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If I use onboard video instead of a PCI-E card, will I save much money in the electricity bill?

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5 Answers 5

If you want to know the actual savings, get a Kill-A-Watt. Run the computer for one month with the video card and one month without. Compare the actual kilowatt-hours used and multiply that by your electricity rate for cost comparison.

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This depends on a lot of factors. Let's make some assumptions.

  • Your video card consumes 10W under idle conditions (monitor turned off due to power save).
  • Your video card consumes 35W under low-load conditions (using business productivity apps or web browsing without video).
  • Your video card consumes 100W under high-load conditions (3D video games, high res video).
  • You leave your computer on 18 hours a day.
  • You use you computer 4 hours a day, 2 of which are under high-load conditions.
  • You pay $.19 per kilowatt-hour for electricity (check you electric bill for the real numbers)

Based on these assumptions, your video card consumes 430 watts per day (16*10 + 35*2 + 100*2) at a cost of $0.082 per day.

So if you were to remove your video card, you would save about 8 cents per day, and you probably couldn't do any of your high-load video stuff, so you save 2 hours a day not playing video games!

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How long is a piece of string?

Without knowing your graphics card (and sometimes chipset), this is impossible to say... and there are many many factors involved.

The graphics card companies do not usually say how much voltage a single card will take but your best bet is to look at the requirements they give for a SLI/Crossfire and deduct it from the minimum specification...

For example - ATI Radeon™ HD 5770 System Requirements

450 Watt or greater power supply with one 75W 6-pin PCI Express® power connectors recommended (600 Watt and two 6-pin connectors for ATI CrossFireX™ technology in dual mode)

Meaning, 600w + 150w (2x 75w 6 pin) is 750w for two cards, the minimum specification is 450w + 75w = 525w, so deducted is 225w per card.... This is a high end card, and I am not sure how accurate, but I am not sure you will get better details on power specification.

This being said, I have been impressed with motherboards that have embedded ATI graphics, they seem to be very good, however, the last time I ran tests (about 2 years ago), I saw with some Intel boards, by using just a cheap £20 graphics card, it seemed to speed up general system performance - I am guessing due to offloading from the chipset. I am sure that even a low end card would use more power than embedded, but you may want to experiment yourself.

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6  
A string is as twice as long as it is from one end to the middle. –  random Nov 28 '09 at 11:01
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I think this analysis is flawed. The 450W power supply is for the whole computer... but the 75W 6-pin power connector may be a good measure of how much the video card draws. –  Jason R. Coombs Nov 28 '09 at 14:31
    
@jason - if it says two cards require 750w, and one card requires 525... (which include other components) then surely, for just one card without anything else, you just deduct one from the other? –  William Hilsum Nov 28 '09 at 19:00
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It says 450W, not 525W. The 75W 6-pin PCI Express power connector comes from the power supply, and is included in the 450W number. –  netvope Jun 13 '12 at 1:27
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By the way, looking at the TDP numbers would give you a better idea on the power consumption. (For 5770, it's 18W idle and 108W max, according to Wikipedia) –  netvope Jun 13 '12 at 1:32

You will save some money, but question should really be "Do I need a graphics card for what I want to do, or will on-board be sufficient?" No point in saving any leccy if you can't run the games you want to play or watch the 1080 video without stuttering.

If you only need on-board, then go with that. If you need a GFX card, then (given the nature of your question) you want to be asking which one offers the best performance per watt.

Tomshardware reviews are a good source of power usage comparison figures, see here for an example.

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Hand waving solution without looking at your hardware: 50-250W. I can't translate that to money, as we have no idea about your energy bill rates.

BTW, you'll save money on the hardware too. You can unplug your PCI-E card and sell it on ebay.

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