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How to Check PC Power Consumption in Windows?

written by: •edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 1/20/2010

One of the major question concerning computer users is how to check PC power consumption in Windows. This article discusses if PC users need to worry about power consumption while buying or using a PC. It also offers a take on the Power Options in Windows.

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    PC Power Consumption in Windows - Do I Need to Worry?

    To check PC power consumption in Windows, let us assume your PC is powered directly by an AC power outlet. This is most common scenario for most home PCs. In rare cases, users have a high end UPS or additional batteries to extend backup. To understand PC power consumption, we will neglect the second scenario for the time being.

    Concerning PC power consumption in Windows, a desktop PC consumes 300 Watts on an average (without the monitor). During boot time, it consumes the most power: around 400Watts. While working normally, it is anywhere between 260Watts to 400Watts depending upon the number and types of applications running. If you are playing games, you are using more power. Multitasking means more computer resources and thereby an increase in power consumption.

    PC power consumption during the "idle" state of a computer is around 160Watts. This also doesn't include power consumption of the monitor. Different monitors of different brands, resolution, and type use different amount of power. For example, a Sony17" monitor consumes 90Watts. The power consumption of an LG 17" monitor is 95Watts. If you go down in inches, the power consumption will go down by few Watts. A Sony 11" monitor has a power consumption of around 80 Watts. Also, LCD monitors consume around 35Watts compared to Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) Monitors.

    When your PC is in "Sleep Mode," it consumes no more than 70 Watts of power plus 15 Watts for your monitor. The "Sleep Mode" means almost all components of the PC are inactive, hence minimum PC power consumption.

    Fast Fact: Many people turn OFF their monitors before leaving the desk. This gives you temporary savings. The monitor needs power to stay warm. The moment you turn it ON, it pulls out all the power you think you saved. It is better to put the entire PC on standby rather than just turning monitor OFF.

    The next section takes a look at different power saving options in Windows and helps you decide if you really need them to keep a check on PC power consumption.

    Please Note: The above units are approximates and NOT absolutes. PC power consumption varies per the type of components. It is also dependent on the number/type of applications. For example, graphic intensive applications increase PC power consumption.

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    Power Options to Check Power Consumption in Windows

    As discussed above, a PC plugged directly into an AC outlet consumes an average of 300Watts throughout the day. For such scenarios, there is not much need for power management. The only thing to be considered is to buy parts that require lower PC power consumption. Though you can use a Wattmeter to know how much power each unit requires, I recommend Kill-A-Watt, a device that helps you check PC power consumption in Windows or any other OS. The device is available in price range of $20 to $50.

    The need for Power Options to check power consumption in Windows comes into the picture when you are using your PC via a UPS attached to external batteries to extend backup time. This is similar to notebook computers. Even in this case, I would not recommend turning off HDDs and monitors when on AC power.

    It is only when your computer is on batteries that you need to adjust PC power consumption. A Standby can save considerable amount of PC power consumption instead of screensaver. To keep a check on PC power consumption when on batteries, try to use minimum resources. Check this article to reduce PC power consumption when on batteries.

    To sum up, 300Watts is average home PC power consumption. It is better to replace your CRT monitor with LCD for further savings. To keep a check on PC power consumption, it is recommended that you put it on standby instead of using a screensaver. An idle time interval of 10 minutes is appropriate to put the PC to standby. Finally, check for EnergyStar logo before you buy any PC. This makes sure that your PC does not waste much power.

    TIP: To know about the PC power consumption of any branded computer, you can use Google search in the following format:

    <computer series> power consumption site:<manufacturers website>

    For Compaq Presario V6000, you type "compaq v6000 power consumption" in Google search (without quotes) to see its power requirements.

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