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I would like to contribute my idle processor power for something good.I usually seed to p2p network, but I hope this doesn't require much amount of processor utilization? So I installed BOINC software platform and began to contribute to seti@home. But it seems that system is under a heavy load and makes loud noises (fans at full speed I think..).

I would really like to contribute but I don't want my electricity bill to go very high. So, how can I calculate the amount of electrical power my system consumes? Also is there any chance that I would cause damage to system under high loads? Or is it good for me to utilize my full processor potential? Will this reduce my system lifespan?

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closed as off-topic by Canadian Luke, Dave, Mokubai, gronostaj, Tog Sep 6 '13 at 21:10

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I think that the Kill A Watt is probably a better tool than software. –  nerdwaller Sep 5 '13 at 14:25
    
Yes, you can get several different forms of power or current meters. I have a clamp-on AC ammeter from Radio Shack that I bought some years back that is very well suited for this. If you hunt around you should be able to find one for under $30. (Be sure it comes with a plug adapter for measuring the current draw by plug-in devices.) –  Daniel R Hicks Sep 5 '13 at 15:49
    
A lot of people dont realize this, but you rarely use you computer. Assuming normal 8 hour work day, 8 hours of sleep, etc, you are only using your computer a few hours a day. Using these distributed computer applications will use significantly increase the power consumption of the PC. And the PC will be producing significantly more heat. –  Keltari Sep 5 '13 at 15:53

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

This information is not generally exposed to software. As nerdwaller points out, you'll want to grab a Kill A Watt or similar tool to monitor energy usage.

There are some power supplies that provide a means to read this, and it's at least possible to do via a UPS as well, though it is incredibly rare. Your computer all but certainly does not provide a way for software to read the current energy use.

You should expect your fans to spin up when your CPU usage is pinned, as is the case when running something like SETI@home. Your energy use will definitely go up. The Wikipedia has an article on CPU power dissipation. Remember, the CPU is only one component of your PC that uses power. A high-end Core i7 may dissipate up to 150 W, for example. Some CPUs are more efficient than others while idle; none take 0 W, but many can run on only a trickle of power. You can do a back-of-the-envelope calculation, then, by looking up the Max TDP of your CPU and assuming that's how much extra power you'll use while pinning your CPU.

It's possible that you'll damage your system by running it continually at full load. Heat is not good for your PC's components, and you'll be specifically stressing your CPU and RAM, at least. But they will be running within spec and it's not something I'd worry about. Possible but very unlikely.

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