Lowest power Intel/AMD setup ?

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djkest
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Lowest power Intel/AMD setup ?

Post by djkest » Mon Dec 17, 2007 10:42 am

Okay, I've been pondering this idea for a while. What is the lowest CPU/motherboard combo you can imagine using a current Intel of AMD CPU, with enough power to smoothly run productivity, music, movies (non-HD), and general internet use under Windows XP / Ubuntu?

My idea would be one of the low-power 45W CPUs from AMD, undervolted to the max @ stock speed, and a Biostar micro-atx motherboard with integrated graphics.

Think 40 W idle / 60 load (full CPU load) is attainable?

Thanks for looking.

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Re: Lowest power Intel/AMD setup ?

Post by MikeC » Mon Dec 17, 2007 10:46 am

djkest wrote:My idea would be one of the low-power 45W CPUs from AMD, undervolted to the max @ stock speed, and a Biostar micro-atx motherboard with integrated graphics.

Think 40 W idle / 60 load (full CPU load) is attainable?
With the right PSU, no problem.
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Post by Lawrence Lee » Mon Dec 17, 2007 11:38 am

With the right power supply, some undervolting/underclocking, and a small 2.5" drive, you might be able to reach 30W idle.

djkest
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Post by djkest » Mon Dec 17, 2007 11:47 am

The right PSU is also a matter of contention. A pico-psu would be the best solution, I'd imagine. But also with the lower power numbers, any low power 300W 80 plus power supply would be decent. Even an Earthwatts 380 might be sufficient (and reasonable)... or Seasonic 300W 80+.

But even then, 20% of 300W is 60W, so all of these conventional power supplies are out of their max efficiency range at these lower power settings. Still, with 40W required, the difference between 80% and 90% efficiency would be about 4.4 Watts.

Interestingly, I tried undervolt/underclocking my gaming computer, just for fun. I ran it at 2.0 GHz / 1.150 V. I was able to measure a difference in power use of just 20W from idle to prime 95 load (about 70% over both cores) And this is with a 70% efficient PSU. So I'm thinking If you could run at a lower voltage, your deltaP would be even smaller perhaps.

Edit: the reason I didn't go with VIA, I know they have good low power setups but most reports I have read show that they don't have consistent performance in windowsXP.

Edit2: This CPU comes at 1.2V stock, I'd estimate 1.05V would be in range at stock clock speeds.

It looks like the motherboard in Mr. Lee's sig is the one I was thinking of. It looks like at these power levels the PS selection is the real critical factor. Pico PSU is perhaps the only way to go.

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Post by derekva » Mon Dec 17, 2007 12:38 pm

Not sure if this will do it (don't have a way to measure power draw), but here's a suggestion:
  • Core2Duo T2300 (31W TDP)
    AOpen i945GTm-VHL
    2GB DDR2-667 SODIMMs
    Seagate Momentus 5400.4 (choose your capacity - 2.1W)
I'm not sure what the power draw of the motherboard and RAM are, but it can't be too drastic, especially given that the RAM is SODIMM-based. Video is onboard GMA950 (ugh) but has DVI and the board supports gigabit LAN. You should be able to undervolt the processor for a bit of additional savings.

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Post by MikeC » Mon Dec 17, 2007 12:54 pm

There's also the Intel $70 embedded CPU mini-ITX to consider. Add any mobile drive or WD greenpower, and it'll do everything you ask for and get you under 50W max AC w/ just about any 80 Plus <350W PSU. We got 40W max AC with a Sparkle Power SPI220LE 80 Plus.
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Post by RedAE102 » Mon Dec 17, 2007 12:54 pm

PicoPSU isn't necessarily the only way to go... My system outlined in my sig idles at a mere 37W and tops out at 68W when running 2xCPUburn and the hard drive stressing tool integrated into Everest. The noisy and notoriously hot running Seagate 7200.9 is left unplugged except during those times when it is absolutely needed. And this is with a non-80-Plus Seasonic S12-330HB; imagine what it could do with even a revised S12II-330GB, let alone a Pico.

The possibilities these days are endless.
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Post by djkest » Mon Dec 17, 2007 1:21 pm

It seems to me that the brisbane solution mentioned above would be significantly faster than the intel-based solution, although more expensive, with only a modest increase in power useage. I guess the best way to go for me would be get one of each and play around w/ them, lol. The MODT intel solution sounds pretty good, although it comes at a price premium, and the motherboards are very limited for that as well.

EDIT: the intel mini-itx board has surprisingly good performance in HD video. Maybe it has a little stronger performance than I thought initially.

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Re: Lowest power Intel/AMD setup ?

Post by lm » Mon Dec 17, 2007 1:59 pm

djkest wrote:What is the lowest CPU/motherboard combo you can imagine using a current Intel of AMD CPU, with enough power to smoothly run productivity, music, movies (non-HD), and general internet use under Windows XP / Ubuntu?
Get anything second hand. The saved energy cost of production easily saves you lots towards the power difference between the most optimal new device and a decently power efficient used device.

Since you don't need HD video, anything else has been doable for a long time. Standard dvd video played on my 450MHz P2 way back then, for example.

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Post by JohnAStebbins » Mon Dec 17, 2007 3:08 pm

If you're looking for something on the cheap with DVI and spdif for HTPC, you might consider this:

BIOSTAR GF7100P-M7S $65
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6813138101
Celeron 420 Conroe-L 1.6GHz 35W $38
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6819116040
Add 1G memory for ~ $20

and you've got the basics for about $123

Note, NVidia graphics are still more reliable under linux than ATI. That may change soon, but if you want it to work now, my recomendation is NVidia.
On this board, there is a spdif header on the mobo. You just need to wire it to a RCA jack for coax spdif output.

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Post by jojo4u » Mon Dec 17, 2007 5:48 pm


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Post by frostedflakes » Mon Dec 17, 2007 6:36 pm

The system in my sig (using onboard instead of the 7600GT) would idle at 41w, so with a lower power 2.5" drive and more efficient PSU this should be very doable. Also I wouldn't bother with a low-wattage CPU, you should be able to undervolt a normal one very well.
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Post by frank2003 » Mon Dec 17, 2007 7:08 pm

If mini-itx is not a requirement, I think you can do well with an AM2 CPU (i.e. Brisbane) paired with a 690G or 7050 board, both in terms of cost and power consumption.

Using the new Intel D201GLY2 as a benchmark, for less than the incremental cost of an AM2 processor, not only can you get a system with comparable power consumption (with undervolting), but you also get a lot more for the money:

- faster, dual core processor
- much better graphics performance
- GbE
- PCI-e
- 4 SATA ports
- Firewire (for some boards)
- HDMI/DVI, TV-out

I have 690G based PVR/file server with 7200rpm 3.5" disk. It idles at less than 32W.

djkest
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Post by djkest » Mon Dec 17, 2007 7:46 pm

Thanks for all the replies, some good discussion going on here. I think brisbane would be a great value, good performance, and low power. I think the dark horse would be the mobile c2d cpus. I know the core 2 duo is an excellent power/speed ratio, the mobile one is probably even better. Strange that I haven't seen anyone make a case yet for the 2120 / 2140 / 2160 or even something like an E4400.

I also have a theory about RAM: a single stick @ 1.8V would be the best in terms of power.. but then again, how much power does each stick use? In most cases dual channel would be faster, so that is the tradeoff.

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Post by ronrem » Mon Dec 17, 2007 8:50 pm

frostedflakes wrote:The system in my sig (using onboard instead of the 7600GT) would idle at 41w, so with a lower power 2.5" drive and more efficient PSU this should be very doable. Also I wouldn't bother with a low-wattage CPU, you should be able to undervolt a normal one very well.
And if your needs are modest-even a 3600 Brisbane may be more horsepower than you need. The Minimal Sparta single core will certainly be less watts-less heat + noise. Lss money too.

If your goal is the ultimate game beast-you are looking at the high end-high dollar stuff. Low watts/ Low heat and noise? You look at the CHEAPEST.
That's SO cool. Want quiet/frugal....spend the minimum! :D

You can get a Sempron Sparta and a 690 mobo and some RAM for LESS than $150. Yay! A gamer spends 4 times that for a vid card. A Fortron Green PSU and a mini Ninja and you are still below $250 while you have near the state of the art in low watts--heat--noise, yet it's not even a rig that's lame. Rather...it's got more pop than the best ever Pentium 3 and most P4's. It out does most Athlon Bartons and blows away any Palomino.

And you can do it new at a cost not much more than a used puter.

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Post by austinbike » Tue Dec 18, 2007 5:29 am

My system pulls 43w right now:

AMD Athlon 5000+
1x1GB DDR-2 DIMM
120mm rexflow fan on heatsink
120mm Stealth system case fan
500W antec phantom ps
18X DVDRW
2.5" 80GB notebook HD

When I had 2 DIMMs in it was 47W (pulled one temporarily to build another system). I keep all of my data on NAS devices so I can use notebook drives in the PC's instead of having a bunch of individual drives spread around the house.

djkest
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Post by djkest » Tue Dec 18, 2007 6:37 am

austinbike wrote:My system pulls 43w right now:

AMD Athlon 5000+
1x1GB DDR-2 DIMM
120mm rexflow fan on heatsink
120mm Stealth system case fan
500W antec phantom ps
18X DVDRW
2.5" 80GB notebook HD
What voltage are you running at right now? I was able to run at 1.30V @ 2.6GHz. Also, if you don't mind, could you try running at 10x (2.0GHz) @ 1.15V, and see what that does for your power?

Thanks

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Post by ryboto » Tue Dec 18, 2007 6:44 am

my X2 4000+ can do 2.1ghz with 1.025v. For a 10W increase in load power, I can push it to 2.4ghz @ 1.125v. Does 2.6ghz with 1.2v. Since I have a discrete video card installed, I do draw a bit more from the wall than others. Next week I'll be checking the system power draw without a video card. Just meant this as an example of how low the Brisbanes can go.
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Post by djkest » Tue Dec 18, 2007 7:08 am

Wow, 1.025V is stellar. I might see if I can get my voltages that low. I'll try running a 2.0GHz, since my motherboard only supports full steps in multiplier.

BTW, on my system, I ran 2.0 @ 1.15V, just to see what would happen. I got the following numbers:
Idle: 109W
Prime 95: 132W
3Dmark06 (CPU1 test): 135W
3Dmark06 (Canyon): 216W

Which looks like the difference between idle and load is about 23W

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Post by frostedflakes » Tue Dec 18, 2007 7:10 am

Yeah my 3600+ which is clocked a few hunded MHz slower was able to do 0.975V stable. There's really no reason to pay the premium for a low-power AMD in my opinion when you can get a Brisbane for $55 and probably have a sub-35w processor after undervolting. Such a large undervolt should reduce CPU power consumption by about 50%.

EDIT: As far as Intel goes C2D offers much better performance/watt than AMD, but I think they use a bit more power at idle and are also more expensive. If you don't need the extra performance and just want something efficient and cheap I don't think you can do much better than a Brisbane.

For RAM voltage probably doesn't make a huge difference, so I wouldn't worry too much about that. Might increase power consumption a few tenths of a watt, I doubt it would be anything significant.
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Post by austinbike » Tue Dec 18, 2007 7:33 am

djkest wrote:What voltage are you running at right now? I was able to run at 1.30V @ 2.6GHz. Also, if you don't mind, could you try running at 10x (2.0GHz) @ 1.15V, and see what that does for your power?

Thanks
I can only adjust the clock, not the voltage (Gigabyte GA-MA69GM-S2H).

When I adjust the clock to 10X, the processor throttling does not kick in, so the CPU is running at 2GHz, not the standard 1GHz in idle. Plus, at 1GHz, the fan does not need to kick in on the CPU, so there is less power draw as well.

At 10X, the wattage is ~60W, when set to "auto", the result is ~42W. Since this system sits idle 95% of the day, auto is the best setting for me.

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Post by frostedflakes » Tue Dec 18, 2007 7:47 am

ronrem wrote:And if your needs are modest-even a 3600 Brisbane may be more horsepower than you need. The Minimal Sparta single core will certainly be less watts-less heat + noise. Lss money too.

If your goal is the ultimate game beast-you are looking at the high end-high dollar stuff. Low watts/ Low heat and noise? You look at the CHEAPEST.
That's SO cool. Want quiet/frugal....spend the minimum! :D

You can get a Sempron Sparta and a 690 mobo and some RAM for LESS than $150. Yay! A gamer spends 4 times that for a vid card. A Fortron Green PSU and a mini Ninja and you are still below $250 while you have near the state of the art in low watts--heat--noise, yet it's not even a rig that's lame. Rather...it's got more pop than the best ever Pentium 3 and most P4's. It out does most Athlon Bartons and blows away any Palomino.

And you can do it new at a cost not much more than a used puter.
It is crazy how much computer you can get for so little these days, especially since DDR2 prices have gone through the floor. When I built my system earlier this year 2x512MB was about $90. Soon after that prices started to plummet and within a few months you could get 2x1GB for the same price. Now you can get 4GB of memory for what 1GB cost me a little less than a year ago, lol. It really helps that dual-cores have become more affordable as well.
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Post by frank2003 » Tue Dec 18, 2007 12:06 pm

frostedflakes wrote: It is crazy how much computer you can get for so little these days
No kidding :-(. It still pains me every time I think about how much I spent on a 939 dual core processor less than two years ago (~$650 for a 4400+). And it didn't even support DDR2! Oh well, I guess that's the price to pay for being on the bleeding edge.

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Post by austinbike » Tue Dec 18, 2007 6:17 pm

I paid $2500 for a 286 back in the day.

Quit your winging ;)

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Post by djkest » Tue Dec 18, 2007 7:06 pm

I paid $200 for 4MB of RAM!

Back on topic, looks like 30W idle/ 50W load would be feasible with carefully selected desktop components. With that kind of low power, a 1-fan or 2-fan setup would be plenty.

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Post by QuietOC » Wed Dec 19, 2007 9:42 am

djkest wrote:I paid $200 for 4MB of RAM!

Back on topic, looks like 30W idle/ 50W load would be feasible with carefully selected desktop components. With that kind of low power, a 1-fan or 2-fan setup would be plenty.
I just tested a Athlon 64 LE1620 (2.4GHz, "45W") with a ASUS M2A-VM (AMD 690G-based). I haven't tested the stock undervolting on it yet, but it should be nice, since it easily does 3.0GHz on a mere 1.3V. The M2A-VM has CPU voltages down to 0.800V in BIOS. No fan should be very doable.

Did I mention the LE1620 has a 1MB L2 cache? Forget about Celerons.

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Post by frank2003 » Wed Dec 19, 2007 10:26 am

Just want to add that these ultra-low power consumption figures are achievable only with high-efficiency PSUs like the picoPSU. An el cheapo generic ATX PSU probably draws anywhere from 20-30W more power at the wall.

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Post by austinbike » Wed Dec 19, 2007 3:59 pm

mid 40W on antec standard power supplies (phantom and earth) tells me that the savings from pico are nice, but not necessarily worth the hassle in some cases.

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Post by ryboto » Wed Dec 19, 2007 4:18 pm

austinbike wrote:mid 40W on antec standard power supplies (phantom and earth) tells me that the savings from pico are nice, but not necessarily worth the hassle in some cases.
I have both an FSP Zen 400W, and a Pico with a Dell brick. Both sources give me about the same exact power draw from the wall. The efficiency of a system using a PicoPSU is highly dependent on the 12v brick you choose to use.
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Post by frank2003 » Wed Dec 19, 2007 5:23 pm

When I was benchmarking my 690G boards, I found the Antec TP-380W drew ~25W more power than the picoPSU120 when the system was idle and under load.

The input voltage from the power brick to the picoPSU also will affect its efficiency. There is a versiobn of the picoPSU that accepts a wider range of input voltage. On paper it's advertised to be less efficient than the popular 12V version.

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