Buying a Greener PC

Buying a Greener PC

Range Govindan
Jul 29, 2011

While you can toil and try to build your own greener computer, there are some manufacturers who actually already offer energy efficient and greener parts sourced computers. These ready-made solutions will allow you to choose a computer that uses less energy and possibly has more recyclable parts for easier e-cycling. Not all of these options are widely known, which is a shame, but here are a few we think are worth considering the next time you're in the market for a new machine...

It's been difficult to put together these posts (this is part 3, you'll find part 1 here and part 2 here), basically because there isn't much information available on this subject. You'll find references to low-voltage and green desktops, but finding actual real-world impact figures is hazy at best.

All for except Acer, none of the manufacturers makes it easy to find information about their energy-efficient desktops. The one that was the most challenging was Dell, as we had to read a detailed PDF file, then cross reference all their desktops...only some of them aren't listed on the website anymore. Needless to say the process would be a matter of jumping one too many hoops for the average customer who wants this type of information available at a quick glance. Consumers are increasingly eco-conscious, and it should be pretty straightforward to put this information easily available for everybody, but the industry has yet to willingly make this category of information easy reference in the same way fast food companies have long hidden their caloric figures.

1. Lenovo ThinkStation C20: These desktop workstations are made from more than 50% (up to 65%) recyclable plastic. They're also ENERGY STAR 5.0-compliant and each boast EPEAT Gold and GREENGUARD certifications. They also come with an 80 PLUS Bronze-certified power supply for improved energy management. An Intel Xeon 5600 series CPUs, with an variable power controller called Dynamic Power Management technology, allows a decrease in overall energy consumption for low CPU intensive tasks.

2. Recompute PC: From the first glance, this looks like a very green PC, since the whole box is made out cardboard, but the basic specs aren't that green; they're actually sadly a bit standard compared to its eco-exterior. Thankfully, you can upgrade them (at extra cost). Still, nothing beats this box in regards to recycling because once you're at the end of its use, recycling will be as easy as disposing it in the paper recycling bin.

3. HP Desktops and Workstations: HP makes a number of energy efficient workstations and desktops, though you'll have to check through their business PC line in order to find the best options. Here are the models we found that have EPEAT, 80 PLUS, and ENERGY STAR certifications:

Note: HP Compaq 6000 Pro All-in-One PC and the HP Compaq 6200 Pro Small Form Factor PC have the EPEAT Gold certification, which means that almost 95% of their components are recyclable.

4. Acer Veriton: Acer's Veriton line is their greener line of PCs. They come in five different designs, but only the Veriton L meets EPEAT Silver certification. All others are ENERGY STAR compliant.

5. Dell PCs: Here is a list (PDF link) of the different certifications Dell products have received. Most of them are ENERGY STAR compliant and some of them even have the ENERGY STAR 5.0 certifications. Others are EPEAT designated, varying from Gold to Bronze. Dell's most energy efficient consumer models are their Dell Studio Hybrid, a desktop model with a laptop Intel Core2 Duo Mobile Processor CPU inside. At 80% smaller size than a typical desktop and using 70% less power in comparison to their other models, this could be a good PC choice if you don't need a power machine. But here's the catch: Dell seems to have stopped selling these energy efficient models despite still listing them on their site, so you'll have to hunt down deadstock or a used machine.

However, out of all of the manufacturers we've surveyed, Dell makes it the most difficult to find out which products exactly are the most energy efficient, as it requires some digging into the recesses of their website for relevant figures.

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(Image: Flickr member Roger Smith licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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