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World's Gaming PCs to require 50 dedicated power stations by 2020

by Mark Tyson on 1 September 2015, 15:13

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In a new report from Berkeley Lab it is estimated that the world's gaming PCs will be responsible for draining the power from 50 standard 500-megawatt power plants by 2020. That's 50 Rosenfelds, fact fans. However, even now in 2015, it would be possible for the average power consumption of gaming PCs to fall by 75 per cent "by changing some settings and swapping out some components, while also improving reliability and performance," according to the research.

Berkeley Lab scientist Evan Mills co-authored an investigation of the aggregate global energy use of personal computers designed for gaming. His findings have been published in an article called 'Taming the energy use of gaming computers'. Mills looked at the amount of electricity gaming PCs are using now; they account for 2.5 per cent of global PCs but use 20 per cent of the energy used by all PCs. A typical gaming computer uses six times the amount energy of a typical PC in a year or ten times the amount used by a games console.

"When we use a computer to look at our email or tend our Facebook pages, the processor isn't working hard at all. But when you’re gaming, the processor is screaming. Plus, the power draw at that peak load is much higher and the amount of time spent in that mode is much greater than on a standard PC," said Mills. He also compard a Gaming PC's power consumption to that of three refrigerators.

With PC gaming in the ascendancy the 75 TWh of electricity used by gaming PCs globally in 2012 is expected to hit 150 TWh by 2020 unless such PCs can be designed to use less power. To see what could be done to reduce the power used by gaming PCs, without impacting on the all-important performance the researchers built five gaming PCs with varying component selections. It was found that it was possible to "achieve a 50 percent reduction in energy use while performance remained essentially unchanged."

You can see in the chart above, the impact of changes of PSU, GPU, motherboard & CPU and display. Mills concluded that "The huge bottom line here is that gamers don’t have to sacrifice performance to save energy. You can have your cake and eat it too. In fact, the efficient systems run cooler and quieter, both of which are desirable attributes among gamers." To share his findings, and perhaps help gamers save energy and money, Mills has set up a 'greening the beast' website.

HEXUS Forums :: 27 Comments

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I think we'd all welcome less power usage and less heat, provided we still have the performance we like. My graphics card alone uses a lot more power than a current gen games console haha… :/
Replacing your GTX780 with a 970 to save the planet? “Just off to the shops to save the planet dear”, don't think that really flies as an excuse, but am willing to give it a go ;)

But replace your i7 4820K with a Pentium Anniversary Edition? They lost me there.

Edit to add: Non paid for version of the article seems to be linked here https://sites.google.com/site/greeningthebeast/energy
So, replace your PC parts (ie: make them redundant, increase waste, increase landfill) with new parts that require power to create in order to save energy?

Oh, and let's also not forget the cost.

Don't get me wrong, I do think that newer architectures should be more energy efficient, but don't make everyone replace stuff just for the sake of it.

Also, how about investing some of that time and money in clean, renewable energy - let's make generating it more efficient too!
I'd quite happily change my system for a more energy efficient machine, but I do not have the wherewithall to do that. My ‘old’ machine is what I have and that is that. Unless of course the manufacturers are willing to reduce the price of the components (I'm must be having a laugh :p ), I can't see myself doing what has been suggested anytime soon.
In an ideal world we all want to be saving power where ever we can, but we don't or can't, and therefore the power drain will continue :/
I think we'd all welcome less power usage and less heat, provided we still have the performance we like. My graphics card alone uses a lot more power than a current gen games console haha… :/

I had a couple of 6990s a few years back (bought with bitcoins, to mine yet more).
Used to happily idle away at just over 1000W.
Cat used to love sitting by the vents.

Long since been sold off, but still have a hulking 1200W supply feeling underused.