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
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:
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:
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)