The cost of running your gaming rig all day might be quite a bit more than you think. As someone who has 4 computers throughout their house running constantly, I’ve had to learn the hard way. Hopefully this post will help you to realize the importance of not only having energy efficiency settings on your computer, but also buying an energy efficient power supply up front.
In order to figure out how much money we’re spending each year on our PC we need to determine the total amount of kWh or kilowatt hours we’re using in a year. After that you’ll simply need to take a look at the average price of a kWh in your state and multiply your total number of kWh by that number.
First Determine or Estimate Your Average Wattage:
In order to determine how much energy that your computer consumes per year first you need to determine how much wattage it’s using on average. In order to do this you’ll need a kilowatt meter which you can find online for around $20. If you want to determine the amount of power your computer needs to run all your peripherals, then use a power supply Calculator online.
For the purposes of this article we’re going to assume a number in order to make our calculation. Because most gaming rigs are pretty beefy, we’ll assume an average consumption of 400 watts. This is the number I’m using simply because when I’m on my computer I’m either gaming or doing a multitude of tasks at the same time like rendering, photo and video editing, and watching video. If the majority of the time you’re at your computer you’re simply browsing and aren’t gaming, then the average amount of power you’re using is most likely substantially less.
How Many Hours is Your Computer On Per Year?
While this amount will vary greatly by the type of computer you’re using and your own personal needs, I’m going to assume that if you’re a fairly hardcore gamer like I am that you run your computer around 10 hours per day. Because my computer is sometimes idling or I’m simply browsing I’m going to bring that number to 8 hours. Admittedly this isn’t a perfect number, but to find how many hours per year we have our computer on we’ll simply multiply 8 times the number of days in a year or 365. This number ends up being 2,920 hours.
Power Supply Efficiency and Adjusting Our Assumption By Efficiency
Power supplies take AC power from your wall and convert it to DC power which your computer needs to operate its electronic components. No power supply is 100% efficient at this and thus all power supplies dissipate the wasted energy as heat. The more efficient your power supply, the less heat dissipation and wasted energy you’ll have.
Understanding 80 Plus Certification:
Power supplies are rated standard, bronze, silver, gold, and platinum based on their efficiency at 20%, 50%, and 100% capacity. For example, in order to be rated a platinum power supply a PSU must attain an efficiency rating of 90%, 92%, and 89% at the 3 capacities listed above. In general, power supplies are most efficient at a load of between 40% to 60%. Understanding this may help you to realize just why manufacturers make such high capacity PSU.
In general the more power you consume the better efficiency you want to try and achieve. Let’s take our assumption of 400 watts as an example. Keep in mind that if you’re using a kilowatt meter you won’t need to modify your assumption. Rather, you should use the number that is displayed rather than adjusting it.
Your Power Supply Needs to Pull More Power to Achieve What it Needs.
For example, if you purchased a power supply that wasn’t 80 PLUS certified and had a 70% efficiency rating you’d need to pull 400/.7 or 571.42 watts in order to achieve the 400 watts on average which we need. On the other hand if you were running a 90% efficient power supply, then you would need 400/.9 or 444.44 watts in order to achieve the same level of power.
The Formula for Determing Your Total kWh Consumption:
Now that we have all the numbers we need to calculate our total kilowatt hours in a year here’s a look at the formula:
kWh = (Average Wattage x Total Hours)/1000
So, for our 70% efficient PSU we need to take our higher wattage number (571.43) x the total number of hours our computer is on in a year or 2920. The result shows us that we use 1668.57 kWh per year for our computer. On the other hand the 90% efficient power supply used just 1297.78. You can also use the Rapid Tables Calculator to do this calculation for you.
The Cost of a kWh in Your State:
Now we need to take the total number of kWh we use and multiple it by the price of a kWh in our state. Go to EIA.gov to find out just how much the average energy price is in your state or check your power bill for a more exact number. For the purpose of this article, we’ll assume it’s the average price of a kWh in the US or 12.4 cents.
For our 70% efficient power supply this would result in a total cost of $206.90. For our 90% efficient PSU, $160.92. This results in a difference of $45.98 each and every single year. Considering the average cost of a kWh is rising substantially each year, you can see the importance of using a efficient PSU long-term.
Final Thoughts on the Cost of Running Your Gaming PC:
It seems well worth it to keep energy savings in mind when running your PC. From having a regular sleep mode to purchasing an efficient power supply you’ll save a lot of money in the long-term.
Ultimately, it may be worth it for those of you who use a lot of power to go as efficient as possible, while others may find that an inexpensive 80 Plus bronze unit is most cost effective. This all will depend on the length of time which you use your computer’s power supply. What are your thoughts?
This is why I always run Nvidia cards, and Intel chips.