Building Your Own Greener PC: Part 1

Building Your Own Greener PC: Part 1

Range Govindan
Jul 8, 2011

Although there's plenty of news about the fastest and most feature rich gaming and graphic rigs, you rarely hear much about green and energy efficient computers. However if you wanted to put together your own PC with the goal of making it environmentally friendly, what would you use? Just like any PC, assembling one can be problematic since there's a plethora of choices in components to choose from. In this two part series we'll share a few recommendations for PC parts and components with lower energy consumption and safer materials in mind...

1. Hard Drive:

-WD Caviar Green: The first step in putting together a greener computer is to simply go for greener hard drives. Hard drives spin to access data, so it make sense to try and find a greener option. We've always had no problems with WD hard drives, which is why we'd start with the WD Caviar Green drives.

-Solid State Drives: In general, SSDs consume about half the power of a standard hard drive. Most SSDs use 1.9W of power in active mode and 0.6W in idle mode, which means that power and head loads are minimized. However, expect to pay for these types of drives, which can cost about $500 for 256GB of storage. The best solution would be to combine an SSD with a low-wattage hard drive, using the SSD to install Windows and all of you program files, and storing your data on the other hard drive. It would significantly improve your system's speed.

2. Memory: Kingston and Micron make low-voltage memory that will fit your motherboard. These types of DDR3 RAM will use about 1.5V, which is about 30% less than usual memory. In order to appear significant, these types of memory need to be combined with a low-voltage CPU, motherboard, and graphics card. Otherwise, the energy savings are simply lost.

3. Processor: Many computer rigs are just built to consume power, gaming rigs especially. It's not easy to find something that will consume less power and still perform well. We've found that the AMD Athlon II X4 processors consume about 45W, so they're made to consume a lot less power. The new Intel i7, i5 and i3 come in versions that consume less power as well. For the i7, the consumption is 45W, the other two models consume 35W.

4. Motherboard: The Asus M4A87TD motherboard is compatible with AMD Athlon II processors and also supports low-voltage RAM, making it a good low-power combo for a green PC. The Asus Sabretooth is a high-end desktop motherboard, but it features some interesting power-saving features, which could also make it quite frugal and efficient for a green setup.

Next time, we'll cover graphics cards, power supplies, cases, fans, and a few odds and ends to put the finishing touches onto your greener PC.

Unusual and Alternative PC Cases
Recompute: The Green Computer
Extending Your Computer's Life and Utility

(Images: Flickr member Trodas licensed for use under Creative Commons and Lenovo)

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