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Eco Gamer - Energy Efficient PC Gaming Info, Tips and Guides

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AMD Radeon HD7750 Efficiency Analysis

I have had the Sapphire Radeon HD7750 for a few days now and the testing is now complete, but is it as efficient for gaming as I had hoped?

This graphics card is the lowest of the ATi HD7000 series cards released for preview so far, and is considered to be a mainstream gaming card, the previews of it throughout the internet have highlighted it as a low power card, but I wanted to see the affect that it would have on the already efficient gaming system.

Limiting Frame Rate for Efficiency

We have looked into the affects of enabling V-sync which limits the frame rate of a game to 60 and got some great efficiency results, but what are the effects of limiting it to a lower rate?

Unless you have a very capable gaming system; enabling v-sync in all games will not be an option for you as the latest games will likely already be running below 60 frames per second. This is where imposing a lower rate should become key for Eco Gaming; as with the right software you can set the rate to what you are personally comfortable with and still get great energy saving results.

Energy Efficiency and V-sync

The first investigation on Eco Gamer was a look into the effect that using V-sync has on power consumption, and since the Intel G850 upgrade and the resulting performance boost; I think it is time to look at v-sync again.

Rather than a comparison between the two sets of results, this is a new look into the possibilities which I hope will be easier to understand than the original (graphs and charts make all the difference) and will also list the efficiency percentages.

Intel Pentium G850 Efficiency Analysis

I have already expressed my expectations on the Intel Pentium G850 processor, but how will it stack up against the trusty old AMD Athlon X3?

I knew at the beginning that the G850 would consume far less energy than the Athlon X3 at stock clocks and voltages, though I was unsure of how it would fare against the X3 with power saving measures in place. For this reason, I will be concentrating my efforts on not only new vs. old, but also on new vs. the tweaked old.

Hard Drive Consumption Analysis (SSD)

There is usually only one reason that people get excited about Solid State Drives (SSDs) which is of course the speed boosts that they can deliver. There are some circles that like the idea of the silence that can be achieved without mechanical spinning drives.

Though when I first heard of SSDs it was not only the performance boost but also the power consumption savings that should be possible that put one firmly on my Christmas list.

Eco PC Gaming - Undervolting ATi GPU

I have looked into undervolting AMD processors, and this proved to be a very good method of increasing energy efficiency, so now I am turning my attention to my graphics card.

It is clear that the single most power hungry component in the PC is the ATi HD5770 with 172w being used for the GPU load versus 90w for the CPU. It is this massive 80w extra that I will be looking to reduce in my next few investigations.

In researching the possibilities for undervolting, I found an article on Tom's Hardware for Curbing Your GPU's Power Use; in which the ATi HD5770 is used as a target for higher-end cards consumption to be reduced to. Today I will be pushing the 5770 to a lower voltage while trying not to affect it's performance and will be concentrating on the savings for gaming only.

Reduce Consumption of your Monitor

A monitor is of course an integral part of a PC when gaming, though I have not yet considered it as a candidate for increasing energy efficiency, and so I have decided to investigate further.

There was one thing that I was almost certain of before starting; that reducing the brightness will also reduce the power consumption of your screen, though to what degree was unclear and so this will be the focus of this investigation.

Along with the brightness, I have tried many different settings to see which of them affect the energy consumption of monitors, and have found that the only one actually to have an effect is in fact the brightness.

Eco PC Gaming - Progress So Far

Over the past few weeks I have been engaging in Eco Investigations in a bid to discover the best ways to increase the energy efficiency of my PC while playing games.

This is my first 'Progress so far' piece since I started my energy saving mission (and indeed this website), and I must say that I am very pleased with the results so far and really feel that it is time to recap what have been achieved in the past few months.

I have looked into ways of increasing energy efficiency without compromising performance in several ways, most were free but time consuming and one cost me some money but was a 'quick win'. I have singled out the methods that were effective and have compiled them together into my normal gaming routine.

Eco PC Gaming - PSU Upgrade (80PLUS)

I have been using an emergency power supply with no 80PLUS rating after I blew my last one, and have been meaning to replace it with an 80PLUS PSU for some time, but how much of a difference to energy efficiency will this upgrade bring?

The introduction of 80PLUS power supply standard a few years ago has lead to a shift towards more efficient power supplies as companies strive to adhere to the standard of 80% efficiency, more information on this standard can be found here.

Before buying the replacement XFX PRO450W PSU I had read reviews which reported an 85-87% efficiency at any load, which puts it in the 80PLUS 'Silver' rated standard rather than the 'Bronze' rated which is stated on the box. This made it a great excuse to see the savings that can be made in upgrading to a more efficient unit.

Eco PC Gaming - CPU Underclocking

Overclocking PC components is a common method of getting more from what you have, where the clock speed and voltage are increased so that greater performance can be achieved, underclocking is the opposite of this. Here I hope to discover if it is a viable method for increasing the energy efficiency of a PC for gaming.

In my last investigation I looked into CPU under-volting at standard clock speeds and the results were encouraging, so I have now been trying to see if reducing the clocks along with the voltage will yield even better results.

I wanted to get an idea of what happens if you go to the rock bottom of clock speeds, this turned out to be 800Mhz, though I observed a 47% reduction in performance which was far below acceptable frame rates and so under-volting at this level would be a pointless exercise.