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Thread: Power consumption

  1. #1
    DsW
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    Power consumption

    I'm in the process of planning what'll basically be a file server to store all my music. I want the box to consume as little power as possible since it could be on 24x7.

    The box will be headless and should sit pretty much idle most of the time except when streaming files over my 802.11g WLAN. It won't have a fancy graphics card, sound card or anything like that - just a couple of big HDDs and a minimal OS.

    The question is - are PCs quite efficient in that they generally only use what they need to?

    For example, does a higher PSU rating alone, e.g. 380W v 250W, mean that more power will be used (if all other components remain the same) or do components only use what they need?

    If anyone has any recommendations for low-power CPUs or motherboards then I would appreciate those too!

    thanks in advance

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    the power supply only takes what it needs as far as i know. are you using the comp for music encoding, or just downloading? you could always look at the VIA EPIA boards for something like that as they are very low-power.

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    DsW
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    Encoding will be done another box - so this one is purely for storage and so that my main machine doesn't need to be on all the time.

    I'll check out the EPIA boards.. thanks.

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    Components only consume what they demand. The system you describe, if left unchanged, will consume miniscule amounts of power but you should always plan for highest demand. I would suggest going for a mobile CPU and motherboard and one big HD or a smaller main HD to hold the OS and a USB HD to hold files. You could get away with a 200W PSU and still have headroom. If all you want to do is filestream you don't need a fast CPU or HD. Why not just speed up your main rig and stream from there?

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    Yes they only take what they need but not all PSUs are equal in terms of efficiency. I don't know how much difference in real world savings on your electric bill but for what it's worth this article graphs the efficiency of a whole load of PSUs under various loadings. You can atleast make an informed decision.

    http://www20.tomshardware.com/howto/...supply-38.html

    A system based on a pentium-m will consume only 22w compared with 67-115w for regular desktop CPUs.

    http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets...spx?i=2342&p=3

    You can get a socket adapter to make the pentium-m work in regular desktop motherboards. The additional upfront expense you can offset against savings in electricity but how long it takes to pay back I don't know.

    http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets...oc.aspx?i=2382

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    DsW
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    I've shyed away from using my main PC since it's a fairly high spec P4 system running XP and I was under the impression that it would be better to have a second, low power system dedicated to streaming files (saving on elec).

    Additionally, my main PC sits upstairs and the consumer of the music stream (Squeezebox 2) will be downstairs in the livingroom so it would be more convenient to site a file server down there for powering on and off in conjunction with my hi-fi.

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    I think an article focusing on the total cost of ownership including electricity usage would be quite an interesting read. Taking into account any reduction in heat gains it would be interesting to see the savings in running comfort cooling air conditioning. I think we are seeing the begining of a responsible attitude to computer energy consumption from the manufacturers particularly now that many applications don't require additional processing power.

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    i read a similar article somewhere a few months ago and it found that a standard high-end pc running 24/7 would add £40 a month to the electricity bill. currently, the organisation behind 'Energy-star' is working on a 2nd revision which will require pc component manufacturers to save energy to a far greater extent than is currently employed. this will also include a higher minimum effeicency level of psus. i may have even read this on Hexus, so appoligies if you're all familiar with that article. furthermore, buying a TFT is far more effiecient than a CRT as it requires less than half the power.

    whilst i agree with the idea of using the 'mobile' chipsets, i would think that that avenue would be too expensive for a simple file server. the VIA items i mentioned would be less expensive as well as containing basic integrated graphics and sound. just add RAM and a HDD and your away. check out www.mini-itx.com for more info on these products.

    another cheap and low-power alternative, would be to look at somewhere like www.komplett.co.uk as they do quite good bundles of older components at good prices.

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    • aidanjt's system
      • Motherboard:
      • Asus Strix Z370-G
      • CPU:
      • Intel i7-8700K
      • Memory:
      • 2x8GB Corsiar LPX 3000C15
      • Storage:
      • 500GB Samsung 960 EVO
      • Graphics card(s):
      • EVGA GTX 970 SC ACX 2.0
      • PSU:
      • EVGA G3 750W
      • Case:
      • Fractal Design Define C Mini
      • Operating System:
      • Windows 10 Pro
      • Monitor(s):
      • Asus MG279Q
      • Internet:
      • 240mbps Virgin Cable
    Basically, your talking about 8Watts per HD, CPU will be around 82Watts, that of course varies depending on what CPU you go for, add another 60Watts say for the controllers on the motherboard.. basically, a 300Watt PSU will more than serve the purpose of supplying a simple server with juice.
    Quote Originally Posted by Agent View Post
    ...every time Creative bring out a new card range their advertising makes it sound like they have discovered a way to insert a thousand Chuck Norris super dwarfs in your ears...

  10. #10
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    • oralpain's system
      • Motherboard:
      • DFI "Blood Iron" P35-T2RL
      • CPU:
      • Intel Pentium E2140 @ 400x8 (3.2GHz), 1.375v
      • Memory:
      • Crucial Ballistix DDR2 800 CL4 @ 500MHz (DDR 1000), 4-4-4-12-T2, 2.3v
      • Storage:
      • 2x Seagate ST3250410AS
      • Graphics card(s):
      • NVIDIA 8800GTS (G92) 512 @ 783MHz core, 1836MHz shader, 1053Mhz memory, stock cooling 70% fan speed
      • PSU:
      • Seasonic SS-500GB
      • Case:
      • Antec P182, with some small modifications
      • Monitor(s):
      • ASUS VW222U
      • Internet:
      • Time Warner "Road Runner" Cable - 16 megabit downstream, 1 megabit upstream
    Efficency is what you want in a PSU if you are concerned about power consumption. A 600W PSU with 80% effecency will draw less power than a 150W PSU with 70% effeceny, if the system is only using 100 watts.

    No motherboard uses 60 watts, not even ones with integrated video.

    I would get a lower end Socket 754 chip and undervolt it. My A64 3000+ will run at stock speed with only 1.15 volts. At that voltage and speed it uses about 30-35 watts at maximum load. If you underclock the CPU you could probably get away with using less than 1 volt at 800Mhz. At that speed and voltage you'd be talking about 10-15 watts going to the CPU at full load and an 800MHz A64 is more than enough for a file server.

    For the kind of system you seem to want, get a good active PFC powersupply (zippy, pc power and cooling), a quality mobo that lets you use a wide range of below stock voltages, a cheap video card, a single stick of ram, and a single large harddrive. You could easily build a PC that uses less than 60 watts total most of the time.

    AOpen A64 mobos have voltages down to 0.8v and I find them to be stable and good performers.

    Or, if you can find a decent older system you could jsut add a new hardrive and better PSU to that and be set.

  11. #11
    DsW
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    Some interesting points from everyone - much appreciated.

    I'm considering 3 options (in order of preference)

    1. SFF barebones - something like a Biostar IDEQ 210V or Shuttle SN41G2 v3 barebones together with a cheap video card and a Semperon/Duron

    2. min-ATX system based around new VIA EPIA SP m/b

    3. standard ATX system

    I'm leaning towards a SFF barebones due to it's compact size. Would I be right in saying that these would be quite energy efficient?

  12. #12
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    • oralpain's system
      • Motherboard:
      • DFI "Blood Iron" P35-T2RL
      • CPU:
      • Intel Pentium E2140 @ 400x8 (3.2GHz), 1.375v
      • Memory:
      • Crucial Ballistix DDR2 800 CL4 @ 500MHz (DDR 1000), 4-4-4-12-T2, 2.3v
      • Storage:
      • 2x Seagate ST3250410AS
      • Graphics card(s):
      • NVIDIA 8800GTS (G92) 512 @ 783MHz core, 1836MHz shader, 1053Mhz memory, stock cooling 70% fan speed
      • PSU:
      • Seasonic SS-500GB
      • Case:
      • Antec P182, with some small modifications
      • Monitor(s):
      • ASUS VW222U
      • Internet:
      • Time Warner "Road Runner" Cable - 16 megabit downstream, 1 megabit upstream
    ost SFF power supplies are of good qualkity, but other than that power consumption is really not much different than a comparable desktop.

    The VIA cpus are very low power and would be powerful enough for what you need. If the cost is equal to or cheaper than the other options go for it.

  13. #13
    YUKIKAZE arthurleung's Avatar
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    • arthurleung's system
      • Motherboard:
      • Asus P5E (Rampage Formula 0902)
      • CPU:
      • Intel Core2Quad Q9550 3.6Ghz 1.2V
      • Memory:
      • A-Data DDR2-800 2x2GB CL4
      • Storage:
      • 4x1TB WD1000FYPS @ RAID5 3Ware 9500S-8 / 3x 1TB Samsung Ecogreen F2
      • Graphics card(s):
      • GeCube HD4870 512MB
      • PSU:
      • Corsair VX450
      • Case:
      • Antec P180
      • Operating System:
      • Windows Server 2008 Standard
      • Monitor(s):
      • Dell Ultrasharp 2709W + 2001FP
      • Internet:
      • Be*Unlimited 20Mbps
    I have another suggestion:

    Buy an Asus WLAN 2.5" HDD or Buffalo NAS thing (or a bunch of them) Then you can stream over 802.11g. Hell you don't even need a computer to do that stuff.

    Asus WL-HDD 54g Wireless Harddisk Adaptor (needs any 2.5" HDD) £42.50 £49.94 from SCAN
    Workstation 1: Intel i7 950 @ 3.8Ghz / X58 / 12GB DDR3-1600 / HD4870 512MB / Antec P180
    Workstation 2: Intel C2Q Q9550 @ 3.6Ghz / X38 / 4GB DDR2-800 / 8400GS 512MB / Open Air
    Workstation 3: Intel Xeon X3350 @ 3.2Ghz / P35 / 4GB DDR2-800 / HD4770 512MB / Shuttle SP35P2
    HTPC: AMD Athlon X4 620 @ 2.6Ghz / 780G / 4GB DDR2-1000 / Antec Mini P180 White
    Mobile Workstation: Intel C2D T8300 @ 2.4Ghz / GM965 / 3GB DDR2-667 / DELL Inspiron 1525 / 6+6+9 Cell Battery

    Display (Monitor): DELL Ultrasharp 2709W + DELL Ultrasharp 2001FP
    Display (Projector): Epson TW-3500 1080p
    Speakers: Creative Megaworks THX550 5.1
    Headphones: Etymotic hf2 / Ultimate Ears Triple.fi 10 Pro

    Storage: 8x2TB Hitachi @ DELL PERC 6/i RAID6 / 13TB Non-RAID Across 12 HDDs
    Consoles: PS3 Slim 120GB / Xbox 360 Arcade 20GB / PS2

  14. #14
    DsW
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    Yeah - the only problem is that I need to run a server process (SlimServer - Windows/Linux/Mac) - hence the need for a cutdown OS.

    I believe that LinkStations can be made to run it (since they run minimal OS) but to be honest I really want a box that will take minimum 2x3.5" HDDs to allow for future expansion.

    Found this case (http://www.xcase.co.uk/acatalog/Comp...x_Desktop.html) that seems like it might be upto the job coupled with a VIA SP m/b and efficient PSU.

  15. #15
    YUKIKAZE arthurleung's Avatar
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    • arthurleung's system
      • Motherboard:
      • Asus P5E (Rampage Formula 0902)
      • CPU:
      • Intel Core2Quad Q9550 3.6Ghz 1.2V
      • Memory:
      • A-Data DDR2-800 2x2GB CL4
      • Storage:
      • 4x1TB WD1000FYPS @ RAID5 3Ware 9500S-8 / 3x 1TB Samsung Ecogreen F2
      • Graphics card(s):
      • GeCube HD4870 512MB
      • PSU:
      • Corsair VX450
      • Case:
      • Antec P180
      • Operating System:
      • Windows Server 2008 Standard
      • Monitor(s):
      • Dell Ultrasharp 2709W + 2001FP
      • Internet:
      • Be*Unlimited 20Mbps
    I'm wondering if you can compile the server process into a Xscale Linux package. Get a cheap PDA with 802.11b/g and Compact Flash slot, slap in a CF->USBx2 card and stick in 2 3.5" USB HDDs. You can use the PDA when you're out and use it as fileserver at home. Power usage will be lower than VIA mini-itx stuff.

    It may cost too much to get started though. (Actually may be the same or less than a SFF.)
    Workstation 1: Intel i7 950 @ 3.8Ghz / X58 / 12GB DDR3-1600 / HD4870 512MB / Antec P180
    Workstation 2: Intel C2Q Q9550 @ 3.6Ghz / X38 / 4GB DDR2-800 / 8400GS 512MB / Open Air
    Workstation 3: Intel Xeon X3350 @ 3.2Ghz / P35 / 4GB DDR2-800 / HD4770 512MB / Shuttle SP35P2
    HTPC: AMD Athlon X4 620 @ 2.6Ghz / 780G / 4GB DDR2-1000 / Antec Mini P180 White
    Mobile Workstation: Intel C2D T8300 @ 2.4Ghz / GM965 / 3GB DDR2-667 / DELL Inspiron 1525 / 6+6+9 Cell Battery

    Display (Monitor): DELL Ultrasharp 2709W + DELL Ultrasharp 2001FP
    Display (Projector): Epson TW-3500 1080p
    Speakers: Creative Megaworks THX550 5.1
    Headphones: Etymotic hf2 / Ultimate Ears Triple.fi 10 Pro

    Storage: 8x2TB Hitachi @ DELL PERC 6/i RAID6 / 13TB Non-RAID Across 12 HDDs
    Consoles: PS3 Slim 120GB / Xbox 360 Arcade 20GB / PS2

  16. #16
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    SFFs are good, but be warned, they are not as quiet as people expect them to be. if silence is something you want, then the ITX way might be better. if you do want SFF and can budget for it, Aopen do a Pentium M based X-cube that might be worth a look.

    i've just picked up this months PC Pro, and it as a nice article about building an ITX based jukebox, similar to what you are looking at, and also discusses low power consumption techniques. certainly worth buying.

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