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I recently built myself a new Linux Server with a Core 2 Duo 1,83 GHz CPU and a nVidia GeForce 7200LE graphics card, which was the cheapest passively cooled card I could find. I've measured power draw of the system and it seems to draw about 95 Watts.

The graphics card seems to generate quite a bit of heat though, I don't even have a monitor, mouse or keyboard connected to the machine so this seems quite unnecessary.

Can I underclock or even power down the graphics card somehow to conserve energy?

Update: After removing the graphics card and undervolting the CPU from 1.25V to 1.1V (seems stable), power usage has dropped to 70 Watts. Thanks everyone.

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shouldn't this be on serverfault? – zpesk Aug 3 '09 at 17:36
up vote 5 down vote accepted

I am slightly confused. Why do you have a graphics card in there anyway? Even if you were going to use a monitor, couldn't you just use the onboard graphics?

It sounds like removing it would be the best way for it to reduce power consumption.

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There is no onboard graphics on my motherboard.. and booting a standard computer without a graphics card is just not possible, or is it? – weazl Aug 3 '09 at 11:13
@weazl: Although I am no expert on these sorts of things, I can't see why it wouldn't work. Take it out and try! – Josh Hunt Aug 3 '09 at 11:17
@joshhunt: Try googling it, I don't think it can be done. – weazl Aug 3 '09 at 11:39
@joshhunt: I'll be darned, I was wrong. The computer booted fine without the graphics card. Saved me a total of 15 Watts of power. – weazl Aug 3 '09 at 17:09

There is a tool called nvclock which can adjust the clock for Nvidia cards.

It only works if you use the proprietary nvidia driver.

There is a debian/ubuntu package called nvclock and GUIs for KDE nvclock-qt and GNOME nvclock-gtk.

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The server does not have x installed as I'm not intending to use it for any such purpose, do I still need to install the proprietary nVidia driver somehow? – weazl Aug 3 '09 at 11:15
nvclock depends only on libc, libx11 and libxext. The description says: "The official binary nVidia drivers are required for accesses other than by root.". So, chances are good, but the only way to find a definitive answer is to give it a try. – Ludwig Weinzierl Aug 3 '09 at 11:50
It worked, but it really didn't do much, temperature hardly dropped at all and I saved at most 3-4 Watts of power. – weazl Aug 3 '09 at 17:08
@weazl: It's a pity, but I guess it was worth a try. – Ludwig Weinzierl Aug 3 '09 at 18:43

Well, here and here is what I've found on booting without VGA (there are more, google if you are interested). In short: most probably your BIOS won't allow to boot without VGA, and even if it will - not all Linux kernels support that. If you don't want to research that path further, then underclocking or replacing with an older VGA is preferable.

Can't help with underclocking though, never tried it on Linux. Here is someone who tried to do that on Ubuntu, but from what I understood he had trouble with keeping those settings between restarts. Plus I'm not sure if it is possible to load nvidia driver from terminal without installing x.

The easiest way would be to find an old cheap graphics card on eBay for 2-4$. That way you'll waste less time and effort on that problem.

Most of modern VGA's consume quite a lot of energy even on idle. All that heat is from it just being turned on. And your card is considered an "upgrade from integrated graphics solution with ~50% better performance", so it isn't a best fit for a Linux server anyway.

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