What do I buy for the current most power saving NAS system?
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Author:  djon [ Tue Sep 02, 2008 2:49 am ]
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Well I took the plunge now.

Antec NSK1380 with 350 W Earth Watts PSU


AMD Sempron LE 1250

1x2 GB Kingston 667 MHz ValueRAM, 1.8v

1x WD7500AACS, WD 750 GB Green Line disk.

I skipped RAID in favor of a manual USB backup as I have a lot of large disks lying around and also to save some power.

Will be testing this weekend.

Author:  djon [ Fri Sep 05, 2008 7:04 am ]
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Ok I got it now and have installed XP on it. Could someone help me with RMClock?

I did this so far:


Which resulted in this:


Should I do anything else?

My PC is currently at ~32 w

Author:  djon [ Sat Sep 06, 2008 12:29 am ]
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Is it posible to undervolt RAM or shouldn't I go down that path? What would a reasonable setting be?

Author:  lowpowercomputing [ Sat Sep 06, 2008 2:42 am ]
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I don't know if it is possible to "undervolt" RAM. Maybe you can set your RAM to <1.8V in the BIOS. I doubt this would make a significant difference in power consumption.

As for RMClock, you've so far set the CPU to run at 800MHz and 0.8V in the Performance on demand profile. Keep in mind that if you don't select another (higher) state, it'll stay there regardless of the load. What you could try as well is undervolting even further as RMClock allows you to set less than 0.8V. The savings won't be that much if the system's mostly idle though.

32 watts at idle (I assume) isn't bad for such a setup, I'm getting similar (slightly lower) results on my system but my power-hungry HD spoils them (it uses more than 10 watts). You should be able to save a few watts by undervolting further. Disabling unnecessary components in the BIOS is also worth a try.

Author:  djon [ Sat Sep 06, 2008 10:55 am ]
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After disabling sound and IDE it is now at ~31 w.
The CPU is running at:

800 MHz @ 0,735v

up to

2.1 GHz @ 1,1v

I enabled P-state 0,2,7 and 14.

0,725v made the pc crash.

Am I supposed to enable all of them? What kind of volts should it be at at maximum? 1,3? Do people only reduce max wattages when they have Pico PSU's that may not handle the full power for when it really needs to work?
For fun I tried to play a 720p .mkv file. That didn't go super well. CPU was at 100% and the image was stuttering quite a lot. Good thing it's only a fileserver so far


Author:  hotwater9 [ Sun Sep 21, 2008 10:55 am ]
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djon are you happy with your setup? I might build the same one. Would you change any of your components? The Intel BOXD945GCLF with Intel Atom processor is another option that I am looking at.

Author:  hotwater9 [ Sun Sep 21, 2008 7:25 pm ]
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djon, one other thing. Why did you not go with 800 MHz ram?

Here is what I have in mind for my build:
CPU-AMD Sempron LE-1300 Sparta 2.3GHz
HD-Western Digital Caviar GP WD7500AACS 750GB
Memory-OCZ Gold 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800

Not really sure about the power supply, memory, and case.

Author:  hotwater9 [ Mon Sep 29, 2008 5:51 pm ]
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All of my parts have been ordered.
GIGABYTE GA-MA74GM-S2H (from Newegg)
Sempron LE-1250 (from Buy.com)
HD 750G|WD 16M SATA2 WD7500AACS (from Newegg)
KVR800D2K2/4GR Kingston ValueRAM Memory (from Frys.com)
Antec Mini P180 Black MicroATX Case (from buy.com)
Antec Earthwatt 380W (from buy.com)

Author:  djon [ Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:23 am ]
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Yes I'm very happy with it. I reached my goal of ~30w and it runs like a dream.
I ended up with the RAM I did because I couldn't find any 800 MHz that used 1.8v. At least the didn't specify it and no hardware manufacturer reacted to my mails, so I just got bored with it all and ordered the ones I did. Plus they were cheap :)

Author:  hotwater9 [ Fri Oct 03, 2008 8:26 pm ]
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Great, I am liking my system a lot as well. I got WHS and a home automation program called mControl on it. I am still playing around with the settings. It is running right under 40 watts.

Author:  born2code [ Sat Oct 04, 2008 2:01 pm ]
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Why didn't you go with a pico psu?

Just curious.

Author:  hotwater9 [ Sat Oct 04, 2008 6:10 pm ]
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I just thought the Earthwatt would be a cleaner install. If I went with a smaller case I probably would have gotten the picopsu.

One problem I am having is getting the drivers for the video installed. The adapter has an exclamation by it in windows and I can't get it to go away.

Author:  ACook [ Mon Oct 06, 2008 8:45 am ]
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Good to see that you both get around 40W easily - Is that under load as well?

I just measured my XP1600+ old 24/7 internet machine, it's pulling 135W while just doing it's job, going to 150W while hashing...

That makes it really worth while investing in a new low power system, and it'd be faster with more memory as well...

Author:  hotwater9 [ Wed Oct 15, 2008 3:48 am ]
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Djon, did you get all of the hardware to be recognized and installed? I still have a few items that I can not get to install.
I ran some hotfix for the audio and then installed the GIGABYTE audio driver but that didn't help. Do you have any suggestions?

I got the video card and the SM bus to install by using drivers downloaded from ati.com. Now all I have left are the two audio items.

Author:  AndyHamp [ Thu Oct 16, 2008 4:52 am ]
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djon ... out of interest why did you discount the Atom based systems ? i've been looking at building a <30W based mail/web server and was considering the 330.

Regards ... Andy

Author:  AndyHamp [ Thu Oct 16, 2008 4:52 am ]
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also ...

also you may be interested in this at www.very-pc.co.uk only 16watts at idle !!

Fulwood Media PC Coming Soon

VeryPC Fulwood 75% more efficient than Energy Star requirements

VeryPC announces the launch of a high performance 16Watt dual-cored media centre PC, aptly named Fulwood (after the prestigious suburb of Sheffield). At over four times faster and at almost half the energy consumption Fulwood offers extremely high performance and flexibility while retaining its environmental standing.

Brief specification:
The Fulwood, despite its meagre power draw doesn’t fall short on features, which include an Intel P9500 2.53GHz dual core CPU, 2GB RAM, 250GB HDD, Intel x4500HD graphics, DVDRW, remote control Windows Vista Premium, DVI (with DVI-VGA splitter for dual screens and HDMI adaptor), and surround sound audio (with SPIDIF optical interface Gigabit LAN). All of this is placed into a stylish little box no larger than 165.1 x 165.1 x 50 mm.
Like with all VeryPC machines the Fulwood is fully customisable. Available options include internal WiFi, internal digital/hybrid TV tuner and internal Bluetooth.

VeryPC hopes the Fulwood will become one of the first PCs to be seen on the new European Energy Star List and the Energy Saving Trust’s Recommended List with impressively low power consumption figures of 16Watts idle for the base model, 19Watts idle with all the available upgrade options, and only 2Watts in ‘sleep mode’. These figures are 75% below the threshold of Energy Star 4.0 category B, which requires 65Watts or less at idle in Windows desktop.

Pricing and availability:
The Fulwood will be available to pre-order from the 25th September on a deposit basis, and will be available to purchase online at www.very-pc.co.uk from mid October.
Prices start from £868 (inc. VAT) for the standard model and go up to £1104.5 (inc. VAT). All prices are for the PC only, and exclude monitor, keyboards and mice, and delivery.

Please contact the sales department to order your Fulwood.
T: 0845 617 0081 E: [email protected]


Author:  lowpowercomputing [ Thu Oct 16, 2008 6:39 am ]
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The Atom-based systems have a big disadvantage: They use the old and power-hungry 945GC chipset which spoils the power consumption. Reaching <30W at idle could be difficult with the Atom and 945GC. A Sempron which djon uses combined with an efficient chipset could well consume less power while providing more performance. The Sempron system in my sig consumes less than 30 watts at idle with a 2.5" HD (800 MHz, 0.672 V).
As for the VeryPC, I'll believe those results when I see them proven by a review. I think they can be achieved but still they sound pretty optimistic. Besides, this is a VeryExpensivePC (pun intended). :)

Author:  AndyHamp [ Fri Oct 17, 2008 5:59 am ]
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thanks for the info ....

sounds like Intel have missed a trick ... why put a low power CPU with a high power chip set ... Doh !

i'm more than happy to go the sempron and/or LE Athlon .... but i was concerned about the 45Watt TDP .... then i was concerned about the current draw of the Motherboard ....

Am i being concerned about the wrong things ? is there a particularly good chipset to look at ?


Author:  lowpowercomputing [ Fri Oct 17, 2008 6:17 am ]
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I was very disappointed as well when I got the Atom board as soon as it became available only to find out the power consumption was much higher than I expected. Intel did this to keep this board cheap. There are two interesting boards for the Atom so far: One from MSI which uses the Atom N270 and the mobile 945 chipset (like most netbooks and the Asus Eee Box) -- higher price, less power consumption; and of course, Kontron's Mini-ITX Atom board using the Z500 series and the Poulsbo chipset -- very low power consumption (the CPUs have a max. TDP of ~2W and the chipset comes in at 2.3W), but the board is also very expensive and not available yet.

As far as AMD CPUs go, the 45W ones are your safest bet. Do you want a single or dual core system? Considering you explicitly name Sempron and Athlon LE I'll assume single. Undervolt and/or underclock them and 30W is probably easily doable at idle, power draw at load will be higher of course. As for the motherboard, I suppose you don't need any fancy on-board graphics, so a board with the AMD 690G/740G (latter is a die-shrink of the 690G) or the nVidia 7025/7050 should suffice. I use Abit's AN-M2 which is very low-power, and as I said, I get less than 30 W at idle with a standard PSU.

Author:  QuietOC [ Fri Oct 17, 2008 7:19 am ]
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AndyHamp wrote:
Am i being concerned about the wrong things ? is there a particularly good chipset to look at ?

There are several low power chipsets for AM2 beginning with the first 90nm single chip Geforce 6100/nforce410 going up to AMD's 55nm 780G.

A more imporant factor for very low power is motherboard VRM design (more phases = less efficient at low current draw) and support for <0.8V CPU voltage. The former is actually found on most dirt cheap motherboards, and it will also show up on the spec sheet as a lack of support for the high end (=high TDP) processors.

Author:  AndyHamp [ Fri Oct 17, 2008 7:29 am ]
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Umm ... now you've got me thinking even more ...

An Atom with a low wattage chipset sounds like a winner ...

The machine needs to be able to run WinServer 2003, as it needs to be a a basic email/web/file server. As it's a mail server, i has to be on 24x7. The current machine is an old Celeron 500meg memory 200 gig disk and works just fine but uses about 90 watts idle.

it might just be worthwhile waiting a month or two to see if this or any other MB will satisfy the requirements.


Author:  QuietOC [ Fri Oct 17, 2008 9:07 am ]
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AndyHamp wrote:
Umm ... now you've got me thinking even more ...

An Atom with a low wattage chipset sounds like a winner ...

Why not just get one of the current products with an Atom N270 + 945GSE + ICH7? Those three chips are 11.8 W TDP total and Intel will sell all of them for $85 (in 1,000 unit quantities.) You can buy them retail in any of the netbooks or the ASUS Eee Box.

SPCR wrote:
The Eee Box idled at just 16W. It drew 6W more when running two instances of Prime95 or playing hi def video clips. Power consumption increased to 25W when the IGP was stressed with ATITool while Prime95 was running.

Author:  MiKeLezZ [ Tue Nov 04, 2008 6:38 pm ]
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AndyHamp wrote:
djon ... out of interest why did you discount the Atom based systems ? i've been looking at building a <30W based mail/web server and was considering the 330.

Regards ... Andy
About D45GCLF/2 :
You simply CAN'T build a proper NAS with 2 SATA ports.
Also, the 50W power consumption (mostly thanks to the 22W +4W chipsets) is not really something to be thrilled of.

After some weeks of thinking (I checked VIA/Embedded P-M/939/775), I am going to buy the same setup.

The key component of everything is


It uses a 740G that is a 690G build at 55nm (just like 780G/790G), so nothing can't beat it at the moment.

A downvolted A64 will take care of the rest.


Author:  AndyHamp [ Wed Nov 05, 2008 1:04 am ]
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Please do let us have some power figures as soon as it's up and running.

I've been looking along the same lines, but had been considering the 790 chipset on a board like the Asus M3A78-T (which seems to be more power efficient than the 740g) to build a low power HTPC/gaming box. A single Green Power disk, and a AMD 4850e CPU.

For my home server ... I'm still very much undecided ... the Atom 330 CPU is more than powerful enough and so very, very efficient. but the dumb power hungry chipset lets it down. I'm going to wait a little while to see if anyone builds a board for the atom with a low power chipset, a couple of DIMM slots and hopefully a couple more SATA ports .... i know unrealistic ... :-(


Author:  AndyHamp [ Wed Nov 05, 2008 1:21 am ]
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oh ... and before i forget .... if anyone finds a PSU that works efficiently at these really low wattages .... please, please let me know ...

Author:  crisscross [ Wed Nov 05, 2008 2:25 am ]
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I am going with the same configuration as djon save for the PSU and hard drive. I plan to go with the PicoPSU 120. Just one question it.. for the Pico do i need the 120w power brick or will a 80 watt one suffice? just thinking of the 80 watt to get better efficiency.

Author:  handkerchief [ Sun Nov 16, 2008 11:47 am ]
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I have also been searching for motherboard and cpu combination with low power consumption. For now the best readings at reasonable price that I have found are 20-30W. This is very good compared to normal desktop computer, but from my experience laptops can do much better.

I mesured the power consumtion of my Thinkpad x32 laptop. I don't have any energy meter so I used laptops own internal meter which in my opinion might not be the most accurate, but propably much better than many cheap meters that are sold in local stores.

Undervolted Thinkpad x32:
Idle (screen off) CPU at 600MHz: 6W
Cpu at max (1.7GHz), screen brightness at max and wlan on: 30W

Can someone please explain why there is so great gap in power consumption between desktop and laptop motherboards, or am I just missing something.

Author:  QuietOC [ Mon Nov 17, 2008 7:32 am ]
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handkerchief wrote:
Can someone please explain why there is so great gap in power consumption between desktop and laptop motherboards, or am I just missing something.

Laptops have components designed to be low power instead of high performance.

SPCR just posted power numbers for the ASUS Eee PC 1000H Netbook in the Samsung DVD Burner review, 14W idle. The desktop Eee Box B202 with similar components idles at 16W.

I have to wonder if you removed the battery and use an actual power meter you would find higher numbers for your notebook.

Author:  MiKeLezZ [ Thu May 14, 2009 6:45 am ]
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AndyHamp wrote:

Please do let us have some power figures as soon as it's up and running.
33W without HDDs (only a 4GB CF) and a LE-1250 downvolted to 0,8V (@1,6GHz). PSU is an old SFF 250W Seasonic.

Author:  matt_garman [ Thu Jun 25, 2009 3:16 pm ]
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What do ya'll think about the Biostar A760G motherboard? It appears to have the low-power CPU-friendly 3-phase power (further supported by the newegg reviews which suggest it doesn't support the high-wattage processors).

I can't find any info on whether or not it supports CPU undervolting. (I had a nvidia 7025 based Biostar not too long ago that did not support undervolting, for what that's worth.)

I don't know if this board can break the sub 30 W barrier though.

Another possibility: Asrock N68-S. Has the nvidia 7025 single chip solution, and I'm guessing three-phase CPU power. Only four SATA ports though (the Biostar above has six). Whether or not CPU undervolting is allowed is also unknown.

Any thoughts? I'm guessing that, at most, these boards would probably only save at most five watts compared to the now semi-famous GA-MA74GM-S2.

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