charging a Li-Ion battery to 100% and removing may not extend its life by any significant amount (also storing near dead can ruin a Li-Ion cell too).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • RCinFLARCinFLA Solar Expert Posts: 1,280 ✭✭✭
    Re: energy conservation and desktops

    Two things reduce Li-Ion battery longevity. Heat and state of charge.

    Full charge all the time actually shortens Li-Ion battery longevity (counter to Lead acid battery). 10-40% SOC is best, but never let them get fully discharged below 2.8v per cell. You can not really manage this with laptop useage and charging.

    If your laptop works on AC power adaptor without battery installed, it would give the battery more longevity if it was not in the laptop when running on AC power pack.

    To store them, discharge to 40% SOC and put them in cool place (refrig).
  • vcallawayvcallaway Solar Expert Posts: 157 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: energy conservation and desktops

    My wifes HP drops by about 5 watts when we pull the battery.

    The older the battery the more it is an issue. As batteries age they get a greater internal resistance. After a while the charging circuit never sees a fully charged battery.

    I have an old compaq laptop that runs my phone system. The heat difference without the battery is significant. The battery only powers the computer for a few minutes before puking.

    My dell is two years old. My boss's wife bought one at the same time and her battery life is down to about an hour. Mine battery still powers my laptop for about 4 hrs. Only difference is I pull mine when it is charged. It really is a good habit to have.
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