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 Post subject: new low power motherboard
PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 11:11 pm 
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Hello,
I need to buy a new motherboard (AM2/AM2+ etc)
What I want:
To draw very low power
All On board (graphic card, etc)
4 SATA and one/two PCI slot.
The motherboard form must be microATX , miniATX or ATX form

Scope:
A server running linux (file/email/web etc).

My current setup is a motherboard M2V-MX with Athlon 64 3500+ downclock at 1000 MHz and 0.875V. The system is drawing 53W with 4 hard drives (one 2Tb Green, one 250 IDE, one 250 2.5" and one 160Gb2.5").
The motherboard with cpu alone is drawing 44W and the most power hungry is motherboard (the cpu is able to stay full load at 45 celsius without fan and default heatsink). From tests that I made...the motherboard is drawing around 30W.
The scope is to lower the power consumption of the server.
I don't need to much cpu power...the current cpu clock is ok for me.

Any sugestions?


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 Post subject: Re: new low power motherboard
PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 9:49 pm 
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If you don't need much power, you should pick a low-power board. They come with an embedded CPU. Most modern CPUs comes with integrated graphics.
If you can't reduce the number of SATA ports you need, your best bet is probably a Zacate. If you want to use the stock heatsink without any fans, Zotac has one with a decent heatsink fanless. MSI has a supposedly more efficient model with an OK heatsink but it's supposed to run with a fan. But with a case fan blowing in its direction, you might be able to remove the fan. The models I talked about are mITX though. There's at least one larger Zacate board if you must (it's unremarkable at best).


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 Post subject: Re: new low power motherboard
PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 9:53 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: new low power motherboard
PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 10:45 pm 
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Hfat is serious... and represents a valid approach. CA_Steve is pulling someone's middle leg.

In my personal opinion, I think going to an Atom or Zacate CPU is too extreme... as is going 100% fanless.

Get the lowest cost 4 core Sandy Bridge (they all idle at about 4 watts), Idle is where your computer will be almost all the time. Get an Intel h61 motherboard. Motherboards are currently the real watt eaters. Intel's motherboards are all engineered to optimize the reduction in energy usage. The H61 chips are pretty good at minimizing energy usage.

With this setup you will have very low power usage and a good deal of horsepower for those few times when you need it.

This will give you some idea of what kind of system power draw to expect:
http://www.silentpcreview.com/article1148-page5.html
http://www.silentpcreview.com/article1143-page5.html

Basically 20 to 30 watts at idle or at H.264 playback levels of use. Downvolting and underclocking won't help much. The CPU is already drawing very little wattage when it isn't doing any work and it automatically downvolts and underclocks when it is loafing along. If it idles around 4 watts, you just aren't going to get it down much lower. And you have to put a fairly heavy workload on a 4 core Sandy Bridge to get it to work up much of a sweat. Basically unless you are running an artificial benchmark, it's always going to be loafing along.

You will basically be getting the CPU equivalent of a low cost 100 mpg family car, that you can take to the local track and run a 10 second quarter mile should you ever choose to. It is going to cost just a little more than the Atom or Zacate (which is this analogy would be the equivalent of one of those little cramped two person urban smart cars giving you much less car at about the same price... without even getting much better mileage)

You can choose to do the same with the new Ivy Bridge CPU. It should use even less wattage while delivering even more performance... but apparently because of the way it is constructed, it appears that it will likely run hotter (the chip case isn't very good at wicking away the heat from the CPU).

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 Post subject: Re: new low power motherboard
PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 4:10 am 
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Wouldn`t a Sandy Bridge cpu be overkill for this application? I think an atom N2600 or Zacate board would be better suited for the job. The Jetway NF9C - 2600 reviewed here seems to be pretty frugal: http://www.silentpcreview.com/article1247-page4.html

Still, replacing a motherboard to reduce power consumption is neither cost effective or environmentally sound. The amount of power you`ll save will most likely be less than it takes to produce the board. Similarly, the reduced running costs are unlikely to offset the initial investment.

A more valid reason to replace it would be to avoid unscheduled downtime when the existing motherboard eventually fails.

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Last edited by ntavlas on Sat Apr 28, 2012 1:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: new low power motherboard
PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 6:49 am 
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ntavlas wrote:
Wouldn`t a Sandy Bridge cpu be overkill for this application?
I think reasonable people could differ on that.

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 Post subject: Re: new low power motherboard
PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 6:51 am 
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ntavlas wrote:
The amount of power you`ll save will most likely be less than it takes to produce the board. Similarly, the reduced running costs are unlikely to offset the initial investment. A more valid reason to replace it would be to avoid unscheduled downtime when the existing motherboard eventually fails.
Agreed. Another reason is it's time to have a second build around to use and also to have as a backup.

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 Post subject: Re: new low power motherboard
PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 11:41 pm 
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As long as you stick to am2/3 mainboards, most of the power consumption will arise from the build in igp. So i'd support Hfat.

If i were in your shoes, i'd take my calculator and sum up the amount of saved power over hmmm.. 3 years. Might turn out you'll never ever reach a turningpoint, depending on the cost of new hardware and your power bill.

€: On second thoughts, what kind of power supply you're using? Efficiency known?


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 Post subject: Re: new low power motherboard
PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 2:34 am 
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Yes, a lot depends on the details.
And the board shouldn't be considered alone. If the OP isn't already using a pico-type PSU, reducing the number of drives would allow for the use of a board with an integrated power supply for instance.

ntavlas wrote:
Still, replacing a motherboard to reduce power consumption is neither cost effective or environmentally sound. The amount of power you`ll save will most likely be less than it takes to produce the board. Similarly, the reduced running costs are unlikely to offset the initial investment.

In general it may be that more electricity is likely to be used to produce the board than is saved. But some details have been provided and most email servers are on 24/7. The existing board is also pretty wasteful. Considering this, your statement is highly implausible. If producing a low-power board consumed that much electricity, how come they're that cheap?
And you can easily offset the initial investment if your electricity rates are high as they are in many countries.
But you're right about "environmentally sound". The impact of electronics is not limited to electricity. Still, if you have a box running 24/7 on dirty coal (cheap/old plant and/or low-grade fuel), the environmental impact of your electricity consumption is nasty and adds up over time. In that case, replacing a wasteful board doesn't look so bad. One has to take the particulars into account...

Keep in mind it's possible to procure used hardware to replace what you've got. Procuring efficient used hardware isn't easy but it's getting easier.


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 Post subject: Re: new low power motherboard
PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 4:49 am 
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To buy a new expensive hardware it's not a solution.
To spend 150 euro on a motherboard...just to lower the power consumption from 50Euro/year to 40 euro/year...is not so good ideea. More, in my current case, I am able to mount only mATX or bigger motherboard (It's my old desktop casem MASH series from chieftec...)

CA_Steve yes...I know abot the board...but is very hard to get one...and donse't have SATA interfaces (soon I will by 4 more 2Tb hard drives).

The underclock (and this is comming with undervolt)...is getting a quite lower power consumption.

For example, my current CPU:
1GHz, 0.8V The system is drawing 51.1W idle and 55.5W full load
1.4GHz, 0.9V(the lower stable): 54W idle and 62 full load.

Pappnaas after some dig...I found that my bigest problem is the PSU
I have a chieftec gps-400aa-101a 10 years old...and a new no-name PSU is more efficient (without hard drives, the draw power with chieftec is 43.8W, with no-name is 40.3)

I found on xbitlabs site that my PSU (when was new :D) have around 65% efficiency under 60W load. Probably now is under 50%. So, is not the case to change the motherboard and cpu. But instead I need to change the PSU. The problem is that I can't find a efficient psu on lower loads (all PSU are efficient above 20% load...and to be above 20% when I draw 50W...I need 250W PSU).
One solution is to put everything that I have in house to draw power form the PSU (the swich, router etc)
But, before change any other hardware...I need to find 250W efficient PSU.
Any sugestions about this?


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 Post subject: Re: new low power motherboard
PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 3:07 pm 
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bolovan wrote:
To spend 150 euro on a motherboard...just to lower the power consumption from 50Euro/year to 40 euro/year...is not so good ideea.

Especially when 50-100 euros is all you need to spend, CPU included...
You current board is really inefficient for what you're doing with it.

bolovan wrote:
(all PSU are efficient above 20% load...and to be above 20% when I draw 50W...I need 250W PSU).

That's not true. Most PSUs are like that because they're crap. But good PSUs are fairly efficient at low loads.
But only the best ones (too expensive) can match a pico with a good brick. And picos are fairly cheap if you've got such a brick lying around. Reduce the number of drives and you'll be able to use a more modest brick and to waste less power (drives waste power too, you know). Even better: simply use a board which takes DC and you won't even need a pico, just a brick.
If you really want to buy a full PSU in order to be able to continue to use expensive and crappy mATX boards, look at the Superflowers like the 400W Golden Green.


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 Post subject: Re: new low power motherboard
PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 6:38 pm 
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Quote:
In general it may be that more electricity is likely to be used to produce the board than is saved. But some details have been provided and most email servers are on 24/7. The existing board is also pretty wasteful. Considering this, your statement is highly implausible. If producing a low-power board consumed that much electricity, how come they're that cheap?
And you can easily offset the initial investment if your electricity rates are high as they are in many countries.

Like you said it depends on the details. I think you`re overestimating the power use of the motherboard, the M2V-MX is a fairly spartan μatx board plus his server is unlikely to be running at full load 24/7. In either case, his hardware seems old enough to warrant a replacement, especially the power supply.

Quote:
But, before change any other hardware...I need to find 250W efficient PSU.
Any sugestions about this?

It`s hard to find a state of the art 250 watt psu in retail, the closest I can think of is the seasonic SS-350TGM:http://www.silentpcreview.com/article1246-page1.html
Such power supplies are usually in the tfx form factor and they often lack in the number of sata power connectors provided. A more conventional 400-500 watt atx psu will be a more straight forward solution, the best of these should come fairly close in efficiency, for a cost. Kingwin/Superflower, Seasonic and Enermax produce some fairly efficient units in this range.

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 Post subject: Re: new low power motherboard
PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:30 am 
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ntavlas wrote:
I think you`re overestimating the power use of the motherboard, the M2V-MX is a fairly spartan μatx board plus his server is unlikely to be running at full load 24/7.

Whoever talked about full load?
The OP said "The motherboard with cpu alone is drawing 44W". So how much do you figure it's drawing, DC? And how on earth do you get from that figure to having any doubts about whether replacing it would save electricity? How much of the retail cost of low-power boards do you attribute to the electricity expended in their production?
Obviously you'd want to replace the power supply. But this isn't a board you'd want to run 24/7 either. Ideally you'd replace both by getting a board which takes DC.


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 Post subject: Re: new low power motherboard
PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:38 am 
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HFat wrote:
If you really want to buy a full PSU in order to be able to continue to use expensive and crappy mATX boards, look at the Superflowers like the 400W Golden Green.

I'm still using an AM2+ mATX board for media/torrent ...... :mrgreen:

OK, I've got one Superflower 350W Gold which is astonishing in terms of efficiency compared to my other PSUs.
Highly recommend for people who want a budget, low-wattage, efficient Gold PSU.


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