How much money will I save if I build a low power PC for daily usage and use my high power system just for gaming, video editing, etc? The truth is, not much if any at all.
I made the mistake of not stopping to do the math before I purchased the parts for my economy daily driver. Hopefully I can help prevent you from making the same mistake.
My high power system consists of a Asus M5A99X Evo motherboard, A overclocked FX 8300 CPU under a CoolerMaster Hyper 212 Evo cooler, 32GB Gskill RipJawsX DDR3 1600, A MSI Gaming X RX 480 8GB, A Samsung 850 Evo 240GB SSD, 2 2TB WD Black HDD’s, a EVGA 750G2 PSU inside a Corsair 330R case. Cost to build with todays memory prices, over $1250.
My low power system is a Gigabyte GA-F2A88XM D3HP motherboard, a A8 7600 APU, 16GB HyperX Fury 1866, A HyperX Fury 240GB SSD, a WD blue 1TB HDD, a EVGA 500B PSU, in a Thermaltake Versa 22 case, total cost now $550.
This is where it hurts: At idle, while browsing or doing light tasks, both systems are within 5 watts of each. Watching video on youtube or netflix the low power system actually uses a few watts more due to a much higher CPU load. Doing CPU intensive tasks such as rendering, the high power system uses more watts, but finishes much faster so uses less power. Some of these tasks cannot be handled by the low power system at all. The only task that the low power system actually saves a substantial amount of power on is while gaming, and that is because it can’t play any of the newer titles at any frame rate that would be considered acceptable.
The attached charts show gaming cost per hours per year, but that is probably high on the 990FX as I used AIDA 64 stress test with the CPU and GPU both at 100% load. That is not something the FX and RX are going to hit all the time, but will be with the A8. These charts are fairly simple to make in Excel or Open Office, but you’ll need a P3 Kill-A-Watt or similar to get the actual watt draw from the PC.
Now for the really bad part: If the low power system idles, plays Youtube video’s, Plays Netflix and Games for 2 hours each, every day for a year I’ll save $13.65 per year at the current rate. It’s only going to take 40.29 years for the low power system to pay for itself in power savings! Yipee!