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Electric Usage of Video Games  RSS feed

 
pollinator
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There is an interesting article today on the electric usage of video games, and what can be done about it. This has been a big problem in my household.

video article
 
pollinator
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Yeah, that's an interesting article. Thanks for finding it. I think it deserves a mention in any update of Paul's article about cutting energy usage.

-CK
 
gardener
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I've tested various areas of energy use in the home with a kill-a-watt meter, and one part was my laptop, designated a "gaming" laptop due to dedicated video card and a larger screen size. The laptop uses about 100 watts continuous while playing a game that has higher demands. Newer processors have had lower energy demands, but video cards are the big gotcha, plus running multiple screens. It's a luxury in my opinion, like having a pool which is also a huge energy sink. Out here where electricity starts at 21cents/kwh at a minimum, and goes up to 40 per khw after the first couple hundred, I have coworkers that spend over $500/month on their utility bills, and why it seems almost everyone is adding grid-tied solar to their homes. My last bill was about $30, including $18 of electricity use, so I'm not so worried about it  
 
Stacy Witscher
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I'm not a big gamer, but some members of my household game a lot. My daughter's boyfriend was living with us and he has two monitors and plays streaming games while talking/video calling other players, and displays it all via twitch. It was a huge energy and data suck. I liked that this article offering some solutions other than just stop gaming. I'm looking forward to leaving these issues behind me.
 
gardener
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I used to be a gamer. Even built my own desktop computer back in 2005. That thing was a beast... I used it as my heater during college. It would easily keep an apartment warm during the winter. I'm glad that I moved on from games...
 
gardener
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Daron Williams wrote:I used to be a gamer. Even built my own desktop computer back in 2005. That thing was a beast... I used it as my heater during college. It would easily keep an apartment warm during the winter. I'm glad that I moved on from games...



I remember in the mid 90s the geeks I ran around with using their hardware to heat their apartments One guy had a Sun server in his kitchen, and he used to heat his food on it, built a little oven thing on the hottest part. More modern tech runs much cooler, but has many more things like graphics cards pulling power. A lot of us did the blanket over the desk, your hardware on the floor bit to heat ourselves while geeking. I still keep my desktop computer box on the floor, out of habit, cooler in summer, and heats your feet in winter
 
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An interesting read. Kind of puts it all in perspective huh? So many of the things we do for recreation now use mass quantities of electricity and thus significantly contribute to the carbon footprint, gaming being no exception.

As was mentioned, a lot of it has to do with your specific rig and your display(s). Of course a state of the art PC with a high end GPU attached to 3 LCD monitors while also streaming to a giant TV is going to be a huge power hog. That much is obvious. But I can't see a kid on an Xbox even coming close to that level. So it also really depends what type of gaming you're into. I know plenty of people who scoff at anything under 4k resolution and are content buying $1200 Ti video cards on the regular. Others, like myself, still have a lot of fun with the old retro classics like NES/SNES.

Basically, if you want to save on energy consumption, maybe stick to the classics or even mobile gaming. But if you are looking to experience the best that modern games have to offer (such as VR and the like) be prepared to spend a small fortune on your PC and elecricity costs. That is, unless you're rich and don't care or you've gone solar full scale.

One thing is for certain though: tech prices have come down a lot in recent years but they still ain't cheap!

And that's my two bits... Errrr cents. :)
 
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According to the internets, the xbox one s (newer one) draws about 50 Watts while playing games (about as much as an incandescent bulb?), and the TV supposedly draws 200W, according to the sticker on the back.  



I had an idea that I would hook up a bicycle to run different things, like a washing machine (mechanically, not electrically) or a water pump, and sometimes to generate electricity.  I would hook it up to the washer so I could do some clothes, and at the same time have it hooked up to the battery bank so I could juice it up and then play a video game after (If I had time).  I don't know how any of this is going to work yet because my husband is the electricity guy, so he might burst my bubble and tell me this is impossible.  But I do want to see how much power the TV and xbox actually use with one of those digital meters.

Reading this article and doing this tiny bit of research has inspired me to shut off the power bar when I'm not using the TV and Xbox - the TV uses 1 Watt when it's turned off, and the Xbox one has a setting where it draws 12.5 W when it's not even on!  I don't know if mine does that, I'll have to fiddle with the settings and make sure its on power saver mode, and then shut off the power bar when I'm not using it.  Thanks for waking me up, I had no idea it was that significant!
 
Mark Tudor
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If you pedal hard enough, at say Olympic sprinting power levels, you could even slightly toast a piece of bread!


As a big guy using a poor man's power meter on my bike, I could maintain about 250 watts long enough to watch a show, and if I kept it closer to half that then just the numb butt cheeks limited my time on the saddle. I had thought connecting a washing machine to a recycled bike to spin the drum could be an interesting option, but maybe letting solar panels do it for me would work better!
 
Norma Guy
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The plan is to have a solar/wind system at home (husband builds experimental vertical windmills).  My thought was I could bike to add some extra "juice" to the system, to do extra things, like play a video game.  I don't think a bike with me on it would be able to directly power a TV, but I might get better at it with practice  I figured if I was doing my laundry with the bike anyway, I could throw another belt on it that was connected to something that makes power at the same time?  I'm just the spitballer, he's the guy who makes it happen.  https://inhabitat.com/cyclean-bike-powered-washing-machine/
 
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If you think gaming uses power, try Bitcoin mining!
 
pollinator
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I thought I'd particularly point out this quote in the article:

Cloud-based gaming, in which graphics processing is conducted on remote servers, is especially energy intensive, increasing overall electricity use by as much as 60 percent for desktop computers and 300 percent for laptops.


I believe I'm interpreting this accurately, in which case it's reminding people that their *own home* energy gaming footprint is only part of the issue, and can be controlled by only playing games that are isolated on their own computer. Any of those multi-player on-line games require a server somewhere out there that is gobbling electrons at a great rate, and I suspect that's what that "60%" electricity increase is referring to, but I'm not knowledgeable enough to be sure.

Do we have any permies out there who could hazard some intelligent guesses about how much electricity game servers are consuming? How much electricity is the server equivalent of permies dot com consuming anyone? (That doesn't mean I'm at *all* suggesting permies shouldn't carry on - at least we're getting people thinking about better ways of doing things! I'm just curious.)
 
Mark Tudor
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Yeah Norma I believe attaching a bike mechanically to a used washing machine is a great idea, and it can help with a trickle charge of batteries as well. I linked that video as I recall reading about a person who expected they could charge at a rate of 1200 watts using a bike thanks to gearing but I think that was without attaching a load. As we see the most elite athlete on the planet generated 700 watts for a while minute before he shut down from the extreme effort. A more casual pace for an hour or two might be enough to keep a chest freezer running on cloudy winter days, so I plan to try it and get it might even improve my health!
 
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This answers the question very nicely ->

https://www.amazon.com/P3-P4400-Electricity-Usage-Monitor/dp/B00009MDBU/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1543775906&sr=8-3&keywords=killawatt+meter

The killawatt meter tells you all the important information about your devices power needs.     Spoiler allert, your AC and your heater consume gobs of power.


 
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Interesting article from the Telegraph on the carbon produced by a Google search (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/google/4217055/Two-Google-searches-produce-same-CO2-as-boiling-a-kettle.html)
Estimates vary from 0.2 grams to 10 grams per search.


At 3.5 billion searches per day (www.internetlivestats.com/google-search-statistics/) thats between 700000000 grams (700 metric tons) and 35000000000 grams (35000 metric tons) of carbon per day. Just for Google. Holy smokes!
 
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@Jay Cloud-based gaming actually refers to games (can be single-player) where all the video processing and calculations are done on a remote server and the users computer only exchanges input-data for audio-visual data. This isn't commonly done yet, but it will improve efficiencies as it becomes the standard. (Server farms are very efficient, can multitask and are centralised for easy repair)
Normal multiplayer games involve only sending input-data and object-coordinates to all players, while all the processor-intensive rendering is done on the users computer.

The frugal way to game is to use non-gaming laptops and to play older games. This uses far less energy than traditional televisions. The cost of a gaming laptop is 2-3 times as much as an equivalent gaming desktop computer, so if you have scruples you may have to dig deep to afford the luxury of a moral high-ground.
 
pollinator
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TV1: 100W per Hour
TV2: 100W per Hour
Game Device: 100W per Hour

Hours Spent per day gaming 5Hrs
Daily Usage = 300W X 5Hrs = 1500WHr = 1.5kWH
Monthly Usage = 1.5kWH per day or 45kWhr per month
That is alot less fossil fuel/C02 than driving to the mall/beach/etc or on a monthly bases.

And even at the more extreme end it uses the same amount per household as laundry.  
 
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Mark Tudor wrote:I've tested various areas of energy use in the home with a kill-a-watt meter, and one part was my laptop, designated a "gaming" laptop due to dedicated video card and a larger screen size. The laptop uses about 100 watts continuous while playing a game that has higher demands. Newer processors have had lower energy demands, but video cards are the big gotcha, plus running multiple screens. It's a luxury in my opinion, like having a pool which is also a huge energy sink. Out here where electricity starts at 21cents/kwh at a minimum, and goes up to 40 per khw after the first couple hundred, I have coworkers that spend over $500/month on their utility bills, and why it seems almost everyone is adding grid-tied solar to their homes. My last bill was about $30, including $18 of electricity use, so I'm not so worried about it  


That "kill-a-watt" meter was a great investment, I now find myself plugging it in at friend's houses, now that I have myself (dialed in) at about $8 a month usage. I am a "gamer" myself...
 
pollinator
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Yes, this is a good point, Jay, and there is also the embodied energy in building those servers, and the fact that the cost of those monetarily is hidden from view by the fact that most of the companies building infrastructure (or the ones who indirectly fund their creation) are traded at such a remove from their actual value that the "bill" doesn't come in for decades.  The main point being removing ourselves from the feedback in our systems hampers our real learning.


Jay Angler wrote:I thought I'd particularly point out this quote in the article:

Cloud-based gaming, in which graphics processing is conducted on remote servers, is especially energy intensive, increasing overall electricity use by as much as 60 percent for desktop computers and 300 percent for laptops.


I believe I'm interpreting this accurately, in which case it's reminding people that their *own home* energy gaming footprint is only part of the issue, and can be controlled by only playing games that are isolated on their own computer. Any of those multi-player on-line games require a server somewhere out there that is gobbling electrons at a great rate, and I suspect that's what that "60%" electricity increase is referring to, but I'm not knowledgeable enough to be sure.

Do we have any permies out there who could hazard some intelligent guesses about how much electricity game servers are consuming? How much electricity is the server equivalent of permies dot com consuming anyone? (That doesn't mean I'm at *all* suggesting permies shouldn't carry on - at least we're getting people thinking about better ways of doing things! I'm just curious.)

 
Jondo Almondo
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Building computers does involve a lot of rare minerals that are environmentally harmful to mine.
But e-waste recycling in USA is at 30% and rising each year.

Netflix is one of the least efficient American server-farms - even still, it may be offset by the number of people staying home instead of driving to the cinemas/buying plastic-cased dvds.

The end-game of these cloud-service/server-farms is that they're efficient to repair/recycle, powered by renewables, utilising their own heat output ...
While the computer of the end-user requires less and less capacity and is eventually a simple 1-watt 'node' that outsources nearly all of its computation to the centralized utility.

Many of the [American] tech giant data-centres are built adjacent to solar/wind-farms - even locating the servers in countries where access to renewables is the sole criteria. Those that don't 'technically' use renewable power are nonetheless buying renewable power equivalence from the power utilities that essentially equates to subsidizing renewables on a vast scale.

In the last few years, the tech industry frequently chooses to focus on improving efficiency over capacity. It may not seem like it when you spot 2kilowatt computers for sale, but for every leap in performance, they want an equivalent leap in optimization.

It's the reason why we have smartphones and laptops that can run for 20hours without using bigger batteries. These tiny, efficient & inexpensive chips have a myriad of uses beyond personal computing - such as redistributing renewable energy around a micro-grid or maximizing the efficiency of industrial refridgeration units by communicating with the power utility service - using energy when its abundant, shutting down when the grid is stretched to breaking point.
Seen this way, server-farms are actually lessening the need to build more baseload powerstations, whilst being a prominent driver of the transition to clean energy.

/end techno-utopian rant
 
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