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This is my current build:

EVGA X58 (first generation) motherboard  
Intel i7 965 clocked @ 3.3 Ghz  
3x DDR3-1600 Corsair RAM at stock timings and voltages  
Corsair AX750 80 Plus Gold PSU  
1 Optical Drive  
1 Seagate 7200.10 500 GB drive  
2x Western Digital Caviar Black 1 TB drives  
OCZ Vertex 1 60 GB  
EVGA GTX 460 oc'd at 800/1600/1850   
Antec 1200 case  
HT-Omega Striker 7.1 Sound Card

Windows 7 32-bit Professional (PAE Enabled)

I've already seen this post Reduce power use on computer and this post How do I lower power consumption of my computer and while useful, I'm looking for answers specific to my build and OS.

I'm pretty sure this build is a energy-intensive build by default, but I want to try to reduce the amount of energy my build uses when I leave it idle (when I go to bed or go out, etc). The first requirement for this machine is that I need to leave it on, so I cannot turn it off while it's being unused. I run it as a file server for personal reasons and I also leave it on in case people leave me messages on various IM services and chat clients (IRC, MSN, Steam, XFire, Pidgin, etc). I'm also unable to replace the parts in my computer with a cheaper "greener" part.

What are some ways to minimize the amount of power the machine uses? I'm already using a high efficiency power supply (80 Plus Gold), but I imagine there's other things that can be done in the BIOS and Windows' power settings to reduce power usage while I'm not using the computer. From what I can tell, I can't use Sleep since that'll disable network access (whole reason why I leave the computer on in the first place).

I already turn off my monitor when it's not in use. I enabled Intel SpeedStep within the BIOS (I know, I have a 965 and why am I enabling SpeedStep?) Should I bring the graphics card back to stock speeds and lower the clock on the processor even more?

Main reason why I'm asking is I think this computer alone is the reason why my power bill is high, so I want to reduce its consumption to as low as possible without having to shut the thing down.

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You should get a watt meter (like a Kill a Watt) and measure how much power that thing is really using! Without this measurement you won't ever know if it really is that computer or if you have other power hungry devices which you really might want to deal with too. –  Dan D. Feb 10 '12 at 9:41
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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

For the 2 requirements that you have mentioned, why dont yourslf get a mid-budget laptop ? Laptops are way less power-hungry. You can still have it as your file-server (depending on its hard drive size?) and keep it on throughout the night, rather than doing the same with your Desktop

Secondly with regard to the the overcloking that you have done. This makes sense only if you do Gaming or Photo/Video editing or some other Intensive tasks... If you dont find yourself doing anything intensive, then bring it back to stock speeds. At stock speeds, your i7 and the gtx460 are quite power efficient- tweeking the power requirements "by themselves" . They consume less power when idle, and increase power requirement dynamically as and when required...

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i agree with this. your desktop pc isnt going to be energy efficient. besides, if you got the laptop route you get a pseudo ups built-in. –  Sirex Feb 10 '12 at 9:30
    
@WhitePheonix got the OC covered, in the same sence you can underclock. if the overclocking is more "manuel" based and stops "Auto" functions, then make a manuel setting for underclock also. Like on my GPU I have 3 manuel settings, low med and high, the low is not only low clocked, but lower voltage. the rest was covered. If it is still Able to step, and lower , then the OC itself will still step down, even though it wont step down "as far". –  Psycogeek Feb 10 '12 at 9:41
    
@alke2007 I actually do occasional video rendering (VirtualDub renders for video gameplay videos to upload to Youtube) and I do quite a bit of gaming, but I'm assuming the current overclocks I have won't make a HUGE difference in game performance (800/1600/1850) versus stock speeds (720/1440/1800)? –  White Phoenix Feb 10 '12 at 9:45
    
@alke2007 I also have a netbook I could use. Maybe I could just keep that on the side for IM use and then only turn on the PC when I need actual gaming done. –  White Phoenix Feb 10 '12 at 17:47
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(Frankly your case is not so different from other people's, but here's some advice anyhow:)

  • According to your specs, most of the power consumption will be attributed to the CPU and the GPU, so you need to limit their clock rates when you're not gaming.

    • Your CPU supports Enhanced Speedstep, so it should automatically save energy for you. If you want to do a step further, use your motherboards's overclock software to lower the CPU's frequency.
    • Desktop graphics cards generally have less provision towards power-saving, but they still scale the GPU and memory's frequency based on profiles/the current running application. You might be able to adjust these in your video driver's control console or through more professional tools like RivaTurner.
  • Memory modules are actually quite power-hungry, but there's little you can do about them obviously. You may be able to lower memory or FSB freuqency with your overclocking software.

  • Hard drives use a very limited amount of power, but in your case you have the opportunity to reduce this. If my assumptions are right, you don't need to access the two 1TB drives all the time, so you can disable those while they're not being used.

  • Also, if you keep your computer on for downloading, you may consider something like the pogo plug.

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This is an i7, so it uses QPI instead, but I get the gist of what you're saying. Already brought back my GPU down to stock speeds, I'll look for some sort of "low power" profile setting for my EVGA mobo's overclocking app. I already have Windows 7 set to spin down the three drives that are not in use, so I think that's a start. I'm thinking of also unplugging my optical because I haven't used it in years. The big reason why I don't use cloud services like Pogoplug is my upload bandwidth is a tiny fraction of my download - would be impractical to upload large files to those. :( –  White Phoenix Feb 10 '12 at 17:49
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