Power usage and HTPC's - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes

post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 2008-01-23, 11:04 AM Thread Starter
Veteran
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Brampton, Ontario
Posts: 1,687
Power usage and HTPC's

I did do a quick search of this forum, and could not find a discussion concerning power saving approaches.

Having a HTPC running 24/7 is needed, if it is capturing TV shows, or being used frequently. However, it may draw a fair bit of power.

I have a power meter, and used it on my home theatre setup. With the TV (Samsung LN-T40612F), Receiver (JVC RX-6042), and HTPC running, it maxes out around 460 watts draw. Not much you can do about that.

However, with the TV and receiver in standby, and the HTPC just idling, it draw around 160 watts. If I power the HTPC down, it draws around 40 watts. In other words, when idling, the HTPC draws around 120 watts.

In our case, we might watch TV for up to four hours a night. In a typical week, there are at least two nights when we are out, so the average is far less than that. Using the Hydro One usage calculator found at:

http://www.hydroonebrampton.com/appliancechart.html

and figuring we are averaging 2.5 hours a day watching TV, or 21.5 hours a day with the HTPC just idling, it is costing me $7.75 per month.

The family room HTPC is not used to capture TV shows - I have a second PC in the office dedicated to that purpose. This made sense with the ATI AIW 9600XT and 9800 Pro cards, since they use software encoding. If you tried to watch a show when the PC was capturing a show, it did not go well. Of course, having a Celeron CPU did not help..... I now have an ATI TV Wonder 650, which does hardware encoding on the card, and a P4 3.0Ghz CPU, so system response is no longer an issue. It should be possible to put the two functions onto one PC, but I would still be concerned about system response when watching an HD-DVD or Blu-Ray movie, even with a P4 CPU.

An alternative to all this is a PVR. A friend has the Rogers HD8300 PVR, which was upgraded to a 320Gb internal drive. He put a power meter on it, and found that it was drawing 20 watts in standby, and 30 watts when active recording a show or watching a show.

Going to a PVR could save a fair bit. It would eliminate the second PC for capturing TV. The PVR would also mean that the HTPC could be shut down for a lot of the time. It would not eliminate the HTPC, since the HTPC is also used to watch movies (DVD, HD-DVD, Blu-Ray), and to play games. However, the number of hours it could be shut off is significant. Plus, the PVR would allow capture of shows in hidef, something now possible except for those with an OTA setup.

Does anyone have any stratigies for saving power in their home entertainment systems?
rfielder is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 2008-01-23, 11:58 AM
Veteran
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Kincardine ON.
Posts: 4,453
I connect my DVD player and media extender through my A/V receiver's switched power outlet.

I have TiVo DVRs, which draw about 30W, and maybe 20W for its accompaning satellite receiver.
The audio receiver and TV have minimal standby power draw, maybe 10W amongst the two.

My workroom monitors are turned hard off (they are older ones without a standby mode). I am in the habit of turning of the PC monitor on my TV room PC, even though it has standby. My workroom and TV room PCs have no speakers at all (at least at this time).


My sins:
My A/V selector has no standby or off mode. The most I can do is turn off its RF out.

My main PC speakers stay on. Maybe 15W draw idle.
Network stuff (modem, router, switch) are on 24/7.
My one USB HDD has its PSU on live, turned of at the drive.

I still have more incandescent lamps around the house than I should have.
classicsat is offline  
post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 2008-01-23, 12:37 PM
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Mississauga, ON
Posts: 342
Well, from looking at your system, you should know that the P4's are power hogs. A Core 2 Duo will use less than 65W max (even less when using the built-in throttling) while a P4 3.0 is typically around 90-100W. The other thing you should consider is using an 80Plus power supply. Cheap power supplies are inefficient and generate more heat which becomes harder to dissipate.

The main thing few people consider when using a HTPC is S3 Standby and Hibernate. Both options make a huge difference in power consumption. S3 Standby uses a fraction of the power while enabling instant-on functions. Unfortunately, MS doesn't enable the mode by default (google 'dumppo' to enable it). I typically have my system set to go into S3 Standby after 1 hour of inactivity and after 3 hours of inactivity, the system hibernates.
jeneral is offline  
 
post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 2008-01-23, 12:37 PM
Moderator
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Ottawa
Posts: 5,469
Quote:
In other words, when idling, the HTPC draws around 120 watts.
I don't know why, but that strikes me as high. How many discs are in the HTPC and do you have them set to spin down when not in use?
jvincent is offline  
post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 2008-01-23, 12:51 PM
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,296
A list of things that can be done to lower PC and HTPC power draws (listed generally in order of effectiveness):
1. Use low power CPUs. Core 2 Duo are the lowest power consuming CPUs right now. The next generation of C2Ds (due out in February) will make significant improvements in lowering power consumption.
2. Use a midrange CPU. Higher speed CPUs tend to use more power at idle and full load. Lower speed CPUs tend to run at full load (full power) longer. The best option is a midrange CPU that still has a low idle power consumption. This information can sometimes be found in reviews.
3. Use a lower powered video card. Some video cards are designed to consume less power and produce less heat. These are typically advertised as silent cards for HTPC use. Avoid overclocked and high end video cards.
4. Use a high efficiency power supply. Some power supplies are advertised as 80+ or high efficiency and typically waste less than 20% of the power they consume. Older power supplies are typically about 70% efficient. (That means they waste about 30% of the power they consume as heat.)
5. Size the power supply correctly. Most power supplies are most efficient at about 50% load. A lower capacity power supply is more suitable for an energy efficient PC.
6. Use low power or "green" disk drives. Hitachi and WD both have low powered lines of disk drives. They tend to cost a little more but have higher capacities and use significantly less power, particularly at idle.
7. Use fewer, higher capacity disk drives.
8. Use a low power motherboard. This information is a little difficult to find but some motherboards use less power than others. Simpler boards with fewer features can use less power but not always. If features are added with third party chips, this will add to the power consumption.
9. Get all the features you need on the motherboard. Built in features typically use less power than PCI cards. Low end motherboards usually use the same chips as their slightly more expensive deluxe counterparts. Sometimes, the only differences are missing connectors and accessories with the cheaper boards and power consumption is almost the same.
10. Use fewer, lower speed cooling fans. This goes hand in hand with lowering overall power. Stock fans tend to run at high speeds and consume more power. After market fans and coolers are more efficient and run at lower speeds. Combine that with fan speed control based on temperature to use even less power and cut noise.
11. Use larger RAM DIMMs with fewer, larger chips and no more RAM than necessary.
12. Check the power consumption of all devices (such as DVD drives) and use the lowest powered option.
13. Don't add any devices that are unlikely to be used (such as floppy drives.) Remove devices that are not needed.
14. Try to combine functionality when possible. For example, get a video card that has video capture rather than separate cards for each function (provided the combination card uses less power than the separate cards.)

Last edited by I_Want_My_HDTV; 2008-01-23 at 01:00 PM.
I_Want_My_HDTV is offline  
post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 2008-01-23, 12:58 PM
Veteran
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Fredericton, NB
Posts: 3,185
I have the following systems tested using a Kill-a-watt under load of a high def MPEG2 video being played back:

System #1
-----------
Asus M2A-VM HDMI
X2 4000+
2 x 1GB PC2-667
1 x 80 GB Seagate SATA2
Antec 380 W powersupply (Incl with Antec NSK2400 case)

Power consumption: 67 W

System #2
-----------
HP Vectra VL400
P3 1 GHz
2 x 256MB PC-133
1 x 40 GB Samsung
Generic 250 W powersupply

Power consumption: 75 W



I have another HTPC system in the house that I have not tested and am intending to so I will check it tonight and report back.

Either way, that is quite the high consuption level on that system of yours for simply doing HTPC duty.
que3jxp is offline  
post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 2008-01-23, 01:00 PM Thread Starter
Veteran
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Brampton, Ontario
Posts: 1,687
Quote:
Originally Posted by jvincent View Post
I don't know why, but that strikes me as high. How many discs are in the HTPC and do you have them set to spin down when not in use?
I was wondering if anyone would pick up on that....

There are two hard drives and an optical drive in the system. Other system specs:
ASUS P5P800 motherboard
Corsair 550W power supply
P4 3.0Ghz
2Gb RAM
Visiontek HD2600 XT video
Seagate ST3120022A 120Gb SATA hard drive
Samsung SP2504C 250Gb SATA hard drive
Onboard S/PDIF coax audio output

Main software is Intervideo Home Theatre 2 and PowerDVD Ultra retail. Also have Winamp 5, WinDVD 8, Opera, and a few others for occasional use.

Yes, I have enabled power down on the drivers. Many times. Something in the system is resetting it to NEVER every time the power down time is hit. Have not figured out which application is doing that yet. Very annoying!

Another poster has commented that the P4's are power hogs, and the system would be much better with a Core 2 Duo CPU. I agree, but the P5P800's will not accept anything beyond the P4 line. A complete system replacement (motherboard, RAM, CPU, video card) is not a viable suggestion at this time.

I like the earlier suggestions about sleep and hibernation modes. Those are things I have not had good luck with in the past, but they are worth considering.

The 40W draw when all are on standby and the PC turned off is for the TV, receiver, and a Rogers HD STB. This is an actual power measurement, not a calculated figure, so those who think that standby draws almost no power might want to get/borrow a power meter and see for themselves how much they are paying to not use some devices.
rfielder is offline  
post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 2008-01-23, 01:03 PM Thread Starter
Veteran
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Brampton, Ontario
Posts: 1,687
Quote:
Originally Posted by classicsat View Post
My workroom monitors are turned hard off (they are older ones without a standby mode). I am in the habit of turning of the PC monitor on my TV room PC, even though it has standby. My workroom and TV room PCs have no speakers at all (at least at this time).
All the monitors in the office are plugged into one power controller, and are switched off when not in use. Having one switch to control them all works well!

Replacing the three tube monitors with LCDs would help a lot. I have to wonder what the pay back time would be.....kind of an important selling feature when you have a significant other to convince.....
rfielder is offline  
post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 2008-01-23, 01:05 PM Thread Starter
Veteran
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Brampton, Ontario
Posts: 1,687
Quote:
Originally Posted by que3jxp View Post
I have the following systems tested using a Kill-a-watt under load of a high def MPEG2 video being played back:
Where did you get the Kill-A-Watt? I thought they were not available in Canada.

I forget the brand name of my meter, but it came from CTC. Price is about the same as the price I have seen listed for the Kill-A-Watt in the US.
rfielder is offline  
post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 2008-01-23, 01:40 PM
Veteran
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Fredericton, NB
Posts: 3,185
I got it for my dad from Think Geek. It is his but I have it a lot too. Ah the convenience of living in the same subdivision as your parents...
que3jxp is offline  
post #11 of 24 (permalink) Old 2008-01-23, 02:48 PM
57
Moderator
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Toronto, Rogers, 9865 & 8300-eHDD, Sharp LC75N8000U, Denon AVR4310Ci; Sony KDL40W3000, 9865
Posts: 56,270
See the following previous thread on parasitic draws, which are not exactly the topic of this thread. Also, there's a link to a Watt-meter sold here that is (typically) less expensive than the Kill-A-Watt and has more features.

http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=35430

57's Home Theatre (Latest equipment & photos)
57 is offline  
post #12 of 24 (permalink) Old 2008-01-23, 04:40 PM Thread Starter
Veteran
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Brampton, Ontario
Posts: 1,687
Quote:
Originally Posted by 57 View Post
See the following previous thread on parasitic draws, which are not exactly the topic of this thread. Also, there's a link to a Watt-meter sold here that is (typically) less expensive than the Kill-A-Watt and has more features.
Unless CTC has changed what they are selling, then I have the same power meter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 57 View Post
5. That you really have to crank the volume to use additional power from the subwoofer amp or Yamaha receiver...
The reason I purchased a power meter was to measure my DJ gear. Some places are old, with questionable AC, so I wanted to see exactly what was what.

I run two tops (Yorkville NX55P, 12" 550W) and one sub (Yorkville LS720P, 15", 720W) for a total rated audio power of 1,820 watts. Add to this two laptops, mixer, DSP, two wireless mic systems, and lots of little bits and pieces of electronic gear, and you can see why I was concerned about running everything off one 15A circuit.

Surprise! In the hall I used in Dundas, Ontario, which is 37' wide by 120 feet long, I fill the hall very, very well. Max power draw is around the same as three 100W bulbs.

Why so low? Because I am running well, well below the max output on everything. My gear can get a LOT louder, but that is never needed. Remember, each 3dB increase in volume requires double the power. To gain 10dB, you need about a 10x power increase. And 10dB makes sound twice as loud.

Talk about headroom....WOW! But, it sounds amazing, so we are all happy.

My hydro bill for Dec was 1,255kWh. Hydro One says that the average power draw in Ontario for single family dwellings is 880kWh. That make me start looking around - and my friends told me it had to be all these computers that are running 24/7. Having done a couple of measurements, I suspect this is not the main reason - but it is an area that improvements could be made. Home theatre is an important thing these days, and something many here have mucho experience in.

I was actually wondering about documenting everything in my house that uses electricity, and then measuring everything. Obviously I am not the first to think of doing this......

On a totally unrelated topic, any chance of getting a Quote button on these messages? Having to do two steps to get the quote into a reply seems rather inefficient.
rfielder is offline  
post #13 of 24 (permalink) Old 2008-01-23, 04:54 PM
57
Moderator
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Toronto, Rogers, 9865 & 8300-eHDD, Sharp LC75N8000U, Denon AVR4310Ci; Sony KDL40W3000, 9865
Posts: 56,270
Quote:
any chance of getting a Quote button on these messages?
No chance, we had those and many people used quote instead of reply and we had a lot of unnecessary quotes. Even with the two steps we still have unnecessary quotes, or ones that are unnecessarily long.

Properly used, quotes are fine, but many people would simply have hit the quote button, leaving the entire text instead of simply quoting the necessary line.

57's Home Theatre (Latest equipment & photos)
57 is offline  
post #14 of 24 (permalink) Old 2008-01-24, 09:34 AM Thread Starter
Veteran
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Brampton, Ontario
Posts: 1,687
Quote:
Originally Posted by 57 View Post
Properly used, quotes are fine, but many people would simply have hit the quote button, leaving the entire text instead of simply quoting the necessary line.
Understood. Thanks.

Now, back to topic......
rfielder is offline  
post #15 of 24 (permalink) Old 2008-01-25, 06:01 PM Thread Starter
Veteran
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Brampton, Ontario
Posts: 1,687
Related article online

This link is to an article by someone who measured the standby power of a lot of stuff in his home.

The final group are the interesting ones - his STB drew as much power off as on!

What really surprised me was the power draw of his TV when in standby mode.

After reading this, I think I will do the same at home.....
rfielder is offline  
Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now



In order to be able to post messages on the Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.

Password:


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:
OR

Log-in










Thread Tools Search this Thread
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes
Linear Mode Linear Mode



Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome