VOGONS


Dealing with energy consumption of old hardware

Topic actions

First post, by Akuma

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member

The consumption of old hardware has become less desirable, now that energy costs are increasing. I'm just curious how people are dealing with this or have any good solutions. I think we can all benefit from some good advice.

Reply 2 of 80, by RandomStranger

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

May retro PCs are not in daily use unless I actively playing something on one. A couple of hours once or twice a week won't break the bank. They consume much less power than my modern PC.

sreq.png retrogamer-s.png

Reply 3 of 80, by DerBaum

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member

You could use more efficient power supplies… But I don’t know if it’s worth the money for the new supplies and modding the old hardware just to save some cents.
I just disconnect everything after using so it doesn’t use standby power. And I use TFT displays instead of CRTs.

Last edited by DerBaum on 2022-08-05, 08:13. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 4 of 80, by 386SX

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t

As already said a 80486 or 80386 machine with a not modern (less efficiency) old style PSU should be around 50-60 watts of power demand (which is permanent), less than modern ones beside notebooks. And I don't think those old PC would be powered everydays and all the time. Different thing is a late XP Barton or Pentium 4 or Pentium D PC which can easily with the time correct components pass the 200 watts level depending on the video card too. But imho the factor to consider is the time the config will be powered compared to any other digital devices in the house like a big TV display.

I usually try to optimize the configs for the realistic usage they are built for with a possible "on-demand" power saving logic sometimes not configured by itself at first. But also more modern configs beside gaming can often easily live with a iGPU instead of a PCI-EX one. Also LCD monitors (instead of the good old CRT ones) might have (or not) some power demand saving logic decreasing brightness. I'm using a 15" LCD that has a brightness level from 0 to 100 (which is equal to like 40% to 100% of backlight power) that decrease a lot its power usage, like from 40 watts to 15 watts and is still totally usable and visible.

Last edited by 386SX on 2022-08-05, 08:39. Edited 2 times in total.

Reply 5 of 80, by konc

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

Powering up an old pc to play your favorite game for 2 hours during the weekend won't hurt your bill.
But a rack of old servers operating 24/7 just "to put them into good use" is not a wise decision anymore and will have an impact.

Reply 6 of 80, by TrashPanda

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t
konc wrote on 2022-08-05, 08:23:

Powering up an old pc to play your favorite game for 2 hours during the weekend won't hurt your bill.
But a rack of old servers operating 24/7 just "to put them into good use" is not a wise decision anymore and will have an impact.

Umm how many of us are actually doing that ?

I have one file server and even though its a P4 its not even worth worrying about in relation to power costs .. I have so many other devices that consume more . .such as my Daily PC with its 3080ti and 10980Xe .. both of which are high power devices on their own ...and no my main PC never gets shutdown or turned off unless Windows does it for updates.

I dont worry about power usage from retro hardware, its measured in cents which doesnt impact my bill enough to matter.

Oh noes, the cap let the shmooo out 😁

Reply 7 of 80, by 386SX

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t

I think also nowdays energy bill would be high even basically not powering any device in the house which still is the only choice the user has but at the end 2/3 of the bill is usually not completely a user variable choice.
Which doesn't mean that the user can't do something to at least decrease the first 1/3 of the bill as much as possible. Things like portable air conditioners and similar devices that should be used only when needed and asking if needed when they can ask for 1200 watts easily and for hours.

Last edited by 386SX on 2022-08-05, 08:55. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 8 of 80, by konc

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie
TrashPanda wrote on 2022-08-05, 08:44:
konc wrote on 2022-08-05, 08:23:

Powering up an old pc to play your favorite game for 2 hours during the weekend won't hurt your bill.
But a rack of old servers operating 24/7 just "to put them into good use" is not a wise decision anymore and will have an impact.

Umm how many of us are actually doing that ?

Yeah not many I suppose. I was trying to make the point that unless you do something similar, you don't really need to worry about playing some games.

Reply 9 of 80, by TrashPanda

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t
konc wrote on 2022-08-05, 08:53:
TrashPanda wrote on 2022-08-05, 08:44:
konc wrote on 2022-08-05, 08:23:

Powering up an old pc to play your favorite game for 2 hours during the weekend won't hurt your bill.
But a rack of old servers operating 24/7 just "to put them into good use" is not a wise decision anymore and will have an impact.

Umm how many of us are actually doing that ?

Yeah not many I suppose. I was trying to make the point that unless you do something similar, you don't really need to worry about playing some games.

Im actually more concerned with the direction both AMD and nVidia are taking GPUs .. the 4090 is looking like a 800watt behemoth no idea what the 4090ti will draw but I wont be surprised if its clear of 1Kw. AMD is a bit better as they do realise that GPU power draw cannot keep climbing and 1Kw Halo GPUs are just unreasonable even for the whales out there, so they have focused on power efficiency and apparently their next GPUs will be more powerful without increasing their current draw of ~300 - 400 watts.

They are also doing MCM rather than monolithic like nVidia which should help efficiency as they can power down the GPU core not being used.

1Kw GPUs honestly worry me ...modern PCs already have heat issues with 450watt GPUs no idea how 1Kw GPUs will be cooled.

Last edited by TrashPanda on 2022-08-05, 09:16. Edited 1 time in total.

Oh noes, the cap let the shmooo out 😁

Reply 10 of 80, by Nemo1985

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

As someone already said I wouldn't bother for the power consumption of retrostuff... 386 and 486 hardly reach 80 watt, pentium systems hardly get over 100 watt.
With newer stuff things can be different (let's say from p4-athlon xp era), since they were hungry and heat monsters.
I noticed that upgrading the psu from a cheapo seasonic non plus to a EVGA bronze my power consumption went from 110w to 80w, that with the very same hardware, just switched the psu.

TrashPanda wrote on 2022-08-05, 09:15:

Im actually more concerned with the direction both AMD and nVidia are taking GPUs .. the 4090 is looking like a 800watt behemoth no idea what the 4090ti will draw but I wont be surprised if its clear of 1Kw. AMD is a bit better as they do realise that GPU power draw cannot keep climbing and 1Kw Halo GPUs are just unreasonable even for the whales out there, so they have improved upon power efficiency and apparently their next GPUs will be more powerful without increasing their current draw.

They are also doing MCM rather than monolithic like nVidia which should help efficiency as they can power down the GPU core not being used.

1Kw GPUs honestly worry me ...modern PCs already have heat issues with 450watt GPUs no idea how 1Kw GPUs will be cooled.

That is something I fully agree... I noticed that going from the gtx 1060 6gb to rx 580 the first had a 8 pin connector, the second a 6+8, now I switched to a 6700xt and it has 8+8.
Unlucky it seems that according to amd and nvidia it's more important the pure performance than the performance per watt.
Another problem with nvidia is the transient power spikes, they do that and they will do that even worse with the next generation:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnRyyCsuHFQ

Last edited by Nemo1985 on 2022-08-05, 09:19. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 11 of 80, by TrashPanda

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t
Nemo1985 wrote on 2022-08-05, 09:16:

As someone already said I wouldn't bother for the power consumption of retrostuff... 386 and 486 hardly reach 80 watt, pentium systems hardly get over 100 watt.
With newer stuff things can be different (let's say from p4-athlon xp era), since they were hungry and heat monsters.
I noticed that upgrading the psu from a cheapo seasonic non plus to a EVGA bronze my power consumption went from 110w to 80w, that with the very same hardware, just switched the psu.

Modern ATX PSUs are exceptionally efficient much more so than the crusty old ATX PSUs from the P4 era where a lot of power was lost to heat and inefficiency.

Oh noes, the cap let the shmooo out 😁

Reply 12 of 80, by Nemo1985

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie
TrashPanda wrote on 2022-08-05, 09:17:
Nemo1985 wrote on 2022-08-05, 09:16:

As someone already said I wouldn't bother for the power consumption of retrostuff... 386 and 486 hardly reach 80 watt, pentium systems hardly get over 100 watt.
With newer stuff things can be different (let's say from p4-athlon xp era), since they were hungry and heat monsters.
I noticed that upgrading the psu from a cheapo seasonic non plus to a EVGA bronze my power consumption went from 110w to 80w, that with the very same hardware, just switched the psu.

Modern ATX PSUs are exceptionally efficient much more so than the crusty old ATX PSUs from the P4 era where a lot of power was lost to heat and inefficiency.

That's for sure, but I still remember that my athlon xp machine back in time needed a huge copper heatsink plus delta fan (in which I put a finger, once), lucky enough things has gone better since athlon 64 and the cool and quiet.

Reply 13 of 80, by 386SX

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t

The problem with the Athlon XP as known is their power demand (which weren't really high compared to others highest end cpu) remains mostly fixed at the highest value with a less than 20 watts difference from idle to full cpu usage or something like that. Usually a Barton 3200+ config run from 95 watts to 120 watts with a passive low end AGP 4x/8x video card and dual DDR DIMMS but mostly loaded on the well known low voltage PSU rail, and PSUs that had not much efficiency too. With the Prescott Pentium 4 or even the Pentium D I've seen higher values but at least there was the on demand logic possible for both clocks and voltages, reducing a lot the idle power demand. Also disabling the HyperThreading features decreased a lot the final power demand.

Reply 14 of 80, by TrashPanda

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t
386SX wrote on 2022-08-05, 09:31:

The problem with the Athlon XP as known is their power demand (which weren't really high compared to others highest end cpu) remains mostly fixed at the highest value with a less than 20 watts difference from idle to full cpu usage or something like that. Usually a Barton 3200+ config run from 95 watts to 120 watts with a passive low end AGP 4x/8x video card and dual DDR DIMMS but mostly loaded on the well known low voltage PSU rail, and PSUs that had not much efficiency too. With the Prescott Pentium 4 or even the Pentium D I've seen higher values but at least there was the on demand logic possible for both clocks and voltages, reducing a lot the idle power demand. Also disabling the HyperThreading features decreased a lot the final power demand.

I've learned recently that the motherboard has a lot to do with what PSU you can use with Athlon XP systems, if the board has the P4 4pin power connector then you can use any high amp +12v ATX PSU you want as the board will use 12v, if it doesnt have the 4pin P4 connector then you are stuck with the highest +5v Amperage PSU you can find, usually you want +30Amps on the +5v rail for a 3200 Barton more if you want to load it up and OC the snot out of it.

Oh noes, the cap let the shmooo out 😁

Reply 15 of 80, by 386SX

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t
TrashPanda wrote on 2022-08-05, 09:38:
386SX wrote on 2022-08-05, 09:31:

The problem with the Athlon XP as known is their power demand (which weren't really high compared to others highest end cpu) remains mostly fixed at the highest value with a less than 20 watts difference from idle to full cpu usage or something like that. Usually a Barton 3200+ config run from 95 watts to 120 watts with a passive low end AGP 4x/8x video card and dual DDR DIMMS but mostly loaded on the well known low voltage PSU rail, and PSUs that had not much efficiency too. With the Prescott Pentium 4 or even the Pentium D I've seen higher values but at least there was the on demand logic possible for both clocks and voltages, reducing a lot the idle power demand. Also disabling the HyperThreading features decreased a lot the final power demand.

I've learned recently that the motherboard has a lot to do with what PSU you can use with Athlon XP systems, if the board has the P4 4pin power connector then you can use any high amp +12v ATX PSU you want as the board will use 12v, if it doesnt have the 4pin P4 connector then you are stuck with the highest +5v Amperage PSU you can find, usually you want +30Amps on the +5v rail for a 3200 Barton more if you want to load it up and OC the snot out of it.

That's something I was wondering too in the past that I'd like to test. How much of the total power demand the +12v 4pin rail is used and how much from the usual +5v 20pin ATX rail in those lasst good Athlon XP mainboards with the 4pin connector. Because I wonder if anyway the +5v rail was still heavily used or only partially on those +12v mainboard logic. Did anyone test this?

Reply 16 of 80, by Ydee

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member
Akuma wrote on 2022-08-05, 07:50:

The consumption of old hardware has become less desirable, now that energy costs are increasing. I'm just curious how people are dealing with this or have any good solutions. I think we can all benefit from some good advice.

Umm, how i deal with this? I simply have no build with P4 Extreme Edition, that's it. 😀

Reply 17 of 80, by TrashPanda

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t
Ydee wrote on 2022-08-05, 10:05:
Akuma wrote on 2022-08-05, 07:50:

The consumption of old hardware has become less desirable, now that energy costs are increasing. I'm just curious how people are dealing with this or have any good solutions. I think we can all benefit from some good advice.

Umm, how i deal with this? I simply have no build with P4 Extreme Edition, that's it. 😀

🤣 the P4 EE isnt really that power heavy, I have modern CPUs that use more at stock clocks .. now if it was heat we were discussing then you have a point 😁

Oh noes, the cap let the shmooo out 😁

Reply 18 of 80, by TrashPanda

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t
386SX wrote on 2022-08-05, 09:52:
TrashPanda wrote on 2022-08-05, 09:38:
386SX wrote on 2022-08-05, 09:31:

The problem with the Athlon XP as known is their power demand (which weren't really high compared to others highest end cpu) remains mostly fixed at the highest value with a less than 20 watts difference from idle to full cpu usage or something like that. Usually a Barton 3200+ config run from 95 watts to 120 watts with a passive low end AGP 4x/8x video card and dual DDR DIMMS but mostly loaded on the well known low voltage PSU rail, and PSUs that had not much efficiency too. With the Prescott Pentium 4 or even the Pentium D I've seen higher values but at least there was the on demand logic possible for both clocks and voltages, reducing a lot the idle power demand. Also disabling the HyperThreading features decreased a lot the final power demand.

I've learned recently that the motherboard has a lot to do with what PSU you can use with Athlon XP systems, if the board has the P4 4pin power connector then you can use any high amp +12v ATX PSU you want as the board will use 12v, if it doesnt have the 4pin P4 connector then you are stuck with the highest +5v Amperage PSU you can find, usually you want +30Amps on the +5v rail for a 3200 Barton more if you want to load it up and OC the snot out of it.

That's something I was wondering too in the past that I'd like to test. How much of the total power demand the +12v 4pin rail is used and how much from the usual +5v 20pin ATX rail in those lasst good Athlon XP mainboards with the 4pin connector. Because I wonder if anyway the +5v rail was still heavily used or only partially on those +12v mainboard logic. Did anyone test this?

not that I'm aware of, it would for sure be interesting to see the results of. Im not the one to do this however as I dont have a big Athlon XP collection and the board I have loves its +5v rail .. the bigger the better.

What I would love to see is an adaptor that can take a sata power connector and boost the +5v line of ATX PSUs with weak +5v rails. Think of a breakout board the Sata and 20 pin ATX power connectors plug into that has a ATX pigtail on it for output to the motherboard. I think a simple convertor should be able to step down the 12v sata connector to 5v and take both that voltage along with the +5v rail voltage step up the AMPs and provide a stronger +5v rail for output.

Not sure how possible such a device would be but it would solve the issue of weak +5v rails, could even a provide -5v rail too. (Perhaps even with a AT pigtail it could let a ATX PSU power an AT setup)

Oh noes, the cap let the shmooo out 😁

Reply 19 of 80, by held

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie

I use an energy logger similar to this one , put in the tariff data and out rolls the consumption and cost:

voltcraft-energy-logger-4000.jpg
Filename
voltcraft-energy-logger-4000.jpg
File size
41.27 KiB
Views
729 views
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception

( although I use it for other purposes than retro-computing )