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Thread: Low power computer

  1. #1
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    Low power computer

    I've just started to do a complete review of my power usage at home, and found my workstation (Dell Precision 490 + 3.75TB of disk) is burning upto 200w and this represents around 30-50% of my daily power usage as it's on 24x7.

    Considering for 90% of the time, all this runs is, MDaemon, Motorola Homesight (including potentially 320x240 video window), Homeseer (X10 home automation), a dedicated app to allow Homesight and Homeseer to communicate and an Ebay sniping tool, I'm thinking this could reasonably easily be replaced by a mini-itx system and pay for itself within a couple of years.

    I've been looking around, the new Nano and Atoms look good, due to the performance, but I'm concerned that I'm still going to burn 40w+ and maybe I don't need the performance.

    What would people recommend, my requirements are:

    1) Low power consumption
    2) Performance good enough to run my mailserver and a few small apps. I used to run most of these apps on a P4 2.6GHz CPU so anything roughly equivalent would do.
    3) Gigabit network.
    4) Ideally it must have at least one serial port
    5) I want the price to be <£200, ideally, although I guess for the right system, money isn't going to be a major issue.

    Things I don't care so much about

    1) Noise - it's never going in the lounge, so doesn't matter.
    2) Size - irrelevant as there's plenty of space in my office
    3) Looks, it will be hidden under a desk so can be as ugly as they come, no-one will see it.

    I'm wondering if a C7 CPU would be up to this and if the power consumption of one of these is very much lower than the atom. The atom looks interesting as the price is almost disposable if it turns out it's not up to the job.

    thanks

    mike

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    finding nemo staffsMike's Avatar
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    Re: Low power computer

    Have a read of this
    http://www.silentpcreview.com/article865-page1.html

    Might be worth your time.

    Would a laptop do the job? Naturally low power, especially centrino years or later

    I suppose the other thing to be carful with is the efficency of the power supply, I'm not sure how miniITX stacks up in this respect.

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    Re: Low power computer

    Quote Originally Posted by staffsMike View Post
    Have a read of this
    http://www.silentpcreview.com/article865-page1.html

    Might be worth your time.

    Would a laptop do the job? Naturally low power, especially centrino years or later

    I suppose the other thing to be carful with is the efficency of the power supply, I'm not sure how miniITX stacks up in this respect.
    Thanks for the link.

    I'd considered the laptop route, especially since an old Dell inspiron run most of this stuff for years before giving up the ghost. The problem these days is getting one with a serial port, and this is quite a critical component as my home automation interface is unreliable when using a usb to serial converter. An Atom based N270 might fit the bill well, if only the serial port was there.

    mike

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    Re: Low power computer

    Pretty sure this has a serial port as do all latitudes of the time.

    http://www.bigpockets.co.uk/product....roduct=solv015

    They have a few refurbs available.
    http://www.bigpockets.co.uk/cat.php?...d+Laptops&nav=

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    Re: Low power computer

    I would certainly look at the earlier Pentium M CPUs, low in power and gives u the equivalent of your current P4, plus the advantage of easily OC if you ever need the extra oomph and it has the Speed Step feature which will tune down your CPU if the system does not require it, further reducing the power consumption. Also consider some of the AMD Athlon XPs, there are some energy efficient ones, plus look out for mobos with IGP, saving u further power.

    I'm currently running my server with a Pentium M 1.83ghz with 2Gb memory, this is currently running as my media server, running a virtual PC of Win2K3 server and bittorrent client. Although not running as many apps as you do, it does whiz about with anything I throw at it.

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    Re: Low power computer

    Atom CPUs have a TDP of 4W you will not find a mini-ITX processor which will use less power the problem comes from the chipset which in most cases is a 945 which can consume a bit more power you would still be looking at a total system of about 60W at most though which is about 25&#37; of your current setup also the atoms are so much cheaper than any thing else available in the form factor they really do make sense.

    The Gigabyte atom board has a serial port as well
    http://scan.co.uk/Product.aspx?WebProductId=847366

    Edit:

    Found this Jetway board as well which has serial and parallel ports as well Link as does Intels own offering Link those are not necessarily the cheapest prices but just where I looked and they had decent pictures
    Last edited by Webby; 05-09-2008 at 01:08 PM.

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    Re: Low power computer

    People have measured the actual current draw of systems with an E7200, 2GB RAM, notebook HDD and optical and it's not more than 45W idle and 90W peak. This is with the G45 chipset. I guess undervolting the processor also helps if your motherboard supports such options

    IMHO the performance of Atom is disappointing if you use it as an everday computer that you would run MS Office or OpenOffice on. Perhaps a low power Athlon BE or Core 2 Duo 45nm would serve the purpose better ...

    I have an old 975X that runs an E6600 oc'ed to 3.0 GHz, the power draw with a 7800GTX when idle is around 150W. Switching to an 8800GTS ( older version ) causes it to go to around 200W idle. I think I use the 3D power maybe once in a month, when I actually play some game.

    So the best way out is to

    a. Get a really effcient power supply in the correct range ( Not a 600W if you will use only 250W )
    b. Get a 45nm Intel processor or the Athlon BE range
    c. Use integrated graphics ( AMD 780G, G45, GF 8200 )
    d. Dont go for quad core if you dont need 4 cores
    e. Dont use green power or 5400 rpm drives ... use a more efficient drive like Spinpoint F1 or similar, the difference in power is a couple of watts but the difference in performance is 10% or more

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    Re: Low power computer

    Anand benchies on power draw.

    Note the lowest they had in this test (on idle) was an AMD dual core on Nvidia 8200 chipset at 50W. That would be quite a capable and cheap system too.

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