Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Green Computing?

So many websites are going on and on about “Green Computing”. Only today I read an article about how to spec yourself a Green Computer (which I am going to call a GPC from now on to save typing).

Today’s article was about choosing more efficient power supplies, more modern and efficient CPUs and graphics cards. It kind of misses an important point that this only applies to buying totally new kit – it is generally uneconomic to replace your kit with new kit to make energy savings. Besides which you are doing nothing to aid the planet as you’ll be selling that inefficient kit to some other person who will use to create more CO2.

For real GPCs, the key elements to look at (in my opinion are)

PSU – always choose and 80+ rated (energy efficient) PSU but don’t over-spec. So many people buy 600W PSUs because they think they need them. Not many systems do. My two PCs are Core2Duo with two DVD drives, hard disk, graphics card (7600/7900) and 2gb memory and run on 460W and 400W PSUs and that is plenty.

Graphics – do you need a dedicated graphics card? What is the last game you played? I’m actually playing Half Life Source and Red Faction right now – the latter is fine on integrated graphics. Have a look at the power consumption of the graphics card you are considering? I really wish NVidia and AMD/ATI would consider making an energy efficient card (about the power level of a 7600GT which runs most games). Quite frankly I couldn’t give a toss about some SLI behemoth with a fan the size of coffee cup. I want to play normal games at normal resolutions in peace and quiet and without wasting electricity!

CPU – very little beats the Core2Duo for the balance between energy efficiency and power. Undervolting can also reduce power consumption (but my damn IP35 boards from Abit won’t allow it!) and ensuring that EIST and Speedstep (or equivalents) are switched on can help. VIA’s C7 CPUs are efficient but quite frankly slow as hell. If you must go low power then undervolt a C2D or try the Celeron in Intel’s D201GLY2 motherboard. Intel’s forthcoming Silverthorn CPU will be a boost in this area and the newest C2D CPUs (Wolfdale E8200-8400-8500) are much more efficient and lower power consumption than the older C2Ds.

My recommendations to look into (in roughly ascending processor power and power consumption)

Zonbu (as mentioned earlier in this blog)
Intel’s D201GLY2 motherboard in an ITX system
Shuttle’s forthcoming KPC
Any Wolfdale Core2Duo based system with 80+ PSU and integrated graphics.

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