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Windows 7: Help me reduce power usage on this PC

19 Jun 2015   #1
ish4d0w

Microsoft® Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
 
 
Help me reduce power usage on this PC

Hi

I got an old PC lying around (and collecting dust ). I was thinking whether I could still use it for something.
What I wonder is that how much power would it use, compared to todays' computer? I heard that these old processors are power hogs, consuming a lot of electricity, running up the bills. Is that true?

Either way, I want to reduce power usage to as little as possible. Please give me tips to do that. Since this is a desktop PC, I can swap out quite everything. I have several power supplies lying around, for example.

This PC would be used as a secondary computer, for quite light purposes like browsing, office work, listening to music, watching movies (not HD), just DVDs and divx. Not really gaming, maybe very old games. I know it's not powerful, it doesn't have to be. It just needs to be as energy efficent and silent as possible. Currently, it is loud as hell. (CPU fan mostly, it is running at full speed without the need - should I try speedfan? it seems to work with it, but I wanna automatize so it can spin it up when things go hot)


It has:
Code:
CURRENTLY INSTALLED:
Motherboard: ABIT VA-10
CPU: AMD Athlon XP 3000+
Memory: 1 GB DDR1 (I believe 333 Mhz) [Layout: 1 x 1 GB module, other slots free]
Graphics: ATI Radeon 9250SE AGP 128MB Dedicated (+ onboard VIA UniChrome but is not in use now)
Hard drives: 1 x 80GB Samsung ATA Drive 7200RPM

Other PCI cards:
- PCI Network card: TENDA Gigabit (because onboard network is totally fried (with cable in: it shows connected/disconnected state altering several times per every second, I couldn't even possibly pull it out and plug it back in that fast), but this one works). Again, unsure about power usage
- PCI SATA RAID Card: (Silicon Image card) -> for the possibility to install SATA drives, currently none. [B]again, unsure about power usage

Others:
Case fan
CD Drive (barely used, in 99% of uptime is idle). (does it draw any significant amount of power?)

Power supply:
Currently installed: 280W (seems to work fine)

Upgrade vectors - things I have and can plug in:
- 60 GB SSD (SATA, but I have a SATA Card already in. The computer doesn't need much storage space, of course 80GB is better but does it worth it in regards of power & speed? Do you vote for the SSD?)
- Power supply: The current one is the oldest (and used for years, I don't know if there's an aging progress for power supplies?), I have another one (about 6 or 7 years old, but barely used) 400W. If I plug it in, but leave the same parts inside, would it use more energy? (Would it use 400W? Does it always use that much power? Does it ever use it?) 280W sounds better for me but man that power supply is so run down. (but still works). I believe it was used for 7-8 hours a day, almost everyday. You can imagine how much dust it has inside


So please help me get this PC "thinner"


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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19 Jun 2015   #2
GokAy

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1
 
 

I can't answer all but here goes:

- SSD for sure, lower power req. and faster
- Use PSU with enough Wattage, it won't consume more power with a bigger Watt PSU. Consider like the top speed of a car.
- You can restrict the CPU clock to a lower value with a power plan (Control Panel - Power options)
- Possibly a low profile GPU
- Remove CD drive power cable after install or not at all.
- Remove SATA RAID card
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Jun 2015   #3
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

I don't think you have a problem. The 3000+ has an average power consumption of 65 Watts which is quite normal. Replacing the HDD with a SSD is a good idea. SSDs use very little power. You do not need a 400 Watt PSU - 250 Watt should be ample.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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19 Jun 2015   #4
ignatzatsonic

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit
 
 

Barring something unusual, the noise is coming from fans--moreso than from drives. You might even have electrical "whine" from the motherboard or power supply, unrelated to drives or fans.

Get your ears inside it and listen for noise sources.

What you can do depends on your budget. If the case is cheesy--with lots of openings and vents, thin sheet metal or mesh construction, you may still hear "quiet" fans more than you'd like.

You say it's fast enough. So, no need to change motherboard or processor.

I'd think a different PSU and probably a new/different fan on the cooler and for intakes/exhaust would solve most of the problem.

What size intake and exhaust fan mounts does that case have?

New decent case fans might cost $8 to $20 each, depending on required size.

You could get a new CPU cooler with new fan included that would likely be a lot quieter than the stock cooler for maybe $20.

Changing to an SSD would have very very little effect on power consumption--maybe 6 or 8 watts typically. Standard hard drives use under 10 watts when at full speed.

It's going to use only the power it needs, regardless of how much power the PSU can supposedly supply.

What are the brand names and model numbers of the PSUs you have at hand? Do you know if they have the appropriate connectors for your motherboard and drives?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Jun 2015   #5
Ranger4

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit sp1
 
 

Probably one of the best power saving measures is to shut down the computer when you are not using it. Also turn off the power supply at the wall as well, as leaving the power on to the computer does use a small amount of power as it is really in standby mode.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Jun 2015   #6
ish4d0w

Microsoft® Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
 
 

Thanks everyone. I'll post the brand names soon.

The 400W one is called Golden Power. I'm unsure about the ~200W supply but I'll check soon

I believe the case fan is 8cm
The case is old an "cheesy", lots of openings on the back, it generates a lot of noise. Quite basic case.

This is a 10 years old computer. Would the motherboard's capacitors be still good or would it use more power than it did before? How about the power supply? The 200W one has about 8 years uptime. Is it still as good as it was? Or would it not be power efficient anymore?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Jun 2015   #7
carwiz

Windows 7 Pro-x64
 
 

You don't say where you're located but there's an inexpensive (<$20) meter called Kill-A-Watt Electricity Monitor that you can plug in between the wall outlet and the PC (or any device up to ~1500W). It has several display options including how many watts a device is using. And if you know your rate, it will calculate the cost of electricity for that device. It would be a good control and provide a base number to work from, if you do make changes. You'll end up checking everything in the house/office like I did.

Capacitors as well as all electronic components age but they will either be good or not work at all as designed. For an Intel CPU, I recommend HWinfo32/64 to monitor temperatures and voltages on the motherboard but it's known to have a problem with AMD APUs. I'm not sure what is being recommended for AMDs but SpeedFan has always had problems with accuracy for any CPU.

I would be hesitant to change the PSW for a lower output unit. Not all power supplies are rated accurately or provide power efficiently. Check the INPUT current on the PSW. You may find a cheaper 200W could draw more power than a better 400W PSW. A PC will only use what it needs so over-supplying makes no difference. It's the same with any electrical device in your house. I have 200A service to the house but a 60W light bulb still uses only 60W.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Jun 2015   #8
ish4d0w

Microsoft® Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by carwiz View Post
You don't say where you're located but there's an inexpensive (<$20) meter called Kill-A-Watt Electricity Monitor that you can plug in between the wall outlet and the PC (or any device up to ~1500W). It has several display options including how many watts a device is using. And if you know your rate, it will calculate the cost of electricity for that device. It would be a good control and provide a base number to work from, if you do make changes. You'll end up checking everything in the house/office like I did.

Capacitors as well as all electronic components age but they will either be good or not work at all as designed. For an Intel CPU, I recommend HWinfo32/64 to monitor temperatures and voltages on the motherboard but it's known to have a problem with AMD APUs. I'm not sure what is being recommended for AMDs but SpeedFan has always had problems with accuracy for any CPU.

I would be hesitant to change the PSW for a lower output unit. Not all power supplies are rated accurately or provide power efficiently. Check the INPUT current on the PSW. You may find a cheaper 200W could draw more power than a better 400W PSW. A PC will only use what it needs so over-supplying makes no difference. It's the same with any electrical device in your house. I have 200A service to the house but a 60W light bulb still uses only 60W.
Great idea! Thanks! I will get that meter.
I'll try with the 400W then.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Jun 2015   #9
strollin

W10 Pro desktop, W10 laptop, W10 laptop, W10 Pro tablet (all 64-bit)
 
 

Putting in an ssd or swapping power supplies will have very little effect on your electric usage, maybe only enough to measure but not actually perceive in actual use.

While an ssd uses less power than an hdd, an hdd doesn't use that much power to begin with so changing to an ssd will have only minimal effect on your power bill.

Whether you have a 4000KW psu or you have a 200W psu, the components in the PC will draw the same amount of power. One psu may be more efficient than another but I doubt swapping out the psu will show any difference in your power bill.

As Ranger4 said, turn off the PC when not using it, in addition, set the display to shutoff when you're not sitting and typing. You can be very aggressive with that setting, set a low time limit such as 2 minutes.

As far as the noise, if the hdd is making any kind of mechanical noise then an ssd will help there. Switch out to quieter fans and get a variable speed fan for your cpu cooler.

If you could find someone to buy that computer, you could probably do what you want with a $35 Raspberry Pi. The Pi has no fans and only uses a 5V phone charger for power. Only caveat is that the Pi runs a version of Linux instead of Windows.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Jun 2015   #10
ignatzatsonic

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit
 
 

"Golden Power" is almost certainly a shaky power supply brand; I can't locate who actually made it. That's likely just a brand name, not a manufacturer.

Any mediocre PSU that has been in use for 8 years has a questionable prognosis. There's not much a layman can do to quiet them. Fan replacement is possible, but not the job for a typical civilian.

That's a socket 462 (socket A) motherboard, introduced about 2002. Abit was a big name at that time, but declined rapidly around 2004-2005.

AMD Athlon XP 3000+ - AXDA3000DKV4D

The CPU has a TDP of about 74 watts and was over $500 when introduced in 2003.

The entire PC isn't likely to use much power, but efficiency is the least of your worries. A 10 percent lower efficiency on a modest PC that runs 12 hours a day, 365 days a year might cost you an extra $15 per year, given average US power rates. Roughly a dollar a year per percent. More if it's running 24/7; more if it's a higher powered PC, more if you were working it hard (gaming, for instance).

Killawatts are very handy devices to have around generally for household appliances, but I don't know that I'd buy one just for this problem alone.

You'd probably find it difficult to find a new replacement for that motherboard.

Shaky case, shaky PSU, very old motherboard and CPU. Personally, I'd limit my fixes to noise-reduction--change PSUs and case fans at most. Your low-quality case with lots of openings may defeat most of your efforts.

It shouldn't use much power, but it would be tough to justify buying a new power supply--buying oats for a very old horse. Maybe use the quietest of the PSUs you have on hand, assuming they have proper connectors.

Your CPU cooler fan may be making a racket. I'm not sure you could find a new cooler for a motherboard/CPU that old, so you may be limited to fan replacement only.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Help me reduce power usage on this PC




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