Improving the Energy Efficiency of Gaming PCs Could Save $18 Billion by 2020

Detail of blade server systemThere are multiple way to make your home more energy efficient. You can replace poor quality windows to save 10-20% on heating energy. You can cut annual heating bills by as much as 10% per year by turning your thermostat back 15% for eight hours per day.

And believe it or not, you can adjust your gaming PC.

A new study published in the journal Energy Efficiency looks at how much energy gaming PCs use, and found that with some adjustments, about $18 billion of saving per year could be made by 2020.

“It’s remarkable that there’s such a huge overlooked source of energy use right under our noses,” said co-author and Berkeley Lab researcher Evan Mills. “The energy community has been looking at ordinary personal computers and consoles for a long time, but this variant, the gaming computer, is a very different animal.”

Of course, gaming PCs consume way more energy than the normal desktop or even the average gaming console. According to the study, gaming PCs represent 2.5% of the global PC equipment base (including consoles), but using 21% of the power. A typical gaming PC uses about 1,400 kWh per year, six times that of a standard PC and 10 times that of a console like an Xbox or PlayStation.

“Your average gaming computer is like three refrigerators,” said Mills. “When we use a computer to look at our email or tend our Facebook pages, the processor isn’t working hard at all. But when you’re gaming, the processor is screaming. Plus, the power draw at that peak load is much higher and the amount of time spent in that mode is much greater than on a standard PC.”
In order to reduce the sheer amount of energy gaming PCs use, the study authors suggest a simple solution: use more energy efficient components.

Researchers tested a number of power supply units, central processing units, graphics processing units, motherboards, displays, laptops, and RAM. One test used a base system, and then added a number of improved components incrementally. It showed that with only a minor drop in performance, energy efficiency could be significantly improved.

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