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The 5 Best Green Computers

written by: Jennifer Claerr•edited by: Lindsay Evans•updated: 5/23/2011

A green computer can help to protect the planet and save you money on electricity. It's fairly simple to determine how green a computer is. The United States government provides tools to help you find a green computer that meets your needs.

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    Green Computer Assessment Methods

    There are many ways you can determine how green a computer is before you make your purchase. The United States government assesses how green computers are by using the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT). The EPEAT system has 23 required environmental criteria which desktop and laptop computers and computer monitors must meet. There are also 28 optional criteria. In order to qualify for a Bronze rating, a green computer or monitor must meet all of the required EPEAT criteria. To get a Silver or Gold rating, the computer or monitor must meet 50% or 75% of the optional criteria, respectively. The top 5 greenest computers are desktop or notebook computers that have earned EPEAT gold and that also have Energy Star 5.0 certification.

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    Greenest Laptop Computers

    Buying an energy efficient laptop computer is your best bet when shopping for a green computer.

    Lenovo ThinkPad T Series laptops such as the T400 and T500 come with an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, Windows Vista, 2 GB of RAM, a 160 GB hard disk drive and a mercury-free widescreen LCD display. It has a power-saving graphics mode to conserve energy for mobile computing. You can customize your ThinkPad T Series laptop computer with additional features such as an LED backlit display, additional memory, a larger hard drive or an energy-saving solid state hard drive and a 9 cell Li-Ion battery for improved energy efficiency and performance.

    The ultra-lightweight and rugged HP EliteBook laptop models 2530p, 6930p, 8530w mobile, 8730w mobile and 8530p are some of HP's greenest computers. These models come with an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, Windows Vista, a widescreen anti-glare display, 8 GB maximum RAM and a SATA hard drive. The HP EliteBook is customizable to include a solid state hard drive, a Centrino 2 processor with vPro technology and a 9-cell Li-Ion battery. The EliteBook starts at only 3.1 pounds, making this laptop computer easily portable. On the HP website, you must select "Configure Energy Star" to get a customized computer with the Energy Star label.

    Apple's 13, 15 and 17 inch MacBook Pro models come with an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, a SATA hard drive, NVIDIA graphics, up to 8 GB of RAM and a lithium polymer battery. The MacBook also has a mercury-free LED-backlit display with arsenic-free glass, internal cables that are free from polyvinyl-vinyl chloride (PVC), a recyclable aluminum and glass enclosure and reduced packaging. The MacBook Pro is also free from brominated fire retardant (BFR).

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    Greenest Desktop Computers

    Desktop computers typically don't score as high in the EPEAT system as notebook computers. However, there are quite a few desktops that have earned EPEAT Gold and Energy Star 5.0 certification. Be sure to check the EPEAT website for computer monitors that have earned an EPEAT Gold rating.

    The Dell Optiplex 960 is a green desktop computer that's available with an Intel Core 2 Quad or Duo processor with vPro technology, Windows Vista, memory up to 8 GB and a SATA hard drive up to 320 GB. This green computer comes with a mini-tower, desktop or small form factor chassis. If you select the small form factor chassis during customization, you can select an EPA computer power supply unit (PSU) that is up to 88% energy efficient.

    HP Compaq dc5800 and dc5850 Series PCs are among HP's greenest desktop computers. Included are the dc5800 Microtower and Small Form Factor PCs, the dc5850 Microtower and Small Form Factor computers. These computers are customizable to come with a wide range of Intel processors, up to 8 GB of RAM in certain models and a SATA hard drive between 80 and 500 GB. The Small Form Factor PC uses a maximum of 240 watts. Like HP's green notebook computers, the dc5800 and dc5850 PCs are customizable to include an efficient power supply, an Intel Core 2 Duo processor and NVIDIA graphics.

    To make sure that you choose the greenest computer possible, always check the customization options. Don't assume that a computer is Energy Star certified - instead, check for the Energy Star 5.0 label when you go to complete your purchase. In many cases, you can dramatically increase the energy efficiency and lifespan of the computer by selecting features such as a solid state hard drive, an LED backlit LCD monitor or built-in display, an energy efficient power supply, additional memory and a battery with a longer life.

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    "ThinkPad T Series,"

    "A tough notebook for tough times,"

    "The new MacBook Pro family,"

    "Dell OptiPlex 960 Desktop Computer,"

    "HP Compaq dc5800 Business Desktop PC,"