Gaming PCs too power-hungry, researcher warns

September 4, 2015 | 09:43

Tags: #berkeley #cpu #energy-efficiency #environment #gaming-pc #gpu

Companies: #berkeley-lab

A study into energy use by gaming computers has come to the conclusion, unsurprising for anyone who owns one, that they're energy-hungry beasts, with one author calling for urgent improvements in energy efficiency.

For gamers, the news that their systems - typically equipped with a power supply capable of delivering between 800W and 1.5KW, necessary for the power-hungry GPUs and CPUs required for the best high-resolution gaming experience - drink energy faster than the average PC won't come as a surprise. What may, however, is the conclusion in an Energy Efficiency study publicised by Berkeley Lab this week: gaming systems account for just 2.5 per cent of personal computers in use globally, but account for 20 per cent of the energy used by all PCs.

'Based on actual measurements of five gaming PCs with progressively more efficient component configurations, we estimate the typical gaming computer (including display) to use approximately 1400 kWh/year, the study's authors, father-and-son team Evan and Nathaniel Mills, conclude, 'which is equivalent to the energy use of ten game consoles, six standard PCs, or three refrigerators.

'It’s remarkable that there’s such a huge overlooked source of energy use right under our noses,' claimed Evan Mills of his study. 'The energy community has been looking at ordinary personal computers and consoles for a long time, but this variant, the gaming computer, is a very different animal. 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.'

The pair have claimed, however, that there are gains to be had even with existing off-the-shelf components. The five systems tested for the study each had progressively more energy-efficient components, and details have been published to a dedicated site dubbed Greening the Beast which claims to be dedicated to 'helping the gaming community green up its act, while improving performance, trimming temps, and saving a few bucks.'
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