Low Power Consumption Rigs

I’ve been looking around to purchase a small (shuttle sized) low powered rig. I’ve mentioned it before but seriously looked at the options now. Espcially as the A64 is going to be run as a server. I feel whilst it’s being used as a houshold file server, it’s best to not use and get a small PC to use.

Even constructed an Excel sheet to compare.
[Here](http://drezha.no-ip.org/files/PC Comparisons.xls) if interested.

From looking around, a low power system capable of burning data, uni work, internet and watching films seems to cost about £400.

I wasn’t sure what the power draw on my AMD 64 3500+ was but I assumed it was ~200W whilst at 100%, possibly even 250W taking into effciency of the PSU.

The two that stand out are powered by 80W external power bricks. This is the Mac Mini and the Via CPU machine I was going to build myself (which is supposdely 18W for the CPU and mobo!! Idle no doubt…)

The Mac’s about £50 more expensive but comes with some nice extras (Wireless) but I feel I may struggle using it for Uni work. (Paying extra for a Word compatible office suite or not?) Any thoughts?

The other two consist of other Mini-itx boards with VIA CPUs but have larger HD’s (3.5" not laptop drives) and regular CD drives and powered off 200W PSU’s. Whats the likely comsunmption of these?

Is the custom one I have planned seem like the best option if I want to run Linux and have a low power (possibly quiet) system? It does leave some extra room to add a PCI or my liking etc but the CD drive is extortion! £85!! Fairly sure I could get an external DVD/CD drive for cheaper!

Another option was a shuttle but I wasn’t sure what the least power consuming chips were these days… Any ideas?

Lowest power, typically low performance: Via mini-itx family. You’ll probably get change from 20W on the mobo + CPU.
Shuttles tend to be no different from equivalent bigger form factor relatives in power.
Look into the so called MODT family. Mobile CPU used on desktop. Works out expensive, but probably gives best performance/power ratio.
Low end desktop will be cheapest, not slowest, not lowest power. Consider underclocking/undervolting if the CPU power isn’t needed.

underclocking & undervolting is an option have done that with my shuttle in the past when heat issues have been a problem being near a radiator.

As it stands my Shuttle with a 2500 Barton and AGP Nvidia 7800 gs oc is running stock + 2 HDD & DVD-RW off a industrial style 200W PSU designed to high temp enviroments.

So that’s a processor at 68Watts.

Remember that a function of consumed power is effected not only by voltage but also processor freqency so reducing both will cut the power dramatically.

If gfx are not important then there’s quite a few option open to you.

Look into the so called MODT family. Mobile CPU used on desktop. Works out expensive, but probably gives best performance/power ratio.
Low end desktop will be cheapest, not slowest, not lowest power. Consider underclocking/undervolting if the CPU power isn’t needed.[/QUOTE]

We talking Celeron, Semperon, Duron, AM2, Pentium M here?

Had a look round. AM2 seems to be lowish power…An AM2 3500+ uses 45W. But a Athlon 64 X2 3800+ Windsor core uses 35W :eek: Which seems a bit odd. That way I’d get low power and some decent performance. Shame the seem as rare as rocking horse poo. I’m getting this from the Wiki

Trouble is if I buy a low end system, it’s likely to come in a mobo that wont like being touched from defaults at all, if it’s anything like the boards I’ve tried before that came in ready built machines.

Most it really has to do is play a film. I’m sorely tempted by a VIA board if only because they are so tiny.

Remember that there are difference in the memory the std athlon x2 is DDR
where as the AM2 is DDR2 so thre’s power differences there as well.

The x2 3800 is a low power chip but I think I could be wrong that its 35w max thermal load per core… still it men’t to idle with cool & quite on at 11watts

Looking around the AMD users website, there was some talk of it. Basically it’s really hard to get hold of unless your name is “Dell”…

Also just looked at trying to run Ubuntu from a CF drive plugged into a CF->IDE adapter but a 4Gb CF is £60 and an 8Gb is £120! :frowning: Maybe not…

For MODT or standard desktop?

MODT high end would be dominated by merom (basically low power conroe), but you can go as low as you like. You’ll get high performance/watt at the cost of low price/performance. Only really a consideration if you want high CPU performance at low energy usage.

Regular desktop CPU wise, anything goes. Just get the cheapest low end AMD that’ll do the job.

Oh, when it comes to the Via boards, the performance does really suck compared to AMD/Intel. It’ll struggle to do mpeg4 in software only if CPU <1 GHz. Forget HD content.

Don’t know if this will help make up your mind, but I have a digital power meter on the mains supply to one of my x2 3800’s.

Right now, it’s drawing 170W under full load (obviously!) o/c’d at 2.5G and with elevated VCore.

Turning off the F@H client takes it down to 110W. Taking it down to stock settings reduces that still further to 90W.

It’s running onboard shared gfx, with 1GB DDR 400, and a few extra fans to help the cooling.

Must dash…gotta set up the O/C again and re-load the SMP client hehehe;)

Cheers Nightlord.
Thats quite helpful. Still quite a lot of power though. Thats 0.170kWh.

Is that to decode the film?
I don’t really require HD content as I’ve nothing that it’ll show it in HD.

That’s at an elevated speed and Voltage and hence quite a power jump over normal.

Default is 1.3v : 2000mhz if nightlordy was running 2500mhz @ say 1.4v then the TDP of the chip goes from 89watts worse case senerio to a whopping 130watt.

If he’s pulling 170w under load and lets say that 88% CPU thermal load the rest of his system is prob using 45watts and say allow 5watts for the PSU wastage his couple of fans maybe 10watts ram can be 15watts it all starts to fall into place.

Apply it to defaults and your taking 50watts + 78watts @ 88% so 130watts @ load

50watts + 11watts @ idle fot the sake of arguement call it 65watts

you got a system in a 65 to 130watt profile.

Drop that speed to say 1600mhz @ 1.2 voltage your at load about 100/110watts

Just done a test with my opty 170 a 110watt part which is also 1.3v and sucessfully ran 1600mhz @ 1volt that would be 45watts @ 88% thermal load 52-55 if it were to be worse case.

So for sacrificing 400mhz & .3v its halfed the power usage of the CPU.

But your still with 2 core’s so you can say 25w per core… system being dual core will be more responsive than a single core and far faster than any VIA system.

//edit though that assumes both cores running which may not be the case so also for sake of arguement load 1 core and idle other you could be @ 1600mhz @ 1v litterally be using 30watts with 1 core running flat out add your 50watts and your running a system at 80watts to 100 watts working hard and maybe as little as 60watts idle.

equally there options in running the ram below normal voltages and TBH potentially a very good performace per watt system.

So I could still get under 100W under load by buying a newer system and then dropping the voltage and FSB?

Guessing I could free up watts by using as little as possible extra bits (like no PCI cards etc) and use where possible, passive coolers?

Would it be best to go with a Core Duo solution or AMD? The core duo’s appear to have a smaller TDP than the AMD counterparts (and dual core as well)

I have to admit I know little of the specs for Intel so can’t really comment, but going by reviews i see, potentially yes on the MAX TDP I’m sure i’ve seen posts where people are running at very low voltages plus they are better clocking parts for the voltage so in one respect I say yes.

However AMD’s power now maybe better at powersaving than intel I don’t know… when Idle the AMD might be better but I cannot say as I don’t really know.

Think that’s a google job, or twist the arm of some of TPR’s intel core duo geeks to see how low they can go in voltage for a decent speed.

Would I get away with this?

Shuttle with a Semperon 3400 underclocked and undervolted?

Thing is, I could get that system with 1Gb RAM and other bits for £250…

Or am I best off looking for an AM2 board or a Sckt939 and gtting a dual core and dropping it down? DDR2 seems to drop the power if what I’ve read online is true.

Are the shuttles alright for overclocking/underclocking and lower/raiing volatge? One of the requirements was the PC had to be small…As in Shuttle or smaller…

Current idea would be:-
AM2 3800+ HE
eBuyer 1Gb RAM
Hard Drive - IDE or SATA…whatever is cheapest at the time
DVD/CD Drive

All for ~£290 and according to this needs a 139W PSU (before lower voltage etc). Thats about 25W lower than the Semperon I posted above.

I have an SK22G sat next to me and I have to say for a Shuttle its a pile of poo. The PSU is noisy for a modern shuttle, it feels “cheap” compared to the others and is missing various things I always expect to see in Shuttles e.g. no optical (SPDIF/TOSLink) in/out, only one firewire port, only one network port (chipset will support 2 allegedly). It is extremely fussy with memory e.g. won’t run with OCZ. I would advise staying away from this thing unless budget is a prime concern.

If you want small, low power consumption, and something you have no desire to load up with cards and drives have you considered an Asus Pundit? Small, quiet, Socket AM2 and cheaper than the Shuttle.This has caught my eye too…I reckon that would make a pretty damned good terrabyte file server/NAS appliance with Linux on it… anyway moving on, just musing…

Cheers for that Mojo. I wouldn’t have had a clue, never owning a shuttle before. I hadn’t considered any of the Asus systems as they all appeared a bit on the large side.

Both those systems seem quite nice. They do seem better than the shuttles price wise. Only Skt40 ones they do on eBuyer are the SK22G and another one for ~£300 :eek: Seem larger than I wanted but if the Shuttle is awful, I’ll have to go this other root. They’re certainly not bad cases. And they’re quiet which is what I want. Cheers mojo :thumbsup:

Wonder what they’re like for underclocking though…

Got 2 shuttles myself and never had a problem with them personally - think my main one is a SK43G but don’t quote me on that.

Both have reasonable clocking options (but not great) and this one can get pretty noisy - but then it’s at full load with a HOT gfx card in it :smiley:

on idle it’s quiet as a mouse most of the time :slight_smile:

To follow on from Nightlords statement, I have a Shuttle SN25P (S939) being prepped to be my main desktop PC and connected to one of these.

Spec is as follows:

X2 4600
2GiB PC3200
GeForce 7600GT
250GB Samsung SP2504C
Benq DV1670 DVD-RW

Under load with SMP FAH client running under an Ubuntu VMware server it draws 135W. If I get time when I shut everything down over the weekend, I’ll try and run some other load/unload tests on it.

I would have thought the AM2 version (SN27P2) running with an X2 EE CPU would best the figures, particularly with a lower power GFX solution.

From previous experiments with the above appliance, most of my systems have idled at around 100W draw, AMD X2s under FAH/Prime95 load came in around 160-170W, dual Prestonia Xeons came in around 250W.

As a comment on Shuttles long term, the PSU fan is usually the first to go really noisy. The others tend to be ok as long as you dust them now and then. This is based on about 2 years of 24/7 running, so arguably you wont have to worry for a while unless you buy used. Main problem with Shuttle is small size. 2 HDs and an optical drive fits in a typical shuttle, but gets very hot. I’d be concerned for the life of the disks in that configuration.

indeed, I wouldn’t run a shuttle with more than 1 disk in and pref no cdrom drive these days due to heat… might not be so bad using onboard gfx and not under 100% load.

I spent about 30 quid on an external hdd caddy and external cdrom caddy and connect via usb as and when I need them instead - along with the networked fileserver of course :wink: