PORTLAND, Ore.—Gamers often brag about how much power it takes to run their maxed-out, multi-monitor, multi-fan-cooled beastly-looking gaming computers. However, a more sober assessment by the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley, Calif.) shows if gamers merely chose more energy efficiency components—without sacrificing performance—they could cut their power consumption by up to 75 percent, saving $18 billion per year by 2020—120 terawatt hours (TWh).
Gaming computers often use 1,400 kilowatt-hours per year—six times more energy than a typical PC and 10 times more than a gaming console—or in more tangible terms, the equivalent of not having to build 40 standard 500-megawatt power plants worldwide by 2020. In fact, gaming represents only 2.5 percent of the global installed base of personal computers (PCs) but accounts for 20 percent of PC energy use, according to Berkeley Lab senior scientist, Evan Mills.
“Gamers, particularly DIY [do-it-yourself] folks who build their own machines from scratch, already can scrutinize name-plate power ratings of products that provide the performance levels to which they aspire, and then choose wisely from among those sets. Measurement is key,” Mills told EE Times. “This matters because it helps gamers not fall into the trap of oversizing their power supply unit [PSU]. Sometimes equipment and operation considerations dovetail together, for example with fan-less PSUs that are becoming available or with intelligent fan controls that only push air when it's needed rather than every minute the machine is running.”
Another key component that Mills says must be scrutinized is the display, opting for ones with built-in correction for visual flaws, such as those labeled G-Synch [a module sold to display makers by Nvidia], which enables the display to use more energy-efficient graphics cards without compromising visual performance.
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