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post #1 of 118 Old 02-13-2013, 08:32 AM - Thread Starter
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So I have been upgrading my system over time now and have gone from an old Core2Duo setup to a reasonably high-end gaming PC (i5 2500K, 8GB RAM, GTX570) with a lot of internal storage spread out over a number of drives. The motherboard I have refuses to wake from sleep properly, so it is often left in the idle state for long periods of time. Recently I have also been having problems with the system shutting down/hibernating, and then immediately waking back up and staying on overnight. (I think I am just going to disable WOL to see if that fixes it)

Anyway, I have just received a surprisingly large energy bill for the last quarter, and am wanting to take steps to reduce it as much as possible. I know that it's probably more cost-effective to stick with what I have got and just pay the bills than buy new hardware, but I split the bill, and I am getting blamed for it. The reality is that my power consumption is probably about 1/4 - 1/3 of the bill at most, but they see a big PC tower and LED screen, and assume it must be me.

And it certainly seems like having an all-purpose PC that can handle high-end gaming and HTPC use, is very inefficient. I've just measured it, and when idle, after letting the hard drives spin down, it's pulling about 80W, measured at the meter rather than the wall as that is apparently inaccurate with PCs. Normally I would not allow the drives to spin down, as it minimizes wear, and I find it makes the PC feel so much slower waiting for them to spin up when trying to access data, especially when the main OS & Programs are running off an SSD. But that saves about 10W.


So I am wondering where to go from here. I have been thinking about upgrading my system for a while now anyway, but it looks like there are barely any savings to be had from upgrading the CPU, whether at idle or under load:
447666mjh9.png44767rsk13.png

And while upgrading the graphics from a 570 to a 670 might reduce energy consumption by up to 100W under load, video does not put that much of a load on the system, and the savings at idle are only 12W, which is not worth the expense:
46456fjk8u.png46459kikop.png


So I am thinking that the best solution might be to leave my current system for gaming and upgrade it when Haswell and the Nvidia 700 series come out, because those will hopefully bring larger power savings that warrant the cost of upgrading, and then buying either a Mac Mini, or an Intel NUC for general desktop use and video playback. I'm not sure if they are quite powerful enough for me though, as I run madVR with Jinc 3 AR scaling and am not willing to compromise on that. The Intel NUC seems to idle around 6W, and the Mac Mini around 13W, which would be considerable savings - and they would be even better if I can hold off until they get Haswell updates. Unfortunately neither of these devices have optical drive options, so I will still need to use the tower for ripping media. (too bad the Mac Minis don't have a DVD drive any more - that would have been perfect)

But that leaves me with a question about storage. Right now I have about 12TB in my tower with all my media on it, and have been wanting to add more. Neither the NUC nor the Mac Mini have decent storage options, so I'm probably going to have to look at networked storage of some kind - how efficient is that these days? There's no point in buying a 13W system if a high powered network share is going to be draining 30 or 40W constantly. And what is performance like these days? I have gigabit ethernet wired through the house, so would I be able to get performance comparable to having the drives hooked up via SATA? My previous experiences with NAS devices (QNAP) have not been great.


Are there any other options for reducing power consumption that I may have overlooked?

It kind of rubs me the wrong way that I would have to own multiple computers if I care about power consumption, because it just seems so wasteful, and there are always other hassles like sharing data between them, sorting out HDMI & USB sharing etc. (made even more complex by the fact that I have USB & HDMI wired through the walls and the tower is in another room)

Those are many of the reasons I got rid of a laptop and replaced it with an iPad, rather than having a desktop & laptop. (the tablet form factor is more flexible for actual portable use, and it offers a different experience from a computer)
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post #2 of 118 Old 02-13-2013, 08:44 AM
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The answer to your problem is really quite simple. You need to get sleep or hibernate to work correctly.
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post #3 of 118 Old 02-13-2013, 09:03 AM
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Have you calculated your energy costs for the PC? You say it's 80W @ idle so lets assume 100W average. Running 24/7 would be 2.4KWh per day or 72KWh per month. If your utility charges are $.09/kwh (which would be about 50% higher than mine), you are loooking at 22 cents per day or less than $7 per month to run it without sleeping.


Even if you cut the power consumption by half, you would save only $3.50 per month. How long would it take you to recoup the upgrade costs like that?

Here's a simple calculator to see how much a device costs you in power: http://www.citytrf.net/costs_calculator.htm
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post #4 of 118 Old 02-13-2013, 10:12 AM - Thread Starter
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Hmm, that really puts it in perspective. I expected that it wouldn't be a worthwhile expense, but not that bad. Looks like I will just continue to upgrade my PC over time as I have been doing (I intended on upgrading to Haswell and the Nvidia 700 series anyway) and just benefit from those efficiency improvements over time.
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post #5 of 118 Old 02-13-2013, 11:53 AM
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Get a Kill-a-watt and go around the house and find the culprit.
Was that bill based on a meter read or an estimate? If a real read, was the prior month an estimate?

As an aside, Trinity will handle madVR and will idle for less than that dedicated gaming rig. Your rig will naturally crush it in gaming.


Also, FWIW, the current class of AMD gpus drop even more power when the display is off.
http://techreport.com/review/23981/radeon-hd-7950-vs-geforce-gtx-660-ti-revisited/10
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post #6 of 118 Old 02-13-2013, 12:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruiner View Post

Get a Kill-a-watt and go around the house and find the culprit.
Was that bill based on a meter read or an estimate? If a real read, was the prior month an estimate?
I agree. Estimated bills could be the problem. If not, a Kill-A-Watt would be a wise investment, if for nothing else than to show your room mates the exact energy cost of your PC.

Out of curiosity, what is your KWh rate and (if you feel like sharing) how much was the "surprisingly large energy bill"?
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post #7 of 118 Old 02-13-2013, 12:52 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruiner View Post

Get a Kill-a-watt and go around the house and find the culprit.
Yep that's what I've been doing.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruiner View Post

Also, FWIW, the current class of AMD gpus drop even more power when the display is off.
That's true, but real-world gaming performance (not benchmarks) driver compatibility, and driver features is very on AMD in my experience. My display is never actually off anyway - it's more energy efficient to put up the "blank screen" screensaver because I have a full local dimming LED TV, and having it turn off the backlight saves more power. When the graphics card turns the display off, it actually cranks up the backlight on the "no input" screen. Also has the benefit of not disconnecting HDMI audio too.
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post #8 of 118 Old 02-14-2013, 04:57 AM
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Turn off video card when not using ?

Hibernate or sleep mode?

Dat dere kill a watt. Get one

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"Too much is almost enough. Anything in life worth doing is worth overdoing. Moderation is for cowards."
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post #9 of 118 Old 02-14-2013, 12:56 PM
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I agree that getting sleep to work is the best solution. FWIW, whenever I've had a PC with sleep issues, the root cause was almost always my video card. A different brand/model of card would fix the problem.

I have my HTPC set to sleep after 3 minutes of no activity and my TV set to power off after 5 minutes of no input. My HTPC will wake on LAN (extenders and iOS remote apps), wireless keyboard or remote, or for scheduled recordings of course. My HTPC consumes 40-60W fully loaded and less than 5W in standby. It probably runs 4-6 hrs per day on average which works out to about 14 kWhr/month or $1.50/month. Your average cable/satellite DVR consumes at least 60W 24x7.
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post #10 of 118 Old 02-14-2013, 01:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vladd View Post

Have you calculated your energy costs for the PC? You say it's 80W @ idle so lets assume 100W average. Running 24/7 would be 2.4KWh per day or 72KWh per month. If your utility charges are $.09/kwh (which would be about 50% higher than mine), you are loooking at 22 cents per day or less than $7 per month to run it without sleeping.


Even if you cut the power consumption by half, you would save only $3.50 per month. How long would it take you to recoup the upgrade costs like that?

Here's a simple calculator to see how much a device costs you in power: http://www.citytrf.net/costs_calculator.htm

This of course depends on what your local rates are and how much total electricity you use. If you are in PG&E terriitory and you hit the top tier rate you are paying $.34025/kwh to run your PC.
PG&E Rates. This would turn the $7/month estimate into something more like $25/month.

For example I had an old Core2Duo+nVidia system that consumed well over 100w at idle and about 250w during playback. When I converted that to a Core i3 system (new mb/cpu/ram) it paid for itself in about a year of power savings.
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post #11 of 118 Old 02-14-2013, 01:44 PM
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Which is why I asked if he had calculated it himself. I have no idea what rates people pay in other parts of the country.
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post #12 of 118 Old 02-15-2013, 04:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vladd View Post

Which is why I asked if he had calculated it himself. I have no idea what rates people pay in other parts of the country.

It's really all over place.

Yesterday it was 16 cents kwh here. Normally it's half that.

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post #13 of 118 Old 02-15-2013, 06:34 AM
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There are new versions of netbook style processors coming soon from AMD and intel, both of which should finally be able to handle HD flash and silverlight. The new atom is going to have a quad core version and have graphics based on ivy bridge, should be more than capable and very low power. The only other way to go is get a prebuilt system based on laptop hardware, like intel's NUC. Like you mentioned to get a really low power HTPC it wont be capable of gaming, why not use your current system as a gaming desktop and have a separate HTPC?
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post #14 of 118 Old 02-15-2013, 06:48 AM
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Mfusick, are you on time of use billing now?

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post #15 of 118 Old 02-15-2013, 06:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruiner View Post

Get a Kill-a-watt and go around the house and find the culprit.
Was that bill based on a meter read or an estimate? If a real read, was the prior month an estimate?

As an aside, Trinity will handle madVR and will idle for less than that dedicated gaming rig. Your rig will naturally crush it in gaming.


Also, FWIW, the current class of AMD gpus drop even more power when the display is off.
http://techreport.com/review/23981/radeon-hd-7950-vs-geforce-gtx-660-ti-revisited/10

Yup, probably the two cheapest ways to save money on energy is compact florescents and warmer bedding that allows you to turn the heat down when you go to bed. Don't replace big appliances early but when you do really check the efficiency level on the different models. My samsung refrigerator uses about two thirds the energy of competing models and a fridge is one of the major consumers on your bill.

I just got a new 60" LCD TV that consumes 85W my old 47" consumed 350W, that's pretty huge.
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post #16 of 118 Old 02-15-2013, 07:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffkro View Post

There are new versions of netbook style processors coming soon from AMD and intel, both of which should finally be able to handle HD flash and silverlight. The new atom is going to have a quad core version and have graphics based on ivy bridge, should be more than capable and very low power. The only other way to go is get a prebuilt system based on laptop hardware, like intel's NUC. Like you mentioned to get a really low power HTPC it wont be capable of gaming, why not use your current system as a gaming desktop and have a separate HTPC?

Of course Haswell is moving more towards a system on a chip design and might have pretty significant idle power saving over ivybridge, just have to wait and see. Even an athlon II only consumed 5W at idle, the primary culprit was all the other chips on the mobo.
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post #17 of 118 Old 02-20-2013, 01:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronoptimist View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruiner View Post

Get a Kill-a-watt and go around the house and find the culprit.
Yep that's what I've been doing.
OK. It's been a week, what did you find?
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post #18 of 118 Old 02-21-2013, 07:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffkro View Post

Yup, probably the two cheapest ways to save money on energy is compact florescents and warmer bedding that allows you to turn the heat down when you go to bed. Don't replace big appliances early but when you do really check the efficiency level on the different models. My samsung refrigerator uses about two thirds the energy of competing models and a fridge is one of the major consumers on your bill.

I just got a new 60" LCD TV that consumes 85W my old 47" consumed 350W, that's pretty huge.

Compact flourescent bulbs really don't save much money in my opinion. They burn out much faster than their specs indicate they should. The additional cost of the bulbs means no overall money saved. Also, if I replace a 60W bulb, I replace it with a 100W equivalent CF bulb, as that's about what the CFs really produce in terms of light. We're selling our house and our realtor recommended we replace CFs with incandescents. To be honest, I'm not sure I can go back to using CFs after using incandescents again. The CFs produce a horrible light to my eyes. They have a delay that's really obnoxious. Since we keep our house cool at night, the CFs produce a feeble amount of light until they heat up.

The best thing for me to do is to convince the family to turn off lights that aren't in use. That alone would save much more than using CFs.

The most energy efficient thing I've done to this house is replace the oil furnace with a much more efficient oil furnace. That's saved 2-300 gallons of oil per year. I've also added 8 inches of insulation in the attic and sealed as much as I could in the attic. These fixes have saved way more energy overall than replacing lights.

Bob
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post #19 of 118 Old 02-21-2013, 07:23 AM
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I don't use CFLs for pretty much the same reasons. I was replacing them almost monthly (although I did find that they now have "Instant ON" CFLs that don't take time to get brighter). Instead of CFL, I recommend LED lights which put out a lot more light IMO. I purchased some at Lowes that were about the same price as CFLs and they are supposed to last longer (we'll see...). Since replacing the incandecants (about 1400W worth) in my house with the 7.5W LEDs (about 160W worth), my energy consumption dropped by about 30% for the month from 1600 KWh to just about 1000 KWh. Total cost of the bulbs were less than a new HTPC that would have only netted me about 100-150 KWh savings.

Unfortunately, the month that I replaced the bulbs, my energy rates increased so I ended up saving less than 10% on my energy bill from the previous month. Of course it would have been much higher had I not replaced them.
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post #20 of 118 Old 02-21-2013, 07:37 AM
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I don't know what horrible CFL's you guys are buying but mine are all instant on daylight bulbs and I consider them to be brighter than there corresponding incandescent bulbs. They also last considerably longer than incandescent's. I haven't had one die in the year since I installed them.

More insulation in the attic is definitely the next thing to do after CFL/LED's though.

If you have recessed lighting don't put a normal CFL in there, it will burn out quick.
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post #21 of 118 Old 02-21-2013, 07:39 AM
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Around here, I can get the LEDs cheaper than the Instant On daylight CFLs and they use less power and last longer. CFLs were not used in my recessed lighting but I am now using LEDs in them and they are working out quite well so far.
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post #22 of 118 Old 02-21-2013, 07:49 AM
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Quote:
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Around here, I can get the LEDs cheaper than the Instant On daylight CFLs and they use less power and last longer. CFLs were not used in my recessed lighting but I am now using LEDs in them and they are working out quite well so far.

They are a better buy for you then. I bought my bulbs for under 2 dollars a piece vs 15 plus for a LED.
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post #23 of 118 Old 02-21-2013, 07:58 AM
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$2.00 ??? Local or do you have a link?
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post #24 of 118 Old 02-21-2013, 07:59 AM
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Which LEDs are people buying that are cheaper than CFLs?

I bought a couple of the highly rated Philips 60W equivalent LEDs (800 lumens) and the cheapest I saw was $15 at Home Depot. That is quite a bit more than CFLs which I frequently see selling for $1 each.

Any recommended sources would be greatly appreciated.
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post #25 of 118 Old 02-21-2013, 08:06 AM
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Which LEDs are people buying that are cheaper than CFLs?

I bought a couple of the highly rated Philips 60W equivalent LEDs (800 lumens) and the cheapest I saw was $15 at Home Depot. That is quite a bit more than CFLs which I frequently see selling for $1 each.

Any recommended sources would be greatly appreciated.
I'm using the Utilitech A19 @ $9.98 in my area: http://www.lowes.com/pd_338802-75774-LA19DM/LED_0__?productId=3341246&Ntt=utilitech+led+a19&pl=1&currentURL=%3FNtt%3Dutilitech%2Bled%2Ba19&facetInfo=

Claims to be a 40W equivalent but the light produced is brighter than the 60W equivalent CFLs I've tried. 60W instant on daylight CFLs are $12-15 (or higher) when I can find them.

It also comes with a 2yr warranty and you can return it to the store for a replacement if it fails in that time.
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post #26 of 118 Old 02-21-2013, 08:57 AM
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$2.00 ??? Local or do you have a link?

Local deal. Sale in fact. Bought a bunch.

http://www.amazon.com/GE-13-Watt-Energy-SmartTM-replacement/dp/B000NISDNU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1361464942&sr=8-1&keywords=cfl

I used these for some of the rooms that I don't care about and they start up extremely quick(instant to my eyes). I don't care for the yellow light but other than that they are good bulbs.

http://www.amazon.com/Full-Spectrum-Light-Bulb-Daylight/dp/B00198U6U6/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1361464942&sr=8-5&keywords=cfl

If you really want to light up a room. 45w CFL. Big bulbs. 2800 lumens.
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post #27 of 118 Old 02-21-2013, 09:54 AM
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Local deal. Sale in fact. Bought a bunch.

http://www.amazon.com/GE-13-Watt-Energy-SmartTM-replacement/dp/B000NISDNU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1361464942&sr=8-1&keywords=cfl

I used these for some of the rooms that I don't care about and they start up extremely quick(instant to my eyes). I don't care for the yellow light but other than that they are good bulbs.
Those are 35 sec warm ups which neither me or my wife like unfortunately. I forgot to mention that our other requirement is that they need to be dimmable which pretty much eliminates all the "cheap" CFLs. Only our bathroom lights are not on dimmers and I am using Instant On CFLs in them.
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post #28 of 118 Old 02-21-2013, 10:19 AM
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Use this to get your sleep working right - make sure you have BIOS set to S3 only.
http://slicksolutions.eu/mst.shtml

I get all my screw-in LEDs from Pharox. Sign up for their mail list and you'll get specials occasionally. Typical spend is $5 each.
http://www.mypharox.com/

For my halogen to LED replacements, I've been trying several different brands from Amazon. I haven't found a perfect replacement for my GU-10s yet, but this one gets pretty close. Thing is, I had one fail recently so I'm a bit nervous about recommending them. Neon Mart did step up and immediately refund my money when I asked about a replacement.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00791L92G/ref=oh_details_o06_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
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post #29 of 118 Old 02-21-2013, 10:39 AM
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I get all my screw-in LEDs from Pharox. Sign up for their mail list and you'll get specials occasionally. Typical spend is $5 each.
http://www.mypharox.com/
All products are showing out of stock and their 40W equiv dimmables are $22.95 and $32.95 eek.gif as opposed to the $9.98 I spent.
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post #30 of 118 Old 02-21-2013, 10:55 AM
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Like I said, sign up and wait for specials. I don't buy the dimmables, although I've seen them on sale really cheap as well.
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