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 Post subject: need help with project
PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 7:24 am 
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Hi all,

First of all I'd like to say that I thoroughly enjoy this website and its forums. A whole new world has opened up for me. Great stuff.

Because two know more than one I'd like to ask your thoughts on a project I'm planning. It's quite a simple plan. I want to start a website where people can buy low-energy desktops for the lowest price possible. PCs nowadays are way too powerful for most people, and thus waste a lot of energy. The problem is that people simply don't have a lot of choice (assuming for now that people want to choose) when buying a PC. If you don't have enough knowledge to build your own desktop you're almost condemned to buy a computer with too large specs. In the Netherlands (where I live) you can't find a (web)shop that offers low-energy computers anywhere. All they offer is ultrafast processors, 2048 MB RAM and 320 GB HDDs. I find this amazing and bothersome and that's why I've decided to try and fill the 'gap'. It doesn't have to be a success and I don't expect it to be. I won't be making much of a profit anyway. I just want to offer an alternative. People can keep buying their Pentium IV Dells afterwards and only send emails with them for all I care.

I'm able and capable to work out most aspects of the project. I got friends who can build me a website. I'm not planning to buy components and build the desktops myself because that would require investments and time I don't have. You have these webshops where you can compose your own PC and then they build and test it for you. I would want to become some sort of 'reseller' for a webshop, so they can build the PC and send it to the client who ordered it at my website. As soon as the website is launched I'm going to invest a lot of time in getting my initiative known through websites and magazines that are into environmental issues. I expect the group of people who are seriously into cutting down their energy consumption is going to grow, especially when energy prices can't be kept low artificially.

Now, the only trouble I have is with composing the ideal desktop. I want to find a balance between the following criteria: 1) The PC has to use up the least possible amount of energy. Desktop + monitor must not exceed 50 Watt (at idle) 2) The PC has to meet current standards for the average user, and be ready for the coming 4-5 years (Vista) 3) The components have to be as upgradable as possible 4) The PC has to be as cheap as possible to be able to compete.

I built my own desktop a year ago and I've done as much research as I can, me being a layman. I know which processors don't use a lot of Watts (the 35 W Semprons are relatively cheap). I guess the AM2-platform meets demand 3) the best, and so I'm opting for a micro-ATX motherborad by Asus. I've read about the 80plus-program, although these PSU's aren't for sale in the Netherlands (or only retail). The HDD will be a notebookdrive. 512 Mb RAM should be sufficient for the foreseeable future. I definitely get somewhere on my own.

However, it would be nice if someone could help me out periodically with choosing the best parts for the desktop I envision. And that's where some of you guys could come in. Some expert from the Netherlands who is willing to share a bit of his knowledge and ideas would be over the moon of course.

Any advice is welcome, on the ideal, cheap, low-energy desktop as well as on the project itself.

Many thanks,

Palindroman


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 9:18 am 
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Your goals are at odds with each other, I can't think of a single system that meets all the requirements.

1) The lowest consumption computers are low-end laptops, but you don't want to sell laptops. Using desktop components makes your goal nearly impossible to achieve. With a separate LCD monitor, chances are that 35W of your 50W budget will be taken up just by the monitor. That leaves you with a 15~20W budget for the whole computer. The only desktop that meets that requirement (that I know of anyway) is a board that uses VIA's C7 processor and the related chipsets, but that will fail requirement number 2) for many people. On the other hand, you could try selling iMacs, which do idle under 50W, including monitor, but they fail requirement 3) because it's not upgradable.

If you must have a desktop, you'll have to imitate VIA and Apple's approach: Build it using mobile parts: Processor and chipset should be mobile at the very least, and you'll want to use a PicoPSU for the power supply (with the right power brick, it's more efficient at low loads than any 80 Plus PSU we've seen). The only trouble is, as far as I know, there are very few "mobile" chipsets to be found on desktop motherboards. The only ones I can think of are from AOpen's MoDT line, and these are hard to source and very expensive. And, even this conflicts with 3), since these parts are not terribly easy to upgrade due to the difficulty of sourcing parts for mobile upgrades.

2) I suspect that your measure of futureproofing will be HD capability. If you can find a chipset that does HD decoding onboard (VIA claims to have one, but I hear it doesn't work), that might be the most efficient way of going about it, but otherwise you'll have to be very careful what processor you choose. I've had better luck with Intel processors — Intel's mobile Core Duo parts might fit the bill here. Not sure if there's a mobile equivalent for Core 2 Duo yet... If your users don't require HD decoding, just throw in the cheapest/coolest processor you can find — basic users don't need any more power, and I doubt that will change in the next 5 years. Not sure how well that will work with Vista though ... some flavour of Linux might make for a better user experience on low-end hardware. Vista is a beast and will eat RAM.

3) Already touched on this, but I suspect that the esoteric parts that are required to push power consumption down will make it very difficult to achieve easy upgradability. Oh, and you can forget about builiding 50W gaming machines ... the most efficient exteral graphics cards add ~15W at idle ... and they're the least powerful. You can budget a 25~30W increase at idle for the kind of graphics card that will appeal to gamers.

4) Here again, your choices are iMac or one of VIA's offerings. Both of these have difficulties that I've already mentioned. Building the systems yourself is almost certainly going to cost you, as the most efficient parts are expensive and hard to find.

I think if you really want to do something for Green Computing, you should be looking at ways to repurpose existing "obsolete" hardware. Building very power efficient, but new, computers for your clients may save 30W or so at idle, but that's not a huge savings in the long run... The environment will be hurt more by the old system that is thrown out before its time in favour of a "more efficient" model.

Since basic office tasks and media playback requirements are met by just about any P-III or better, it might be best to find ways of making these systems usable in a modern environment. To a large extent, I think this just involves educating people about the software that they're using ... i.e. avoid slow bloated software that gets dumped into the Windows startup and hangs around whenever the computer is running. Avoid Norton AV or other bloated security apps, and tell people how to avoid catching virii or malware.

Use Win XP Lite or a lightweight form of Linux to make the computer "feel" faster while running on the same hardware. Things like that.

I'm sure there's a business opportunity in there somewhere, but it's much more involved than brokering "efficient" computers. Green computing is as much about awareness as it is about choosing the right parts, so you'll need to sell some "education" along with whatever it is that you're buying. I think you understand this — you want to create a resource where users can educate themselves on which computers are efficient. I just think you need to go deeper than that if you really want to take a good look at the issues involved.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 11:00 am 
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Thanks a lot for your quick answer, Devonovar. This is exactly what I was hoping for.

Look, I know my idea sounds naive or plain stupid, but maybe that's due to its simplicity. I don't fool myself in thinking that my project is going to save the world and I don't want to start a business. All I want is this: When people search for 'low-energy computer' (in Dutch) on Google I want them to see a place where they can actually buy one in the first ten hits, instead of some pdf-files of how HP and Dell plan to start selling minimalspec computers in 2015. I know it's not as simple as I project it all (the world is far from perfect), but it's a challenge to see how far I can get.

Now, let me go into your answer point by point:

Devonavar wrote:
Your goals are at odds with each other, I can't think of a single system that meets all the requirements.

1) The lowest consumption computers are low-end laptops, but you don't want to sell laptops. Using desktop components makes your goal nearly impossible to achieve. With a separate LCD monitor, chances are that 35W of your 50W budget will be taken up just by the monitor. That leaves you with a 15~20W budget for the whole computer. The only desktop that meets that requirement (that I know of anyway) is a board that uses VIA's C7 processor and the related chipsets, but that will fail requirement number 2) for many people. On the other hand, you could try selling iMacs, which do idle under 50W, including monitor, but they fail requirement 3) because it's not upgradable.


Okay, let's make it 60 watts then. :wink:

Naturally, I'll look for the monitor that uses the least power. This is quite hard I can tell you, as manufacturers don't give exact power specs on their websites. My Neovo F-417 for instance is said to use <54 W. I've measured it and it's 24 W. I'm sure there are monitors that use even less. So that would leave 25-30W. I know a Sempron 1800+ for instance has a TDP of 35 W. I don't know how much it uses at idle, but that will probably be less. A HDD uses about 2.5 W. Etc. The biggest problem is posed by the PSU in my opinion (but we'll get to that).

So, am I reaching too high when I say that I want to assemble a simple desktop that uses 50-60 Watts? I know an average Dell uses up about 100-150 W (the Optiplex GX620 at my job uses 92 Watts at idle, and I think that office computers are designed to use less). There's a difference of 50 W at least which isn't much by itself, but multiply that by 1000 and you're already talking about 1.8 Megawatt on a yearly basis. That's the whole idea, isn't it?

Quote:
If you must have a desktop, you'll have to imitate VIA and Apple's approach: Build it using mobile parts: Processor and chipset should be mobile at the very least, and you'll want to use a PicoPSU for the power supply (with the right power brick, it's more efficient at low loads than any 80 Plus PSU we've seen). The only trouble is, as far as I know, there are very few "mobile" chipsets to be found on desktop motherboards. The only ones I can think of are from AOpen's MoDT line, and these are hard to source and very expensive. And, even this conflicts with 3), since these parts are not terribly easy to upgrade due to the difficulty of sourcing parts for mobile upgrades.


I totally agree with you. That's why VIA processors, Pentium M and Turions are not an option. They're good for building small servers or media centers. I want to imitate regular desktops, but with minimal specs. So people have the opportunity to buy exactly what they need. How many people do you know that bought a Dell because it's cheap and because they got their RAM doubled and a free printer along with it? People that only use Word and Outlook. I hate that.

Please share more of your thoughts on the PSU because that's the hardest nut to crack up till now. PicoPSU and things like PW 200 are very interesting because of their efficiency. Most of all I'd like a micro-ATX case with a built-in PSU, such as Aopen's H360. I'm really at a loss when it comes to PSU's. The really efficient ones aren't for sale in the Netherlands or too expensive.

Quote:
2) I suspect that your measure of futureproofing will be HD capability. If you can find a chipset that does HD decoding onboard (VIA claims to have one, but I hear it doesn't work), that might be the most efficient way of going about it, but otherwise you'll have to be very careful what processor you choose. I've had better luck with Intel processors — Intel's mobile Core Duo parts might fit the bill here. Not sure if there's a mobile equivalent for Core 2 Duo yet... If your users don't require HD decoding, just throw in the cheapest/coolest processor you can find — basic users don't need any more power, and I doubt that will change in the next 5 years. Not sure how well that will work with Vista though ... some flavour of Linux might make for a better user experience on low-end hardware. Vista is a beast and will eat RAM.


Thanks for the advice.

Quote:
3) Already touched on this, but I suspect that the esoteric parts that are required to push power consumption down will make it very difficult to achieve easy upgradability. Oh, and you can forget about builiding 50W gaming machines ... the most efficient exteral graphics cards add ~15W at idle ... and they're the least powerful. You can budget a 25~30W increase at idle for the kind of graphics card that will appeal to gamers.


Gamers and the environment? :lol:

Building a low-energy computer for gamers is a contradictio in terminis. I'm naive, but not a 13 year old girl from a Missouri farm. Gamers are mostly young lads who shouldn't worry too much and have fun. They can make up for it later by creating a better world for their children.

On-topic: The Semprons I mentioned come in AM2. This socket is one of the most modern, so it should be around for a while (unless the bastards switch to AM3). I was thinking to start with that so people could change to energy-efficient dual cores (like the 3800+ EE SSF) once they got cheaper. If need be, of course.

Quote:
4) Here again, your choices are iMac or one of VIA's offerings. Both of these have difficulties that I've already mentioned. Building the systems yourself is almost certainly going to cost you, as the most efficient parts are expensive and hard to find.


I won't build them myself. The webshop I have a deal with will do that for me.

Quote:
I think if you really want to do something for Green Computing, you should be looking at ways to repurpose existing "obsolete" hardware. Building very power efficient, but new, computers for your clients may save 30W or so at idle, but that's not a huge savings in the long run... The environment will be hurt more by the old system that is thrown out before its time in favour of a "more efficient" model.


I agree with you, except for the not huge savings in the long run. If every computer on earth would run on 30W less, it would make quite a nice impact. But as I said, I know my idea won't make a huge difference. It's all about the psychological side of it. I want to make a contribution to the shift in awareness. And I don't want people to throw out their machines before it's time (unless they use 250 W), I'm aiming at the people who want to buy a new and simple computer, but can't seem to find a company that offers low-energy computers.

Look, I know about the toxic waste thrown away computers generate and it's quite disturbing. But right now I'm mainly concerned with the impending energycrisis and the impact our consumption has on the global climate. Once we have that under control (if we ever will in time) we can worry more again on the whole recycle & toxic-problem. I could offer to have people's old computer recycled, for instance. There are enough social projects for these things. But I'd have to look into that. Maybe that would be something for the future, but thanks for mentioning that. I hadn't thought about it yet.

Quote:
Since basic office tasks and media playback requirements are met by just about any P-III or better, it might be best to find ways of making these systems usable in a modern environment. To a large extent, I think this just involves educating people about the software that they're using ... i.e. avoid slow bloated software that gets dumped into the Windows startup and hangs around whenever the computer is running. Avoid Norton AV or other bloated security apps, and tell people how to avoid catching virii or malware.


I was thinking of devoting a large part of the website to tips on conscious computer use. I haven't worked that out at all (too busy with the other things at the moment) but we might discuss this later on in the process. If I still have someone to discuss it with here. :?

Quote:
Use Win XP Lite or a lightweight form of Linux to make the computer "feel" faster while running on the same hardware. Things like that.


That's a good one. I think many people will be quite happy with XP for the next 5 years, and I believe it's possible to install Vista without much of the fancy stuff (Aeroglass and what not).

Quote:
I'm sure there's a business opportunity in there somewhere, but it's much more involved than brokering "efficient" computers. Green computing is as much about awareness as it is about choosing the right parts, so you'll need to sell some "education" along with whatever it is that you're buying. I think you understand this — you want to create a resource where users can educate themselves on which computers are efficient. I just think you need to go deeper than that if you really want to take a good look at the issues involved.


That's why I came here. I need feedback on this so I can go deeper and deeper and broaden my look on the issues involved.

Although I'm not into the business opportunity, I belive as you say that there's a lot of marketing potential in the whole green scheme. Companies who up till now only did marginal things to show they took their social responsibility are becoming more and more aware of the way they can make money out of people's concern for the climate and the environment. They'll forcefeed the masses. I believe the whole green movement thing can become as big and even bigger than the whole anti-smoking campaigns, especially with the rising energy costs and wars over oil. Let's try and speed the hype up. That's my goal and that's how I came up with this idea.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 11:27 am 
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Consider halcyon's comments in Radical rethink on green computing:

Quote:
0) Don't use it, if you don't need it. Even more, don't buy it, unless you really need it.

1) absolute and average power draw limits set for the computer system (including peripherals and displays)

2) Absolute amount of time / day that the computer can be turned on (i.e. that it can be used. Absolutely no idling allowed).

3) Minimum life-time before upgrades. I.e. no upgrades until the machine has serviced X amount of years (unless it breaks, under which scenario fixing is the 1st choice, not partial/full replacement).

4) Minimum set of criteria for upgrades/re-purchases (which companies, which certifications, which processes must be completed for the purchase to be valid 'green computing purchase'). This includes things like ecological life cycle analysis, hazardous chemical, energy efficiency, projected usable life-time for each component. For companies earlier track record, environmental impact, climate impact, overall energy efficiency (esp. in materials logistics) and peer reviewed certification from trusted sources.


I think point 0) is key. Don't buy it. Period.

All the materials and resources that go into the new one, and sending the old one to the dump -- these factors are enough to make the energy efficiency of the new one moot.

For EE with typical computers, the only thing that really matters is idle power. The cheapest low power desktop you can assemble is something like a Sempron w/onboard video, 512mb ram & a notebook drive (any notebook drive) powered with a Seasonic SFX200 (nearly 80+). I think the box could be as little as $350.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 4:01 pm 
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Thanks a lot for commenting, MikeC.

MikeC wrote:
Consider halcyon's comments in Radical rethink on green computing:

Quote:
0) Don't use it, if you don't need it. Even more, don't buy it, unless you really need it.

1) absolute and average power draw limits set for the computer system (including peripherals and displays)

2) Absolute amount of time / day that the computer can be turned on (i.e. that it can be used. Absolutely no idling allowed).

3) Minimum life-time before upgrades. I.e. no upgrades until the machine has serviced X amount of years (unless it breaks, under which scenario fixing is the 1st choice, not partial/full replacement).

4) Minimum set of criteria for upgrades/re-purchases (which companies, which certifications, which processes must be completed for the purchase to be valid 'green computing purchase'). This includes things like ecological life cycle analysis, hazardous chemical, energy efficiency, projected usable life-time for each component. For companies earlier track record, environmental impact, climate impact, overall energy efficiency (esp. in materials logistics) and peer reviewed certification from trusted sources.


I think point 0) is key. Don't buy it. Period.


I totally agree on this one. I won't be asking people to throw away their old computer and buying one of 'mine' to replace it. I'm just saying: 'Hey, you really need a new one? Consider taking mine. It's cheap and it doesn't use a lot of energy. You'd be helping to lessen the impact of the pending catastrophe due to global climate changes.' Or words to that effect.

I've read Halcyon's topic and I agree with him. The thing is that most of it, however noble, isn't realistic. It's too extreme, if you will. I'm trying to start from the way things stand and the way things stand is that people buy too powerful computers before their old ones go broke or become 100% obsolete. And the group of people who might act differently have almost no other choice than to buy a too powerful computer for their needs. I want to let this group know (through the websites of environmental organisations for example) that they have a choice. And then I'm hoping this group will grow as the energy-hype gets bigger and bigger. If Dell and HP take over and start competing over who has the lowest-energy computer, I'll be more than happy to step aside. But I'm fed up with sitting around and wait till they do. As soon as they get the whole carrousel running on solar and wind energy, we can all throw away Halcyon's guide and play 3D pingpong with our 1500 Watt beast of a computer. (he'd still be right though, all the waste has an effect on our minds and souls which is at least as harmful as the effect on the climate). But for the time being: Every little helps.

Quote:
All the materials and resources that go into the new one, and sending the old one to the dump -- these factors are enough to make the energy efficiency of the new one moot.


Of course, and in a perfect world people would use their computers to the very end, not bombarded continuously by companies that try to sell bigger, better, faster products. But it's far from perfect. I think all people who use their common sense would welcome a global shift in consciousness/awareness but it just isn't realistic to think this will happen in time to avoid the effects of global warming. I don't care if the Mayan/Cherokee/Sumerian calendar ends in 2012, we have to address the energy-crisis immediately which means with our old mode of thinking and the system as it is. This is my little way of doing something. The people of SPCR write reviews that most people don't give a damn about but it has spurred people like me on to learn more about efficient PSU's and what not. I'm sure that this attitude of 'we want to make computers as silent (and thus partially low-energy) as possible' rubs off subconsciously on everyone here, even on fellows who come here in order to find info on their 500 W gaming computer-project. I want to try and do a similar thing.

Quote:
For EE with typical computers, the only thing that really matters is idle power. The cheapest low power desktop you can assemble is something like a Sempron w/onboard video, 512mb ram & a notebook drive (any notebook drive) powered with a Seasonic SFX200 (nearly 80+). I think the box could be as little as $350.


I managed to compose a desktop that cost about 550 euros (about 700 USD), but that was with a monitor and XP Home.

How much Watts would this system use on idle? My estimation is about 35 W, depending on the PSU for a large part. This is the only computer I have found in the Netherlands that is low power and it is said to use 40 W (idle) but with a regular HDD. With a monitor that uses 20 Watts you'd have a total of 55 Watts, which is a lot less than the average I'm willing to bet.

The SFX200 unfortunately isn't for sale in the Netherlands. The only 80+ PSU I heard of is the iGreen something (by Fortron I think). I bought a Silentium T4 case to build my own computer half a year ago (after reading the review here). It's a nice-looking, sturdy case with a good PSU that doesn't cost a lot. The only problem is the plastic thing at the bottom which would probably annoy a lot of people. Do you know of any cases with an efficient built-in PSU (preferably micro-ATX, if that's commendable)? Somebody recommended the Aopen H360 but I'm not too sure about the PSU and I couldn't find much about it on the SPCR-forums.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 4:46 pm 
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I appreciate your desire to do something. Helplessness is a horrific feeling. The thing about something like this is that you're fighting the whole gargantuan industry, all the brainwashed people, the entrenched lifestyles, every PC enthusiast, and every PC shop, online and brick/mortar.

IMO, you need a totally compelling message to even get any attention at all. Something either so slick and cool or so up yours militant that people can't help smiling out of admiration for your sheer audacity.

I used to think that every car sold on the road should have unpainted old Volvo style battering ram bumpers, and be available in any color as long as it's green. Consumer choice is a poor substitute for more significant freedoms (tho I know people in the old soviet bloc and north korea might argue otherwise). Me, I'd give your buyers almost no choices at all. They're environmental pilgrims, right, and they just need a working PC, right?

I think to make this work, you have to think big. Partner with a huge e-tailer, get them to provide the transaction / business side services off one of their existing web engines. Source the best cheap components, selloffs, discontinued stuff, overstock, etc. but get really appropriate components, that are really good -- ie, simple, cheap, low cost, low mass, perfectly functional, decent looking. Then price it as low as possible.

It needs to be like the original Ford model T or VW, with just as prosaic a mission in most ways -- yet people have to feel good about buying. That's a huge key -- people have to feel good about buying it, not "oh well, I guess it's good enough, isn't it?, and I'm doing a good thing, right?"

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 9:58 pm 
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If you're aiming to build a business or even a sustainable nonprofit, I would argue that your fourth criteria is, at least initially, counter-productive.

There is cache and bragging rights attached to "green" today which translates into higher, not lower, prices. In the US, Whole Foods is more expensive than Walmart.

If you want the venture to succeed financially, I'd suggest that you charge really high prices initially and capture the "bleeding edge" of techno-environmentalists, and then trickle down to capture the rest of the market.

The people who are cost-conscious will adopt the strategy of "don't buy it at all." You won't sell them either way.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2006 12:00 am 
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For monitors, there's a lot of research to be done, but I suspect that as a general rule, smaller, dimmer LCDs will be best. I'm afraid I can't add much here except to say don't trust manufacturer's specs at face value. Pick what you think is a "typical" usage state and do some tests. If you're going to be partnering with a larger retailer, it shouldn't be difficult to get access to most of their stock to do the tests.

I think that, in addition to hardware configuration, you should also be considering software. A huge amount of power could be saved if

a) all computers were shipped with CnQ / SpeedStep enabled (i.e., the CnQ driver is installed, and Windows is set to Minimal Power Management.
b) all monitors turn off after 10 minutes idle, and all systems go into standby after 15 minutes.

If you can convince your partners to configure all systems in this way by default and then educate your clients not to change the settings, this will probably have a bigger effect on power use than any component choice.

Processors: AMD based processors with low cache (i.e. Semprons) are what you want here... but you already know that. Avoid Intel's cheap 8xx and 9xx processors at all cost ... their idle power consumption is several times that of AMD's chips. Core 2 Duos are better, but still consume more than AMD's. Also, if you can source them, AMD's EE chips should idle slightly more efficiently than regular chips, but the difference is only likely to be a watt or two. TDP and load power are pretty much irrelevant for your target Word-and-IE market, since the processor will rarely be taxed.

PSU / case: PicoPSU if at all possible. If you've read the review, you'll know why. However, I understand your concerns with sourcing this and finding a retailer who will build with them. I would suggest the Antec NSK3300 as a decent microATX case with a good included PSU — it's built by Seasonic, and is a derivitive of their well reviewed SFX model. It's not 80 Plus (I don't think), but it should be reasonably efficient. I can't comment on the AOpen case, since I haven't seen it, but I doubt you'll find much better than a low-capacity PSU sourced from Seasonic in a conventional PSU.

motherboard: Avoid enthusiast boards / chipsets with excess features. Budget boards with fewer features should also consume less power. That probably means using VIA or SiS chipsets, although I hear some of ATI's are quite good. Chipset power has only recently begun to be looked at, and there isn't a lot of information out there, so this is another area where you might need to do your own tests. There's some anecdotal tests on these forums that examine motherboard power, but the results are far from comprehensive.

All in all, with a basic motherboard, CPU, one stick of RAM, a notebook HDD, and a decent, low capacity power supply, you should be able to force idle power consumption to about 40W (IIRC our record is 37W without using mobile parts). 41~42W is more common though. That leaves 20W headroom for the monitor in your revised 60W envelope. That may be tight, but it should be doable with a little research.

To finish, I would like to repeat that I think the biggest thing you can do for your clients is to ensure that whoever builds your systems configures the power saving features properly. It only takes a minute to enable CnQ and set the standby timing, but these can make all the difference. Then, you just need to make sure people understand not to mess with the settings...


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2006 5:25 am 
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MikeC wrote:

IMO, you need a totally compelling message to even get any attention at all. Something either so slick and cool or so up yours militant that people can't help smiling out of admiration for your sheer audacity.


Agreed. But where to start? The hip pocket. Especially Business.

Yes, every 3 years or so, governments, universities and business upgrade their computers, tyically buying from the majors.

So what? 30W difference? Over the course of 3 years, that's around AU$100. Enough to influence a decision. OK, but remember that (especially in Australia) that the building's air conditioning has to dissipate that heat. With the typical low-efficiencies of air con, that can suddenly blow out to $200 or $300. And that's at a mere 14c/kWh !!

On a $800 PC, that's a reasonable portion. Especially over thousands of PCs.

p.s. A database of power drawn by common components at idle/load would be a tremdously helpful tool. This site is the closest yet I have seen to it.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2006 9:26 am 
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Devonavar wrote:
To finish, I would like to repeat that I think the biggest thing you can do for your clients is to ensure that whoever builds your systems configures the power saving features properly. It only takes a minute to enable CnQ and set the standby timing, but these can make all the difference. Then, you just need to make sure people understand not to mess with the settings...
Unfortunately auto-standby isn’t reliable enough in my experience, so people will rightly disable it if they have problems with it. MS should really fix this and not just in Vista.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2006 11:15 am 
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Thanks for the reactions. I'd like to go into a few things and end with some more questions.

MikeC wrote:
I appreciate your desire to do something. Helplessness is a horrific feeling. The thing about something like this is that you're fighting the whole gargantuan industry, all the brainwashed people, the entrenched lifestyles, every PC enthusiast, and every PC shop, online and brick/mortar.

IMO, you need a totally compelling message to even get any attention at all. Something either so slick and cool or so up yours militant that people can't help smiling out of admiration for your sheer audacity.


I try to be a positive realist. As I said, Halcyon's topic is about the way things should be (and he's 100% right). I try to look at the way things are. If you focus too much on the gap between the two you only get hurt and frustrated. The way things are is that people buy too powerful computers. I agree that the main problem lies in what people do with these computers (ie leaving them on when not needed), but it's very, very hard to change this. So while we wait for people to become more aware of the effects of their behaviour, we can try to induce some of them to buy computers that fit their needs better. But you can't get people to buy less powerful computers (if they don't need powerful ones) if nobody is offering them! This is the crux of my project.

The message won't be too idealistic (or eco-fascist as some would put it). It will be factual and plain. There will be simple calculations (like damien suggests) to show the difference it could make. It's not as it should be, but it isn't as it is either. I try to strike a happy medium. Solving the pending energy-crisis will take two things: 1) cut down power consumption, so that at a certain point we can 2) cover global energy needs with the increasing amounts of alternative energy, right? So, if I can get 100 people to buy my 60 W-system instead of Dell's 120 W-system (regardless of the question if they need it or not) then we meet requirement 1) a bit. Every little helps.

Quote:
Me, I'd give your buyers almost no choices at all. They're environmental pilgrims, right, and they just need a working PC, right?


There's a group between the over-consuming wasters and the environmental pilgrims and I believe this group is only going to get bigger and bigger. That's why I'm so adamant about the middle course. I'm imitating regular desktops, but in a minimalist way. I think people will me ignore even more than they are already going to when I try to shove a VIA or Turion down their throat. It might be an idea to use ITX for media centers or small home servers, but that's probably something for the future.

Quote:
I think to make this work, you have to think big. Partner with a huge e-tailer, get them to provide the transaction / business side services off one of their existing web engines. Source the best cheap components, selloffs, discontinued stuff, overstock, etc. but get really appropriate components, that are really good -- ie, simple, cheap, low cost, low mass, perfectly functional, decent looking. Then price it as low as possible.


This was a great piece of advice, MikeC! I'm already in contact with an e-tailer and hope to establish some sort of rapport with their product agents and technical people. I'll be trying to get them to do many things over time (by stressing the 'good' they'd be doing in comparison with the little time it's going to take them). Devonavar's advice on this aspect was also very enlightening: 'I would like to repeat that I think the biggest thing you can do for your clients is to ensure that whoever builds your systems configures the power saving features properly. It only takes a minute to enable CnQ and set the standby timing, but these can make all the difference. Then, you just need to make sure people understand not to mess with the settings...' I hope I can get them to think a bit the way I do. We'll have to see about that, but I'll keep you posted on that. There will be tips on the website about responsible computer use and it might be a good idea to send a copy of that (on recycled paper) along with the PC.

Quote:
It needs to be like the original Ford model T or VW, with just as prosaic a mission in most ways -- yet people have to feel good about buying. That's a huge key -- people have to feel good about buying it, not "oh well, I guess it's good enough, isn't it?, and I'm doing a good thing, right?"


Exactly! The marketing is incredibly important. It's like this booming business you see of late where people can have trees planted to neutralize the effects of their behavior. Things like this strengthen my belief that the group of people who want an alternative is growing. You got people buying fridges or cars on basis of their power consumption, but where do they go if they want to buy a low power PC and don't have the time or knowledge to sift through this forum and build one themselves? I don't know about the US or Canada, but in the Netherlands they have nowhere to go.

Devonovar wrote:
For monitors, there's a lot of research to be done, but I suspect that as a general rule, smaller, dimmer LCDs will be best. I'm afraid I can't add much here except to say don't trust manufacturer's specs at face value. Pick what you think is a "typical" usage state and do some tests. If you're going to be partnering with a larger retailer, it shouldn't be difficult to get access to most of their stock to do the tests.


I've already opened threads at a few forums in the Netherlands to ask people to measure the power consumption of their monitor. I posted the results of mine (Neovo F-417: 24.6 W), my parents' (Acer 1716: 25.0 W) and the Dell at my job (34.3 W). As soon as I have a good contact with this retailer I'm planning to work with, I will ask them things like this. Anyone have any ideas where I could find some sort of a power consumption database (like damien says) for monitors? Should I open a topic here on SPCR? I'm not sure whether Americans and Canadians have the same monitors as Europeans but I could get an idea on how different manufacturers relate to each other.

Quote:
Processors: AMD based processors with low cache (i.e. Semprons) are what you want here... but you already know that. Avoid Intel's cheap 8xx and 9xx processors at all cost ... their idle power consumption is several times that of AMD's chips. Core 2 Duos are better, but still consume more than AMD's. Also, if you can source them, AMD's EE chips should idle slightly more efficiently than regular chips, but the difference is only likely to be a watt or two. TDP and load power are pretty much irrelevant for your target Word-and-IE market, since the processor will rarely be taxed.


Yeah, I'm going for the AM2 Semprons for now, and will let people choose from an small array of low power processors (the EE SFFs).

Quote:
PSU / case: PicoPSU if at all possible. If you've read the review, you'll know why. However, I understand your concerns with sourcing this and finding a retailer who will build with them. I would suggest the Antec NSK3300 as a decent microATX case with a good included PSU — it's built by Seasonic, and is a derivitive of their well reviewed SFX model. It's not 80 Plus (I don't think), but it should be reasonably efficient. I can't comment on the AOpen case, since I haven't seen it, but I doubt you'll find much better than a low-capacity PSU sourced from Seasonic in a conventional PSU.


PicoPSU is too much of a hassle unfortunately, although I'm keeping the option open. But this Antec NSK3300 is just the thing I was looking for! It's small, it's slick, not too expensive and it has a Seasonic PSU. Thanks a lot, Devonovar, this is the one! This is a great load off my back.

Quote:
motherboard: Avoid enthusiast boards / chipsets with excess features. Budget boards with fewer features should also consume less power. That probably means using VIA or SiS chipsets, although I hear some of ATI's are quite good. Chipset power has only recently begun to be looked at, and there isn't a lot of information out there, so this is another area where you might need to do your own tests. There's some anecdotal tests on these forums that examine motherboard power, but the results are far from comprehensive.


Still a lot of work here. I've already picked a few possible (micro-ATX) motherboards at the retailer I'm planning to work with. Most of them are with nvidia/nforce chipsets, but there are two boards (Asus and MSI) with VIA K8M890. I'm going to dive into the motherboard-threads here at SPCR tomorrow, but suggestions are more than welcome.


Here's one last question about processors: If I could get my retailer to underclock processors would that be a good idea? Or can you screw up things easily by doing that. I suppose the EE (SFF) procs can't be undervolted any further, but if you could lower the TDP of regular procs you'd broaden the range of possibilities. I'm sorry if this question sounds stupid, underclocking is yet another subject I have to learn more about. I'm a 32-year old translator with a lot of catching up to do. :cry: :D


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2006 11:31 am 
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Quote:
Solving the pending energy-crisis


There is no energy crisis (in the sense of a shortage of energy) but there may be some very negative repercussions if we continue to produce energy in such a carbon-intensive way. They are two different issues though.

Quote:
Here's one last question about processors: If I could get my retailer to underclock processors would that be a good idea?


Undervolting is much more effective at reducing power usage than underclocking. So a motherboard with CPU voltage option in BIOS is a good choice (Asrock boards are usually good in this respect).

Quote:
I've already picked a few possible (micro-ATX) motherboards at the retailer I'm planning to work with. Most of them are with nvidia/nforce chipsets, but there are two boards (Asus and MSI) with VIA K8M890.


VIA chipsets are generally more energy-efficient than nForce chipsets. However I'm pretty sure those Asus and MSI boards don't have voltage options in BIOS. I use the Asrock Alive NF4G-DVI but generally all the low-end AM2 Asrock boards are good.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2006 12:04 pm 
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I think the Mac Mini is a good starting point for inspiration. I’d like to see more PCs from the large manufacturers that follow its example in areas such as these:

1. Ultra small format - mobile components including notebook drives, IGP only, external power brick.
2. Small format - mobile chipsets and CPUs, desktop drives, IGP only, external power brick.
3. Small format VGA – same as 2) except for an added PCIe x16 slot and a more powerful power supply (either SFX or power brick).

Low power components (mobile) don’t have to be more expensive than desktop ones, it’s just the way the market prices thing at the moment; it can easily change. Hopefully, the enlarged AMD will move to compete with Intel’s Mobile on Desktop platform and we’ll see more competition and better pricing in this market segment.
You can already buy inexpensive low power mobile CPUs and drives, although you do get less for your money. Look at the comparative pricing of Conroe v Merom as an example.
Things are already a lot better than they were in the past, with S479 boards supporting Yonah/Merom/Celeron M 4xx available from £75 in the UK for the Gigabyte board.
Celeron M 4xx CPUs start at £35 and the lack of EIST doesn’t cripple them as much as I’d imagined versus Yonah; 2W more at idle.

Some of the technical problems I see for smaller companies building very low power systems are these:

1. There is no recognised standard for using DC/DC boards with external power bricks. This means that they use different voltages and physical connectors, which makes it harder to mix and match between various components for optimal efficiency. At the moment it is not even simple just connecting a power brick to a DC/DC board when using a standard ATX case, as there is no standard fitting defined.

2. The whole issue of high end VGA cards when used with systems with a small power supply is a thorny one.

I’m glad to see you are being pragmatic and looking at AM2 systems rather than initially going with anything more exotic. I want to take a look at the AM2 platform soon and compare it with Core (x) Duo on LGA775 and S479.

Under-volting of commercial PC systems will require stress testing them to make sure that you haven’t reduced the voltage too much. That will add to the build time and therefore expense of the System. It may also lead to problems if the user upgrades the CPU without changing the Voltage settings. So obviously you need to make it very clear that this could be an issue.
Under-clocking is more trivial and shouldn’t require stress testing for every system built. Personally, I would stress test a particular combination of CPU/Motherboard/Multiplier to check that it is okay, but just the once per configuration.

I wish you well with your venture.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2006 12:40 pm 
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MikeC wrote:
IMO, you need a totally compelling message to even get any attention at all. Something either so slick and cool or so up yours militant that people can't help smiling out of admiration for your sheer audacity.
From what I can tell, most people are like sheep and will merrily keep on over-consuming until we fall off the precipice. Until the Politicians and Media get seriously behind the idea that we may very well be staring into the abyss, I can’t see many people changing their ways that much. I’m not suggesting for a second that people don’t promote green issues; I’m just trying to be realistic in how I personally relate to the average person with regard this issue.

I found it interesting that when I polled people about how important power consumption is in their PC purchasing decisions, nobody said they didn’t consider it. Soon afterwards somebody polled about whether people were interested in more coverage on green issues with regard to PCs and there was quite a bit of negative feedback.
The green issue does seem to press some peoples’ buttons, no doubt.


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As far as I know, there are no reliable power consumption databases out there. Even if you did find one you'd need to be pretty sure that the database contains actual test results and doesn't just summarize manufacturer's specifications.

I would think that SPCR would be an ideal place for the poll that you propose, and, as far as I know, monitors are pretty much the same on both sides of the Atlantic.

However, I would leave you with one caution: As with power supplies, different input voltages are likely to affect the power consumption. Chances are, one and the same monitor will draw more power from North America's 120V grid than Europe's 240V grid.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2006 12:06 am 
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Quote:
As far as I know, there are no reliable power consumption databases out there


Xbitlabs has thousands of measurements of graphics cards and CPUs, but it's not a database as such.


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Perhaps another one for your e-tailer partner.

Most computer shops have "build your own" system website, choosing bits and pieces.

Have an extension of this concept and have two systems side by side and on the bottom, have something like:

System (a) vs System (b) will save you $30 per year when operated during standard working hours. If you keep it on all the time, you'll save ....

(and a "did you know, if you run airconditioning, you could save double or triple this amount...)

But having it costed at the time when you are buying the system will bring the direct operating costs into focus and actually make people aware of the power issues.

Of course, it'll need good idle estimates.

----

Also, could mobo manufacturers release an adapted laptop motherboard for desktops? It's a nieche market to tap into, even if the cost is somewhat higher than a typical desktop board. Same way that the Toyota Prius brings publicity to the issue.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2006 8:00 pm 
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MikeC wrote:
The thing about something like this is that you're fighting the whole gargantuan industry, all the brainwashed people, the entrenched lifestyles, every PC enthusiast, and every PC shop, online and brick/mortar.


Are we really, though? I thought one of the most astounding things about theiMac review was the overall power draw. By any objective standard, the iMac is amazingly efficient, and a very capable computer as well.

Who could have imagined the Toyota Prius being such a hit, and right-smack in the middle of a gas-guzzling SUV movement? I think efficiency is definitely "hip" at the moment, or at least getting hipper. And it doesn't have to be cheap either: by no objective standard is a Prius economical; unless gasoline prices increased substantially, it would be very difficult to bridge the sticker price disparity between something like a Honda Civic LX (which is no efficiency slouch either, and thousands of dollars less). Despite that, the demand for the Prius is huge.

So, to me, there are people who are willing to pay more simply to be more efficient and ecologically responsible (although I will add that the Prius has some other cool selling points), even if the $$$ doesn't quite add up. Yes, they are probably not the "d00d do i need 700W or 900W PSU???" people, but I think the mass market is quite different from the enthusist market, and they just need to be informed that there are these "green" products available. It makes me wonder why Apple hasn't really tapped into that image as well as they should; nowhere on their iMac page do they point out that it is far more efficient than the average PC, in addition to being sonically and ergonomically superior.

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Beyonder wrote:
MikeC wrote:
The thing about something like this is that you're fighting the whole gargantuan industry, all the brainwashed people, the entrenched lifestyles, every PC enthusiast, and every PC shop, online and brick/mortar.


Are we really, though? I thought one of the most astounding things about theiMac review was the overall power draw. By any objective standard, the iMac is amazingly efficient, and a very capable computer as well.

I was thinking mostly about the idea of greatly reduced choices. Like that ole model T -- any color as long as it's black.

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Beyonder wrote:
MikeC wrote:

So, to me, there are people who are willing to pay more simply to be more efficient and ecologically responsible (although I will add that the Prius has some other cool selling points), even if the $$$ doesn't quite add up. Yes, they are probably not the "d00d do i need 700W or 900W PSU???" people, but I think the mass market is quite different from the enthusist market, and they just need to be informed that there are these "green" products available. It makes me wonder why Apple hasn't really tapped into that image as well as they should; nowhere on their iMac page do they point out that it is far more efficient than the average PC, in addition to being sonically and ergonomically superior.


My friend, this is exactly point. In fact, it's the whole driving force behind my 'business concept'.

Later on I'll be posting a preliminary result of the monitor-survey I did on the largest computer enthusiast forum in the Netherlands. I might have found my 20 Watt monitor.


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Palindroman wrote:
Later on I'll be posting a preliminary result of the monitor-survey I did on the largest computer enthusiast forum in the Netherlands. I might have found my 20 Watt monitor.
That was quick. 8)
I have sent you a PM on this subject.


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damien wrote:
OK, but remember that (especially in Australia) that the building's air conditioning has to dissipate that heat. With the typical low-efficiencies of air con, that can suddenly blow out to $200 or $300. And that's at a mere 14c/kWh !!


wait a second, I'm using my pc to heat my room, i'd be LOSING money! :lol:

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klankymen wrote:
damien wrote:
OK, but remember that (especially in Australia) that the building's air conditioning has to dissipate that heat. With the typical low-efficiencies of air con, that can suddenly blow out to $200 or $300. And that's at a mere 14c/kWh !!


wait a second, I'm using my pc to heat my room, i'd be LOSING money! :lol:


lol, one man's meat is another man's poison...

I keep on forgetting that here in Queensland, a cold day is defined as one where you cannot wear a t-shirt and shorts... :D

I would imagine that fair chunks of the USA in the south would have the same problem.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 05, 2006 12:39 am 
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Palindroman wrote:
PicoPSU is too much of a hassle unfortunately, although I'm keeping the option open.


I recently built a 'green' PC as a tow-in-the-water exercise. It is currently proving a miserable failure of a listing on Ebay Australia, despite my best attempts at a suitable description. It was my hope that people would show an interest and I could build such systems as a hobby.

Here's the problem: my system sans monitor/kbrd/mouse cost about AU$800 in parts, to say nothing for the expenses of time and trial-and-error to reach my successful configuration. Yet an average bidder will glance over the specifications and falsely assume it's a rip-off even though I am asking under $500 as a starting price. They will automatically think an 80-120w PSU should cost less than a 500w, or that a 120 gb 2.5" drive should cost less than a 200 gb 3.5". People are used to looking only at the raw numbers and think bigger numbers (GHz, megabytes etc) equals a 'more advanced' system. This is the way they have been educated by marketing and is extremely difficult to change.

I think the best market for this type of product would be offices and workplaces where the company in question wants to save a few dollars in energy, reduce office noise levels (which contribute to stress) and brag in a press release about being green. As long as they are responsible in disposing of their old equipment, everyone wins.

For what it's worth, the box I made consisted of:
* PicoPSU 120 with 80 watt EDac brick - I have been amazed at never needing more than 80 watts on several relatively conventional systems, and think the whole 400w PSU norm is nothing but a marketing conspiracy
* Sempron3000 754 (now harder to get, but coolest Sempron with CnQ)
* basic Asus all-in-one mATX with onboard sound, graphics, network, CnQ; dirt cheap just like the Sempron
* Samsung 120 gb 2.5" drive with simple self-made enclosure of foam wrapped around it - this drive is a stand-out in value for money
* 1 GB RAM (not 512 since RAM doesn't increase energy usage much)
* Ninja Plus CPU cooler
* Coolermaster Elite330 case - cheap and attractive and I sold the stock PSU seperately
* misc bits like 2.5-3.5" IDE adaptor, Zalman Fanmate etc

I hope you can be much more successful!


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Eunos wrote:
* 1 GB RAM (not 512 since RAM doesn't increase energy usage much)
1GB is a minimum if you do a bit of multi-tasking and especially where Vista is concerned.
If you don’t have enough RAM you will increase power consumption, as the page file will be used a lot more so increasing the access to the hard drive. It’s a false economy for anything but a bottom of the line PC. It’s a shame that RAM prices have increased so much recently.


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Thanks for posting your system, Eunos! If I had lived in Australia, I'd certainly let you build a low power desktop suited to my personal needs. Right now, I have a 2.0 AMD Venice core, 1024 MB ram, Samsung Spinpoint 80 GB, Asus mobo in an Arctic Cooling Silentium (after reading the review here) with built-in Seasonic PSU. At idle it consumes 85 W (that's with monitor and modem for DSL). I wish I had one idling at 50 W though.

Okay, here's the first list of power consumption of LCD screens. I figured stand-by level isn't relevant as most modern LCD/TFT-screens are below the 2 W mark. Someone at the other forum suggested to measure the monitors at different percentages of brightness. This is it (for now):

Samsung Syncmaster 710T 17" TFT

0%: -
50%: 17,9 W
100%: 27,5 W

Dell 2405FPW 24"

0%: 40 W
50%: -
100%: 74 W

Samsung 205BW 20"

0%: 18 W
50%: -
100%: 38 W

Samsung 930BF 19"

0%: 15 W
50%: -
100% brightness: 33 W

Samsung 173P

0%: 24W
50%: 25W
100%: 32.7W

Neovo F-417 17"

0%: 24.7 W
50%: 24.7 W
100%: 31.9 W

I have a hunch that Samsung produces the least power consuming monitors. When I get hooked up with a retailer, I hope their technical people will be willing to do some measurements where possible.

That's it for now! I'll have some more questions on what I should put in my Antec NSK3300 case later this week. 8)


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Okay, so I found a retailer to work with. The main problem I'm facing right now is the scarce availability of the 35W Sempron 3000+ I was planning to use for my budget system (like Demian suggested, I'm thinking of trying to assemble a medium-end lowest power as possible system as well). People ordering at my site might have to wait for weeks which is far from desirable of course. Things will probably be better in a few months but I want to start with the project asap.

I have to discuss this matter with the retailer but I thought I'd check some things out first. What if this problem is insoluble for the time being (till AMD can produce enough processors for HP, Dell and me ;) )? I've been reading a lot about undervolting lately and was wondering if I could achieve something there. When I have made up my mind about which components to use I consider ordering a sample for myself and run all kinds of tests (with a bit of your help hopefully) to make it more efficient so that I'll be able to ask the retailer (who will build and test the systems for me, and send them to my clients) what things to do to optimize the system's efficiency, like Devonavar said.

Now, the main question is twofold (I'm sorry I haven't found this much out while researching). First: Can I imitate a 35W Sempron 3000+ by undervolting another similar CPU? I've found some info here (QuietOC's post was enlightening) and I have to check with the retailer what kind of Semprons he has exactly to see if they are E6 or F2 revision. But is it worth the try? And if so:

smilingcrow wrote:
Under-volting of commercial PC systems will require stress testing them to make sure that you haven’t reduced the voltage too much. That will add to the build time and therefore expense of the System. It may also lead to problems if the user upgrades the CPU without changing the Voltage settings. So obviously you need to make it very clear that this could be an issue.


Would it be enough to stress test the sample I'm going to order and then hand over the info to the retailer or should every sample be stress tested? Thanks for the answers, it helps me get an exact view of all the (im)possibilities. Whatever is done to the system, I'm planning to send a small leaflet/booklet along with the invoice to the client where I explain exactly what is done to the computer and why, and what this means for power consumption and eventual future upgrades.


By the way, these are the micro-ATX motherboards my retailer has on offer:

Asus

M2V-TVM (VIA K8M890)
M2NPV-MX
M2NPV-VM *

MSI

K9VGM-V (VIA K8M890)
K9NGM-L
K9AGM2-L (ATI Radeon Express 1150) *
K9NGM2-FID

Asrock

Alive NF6G-DVI
Alive NF4G-DVI

Gigabyte

Ga-M51GM-S2G

* Sempron compatible according to AMD


I'm already researching motherboards a bit, but if any of you has any suggestion or advice... :idea:


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2006 4:13 am 
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Can I imitate a 35W Sempron 3000+ by undervolting another similar CPU?


Yes.

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Would it be enough to stress test the sample I'm going to order and then hand over the info to the retailer or should every sample be stress tested?


Ideally every sample should be tested, however this will be very time-consuming. However, since this will not be a high-volume business (at least at first) testing all your samples should be feasible.

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Alive NF4G-DVI


I have this board, it's great: undervolts down to 0.8V in BIOS, low power consumption, good onboard graphics, DVI + VGA output. One word of warning however: the undervolting options are not available for the AM2 Sempron 2800/3000 (no idea why), so you need to get at least a 3200+.

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* Sempron compatible according to AMD


All AM2 boards should work with Semprons, that's what's great about socket AM2, it accepts the budget chips (Semprons) and the high-end chips (X2 4800) and everything in between. So it's very upgradeable.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2006 5:30 am 
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Thanks for replying, jaganath!

Say, and now for a really silly question: Is it possible to undervolt a 35 W TDP Sempron? Probably been done already by AMD, eh? :roll:


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2006 6:24 am 
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Is it possible to undervolt a 35 W TDP Sempron?


The EE Sempron already has a lower supply voltage than the standard Sempron (1.25 vs 1.4V); the question is whether the EE Sempron is simply a normal chip that has been undervolted at the factory (altering the VID value), or it is made of "better" silicon, which is more able to cope with lower voltages.

To cut a long story short, the answer is yes, but it is questionable whether the price premium of the EE is worth the energy savings over an undervolted normal Sempron.


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