CLASP and Partners’ Computer Analyses Provide New Insights for US Energy Efficiency Policies

In an effort to support the California Energy Commission (CEC) and the US Department of Energy (DOE) in developing new energy efficiency standards for computers, CLASP collected and analyzed computer performance data for products that are not registered under the US ENERGY STAR program – hitherto the only resource for US computer performance data.

The two resulting analyses, Energy Consumption of Computers in the Chinese Market and Energy Consumption of Gaming Computers in the US Market collectively demonstrate that a significant share of non-ENERGY STAR qualified computers sold in the US already meet the typical energy consumption (TEC) requirements for ENERGY STAR Version 6 (v6).

Due to the scarcity of public data on non-ENERGY STAR qualifying computers in the US, CLASP collected data on China’s computer market, which significantly overlaps with the US in terms of manufacturers and models – providing relevant information for the US market. Additionally, the project team – consisting of CLASP, Fiona Brocklehurst, and Jonathan Wood – collected technical specifications and performance data for 128 gaming computer models sold in the US to assess the ability of high-performance gaming computers to meet the TEC requirements for ENERGY STAR v6.

The project team analyzed both sets of data with reference to ENERGY STAR requirements, and drew the following key conclusions. As of August, 2013:

  • 92% of desktops and 98% of notebooks on the Chinese market could met the TEC limits for ENERGY STAR v5.2.
  • 49% of desktops in China’s market met energy consumption limits that are 30% lower than ENERGY STAR v5.2, which is roughly equivalent to ENERGY STAR v6.
  • 57% of Chinese laptops met energy consumption limits 40% below ENERGY STAR v5.2, which is roughly equivalent to ENERGY STAR v6.
  • In the US, gaming computers equipped with more than half of the motherboards in the sample are already within 20% of the TEC limits required by ENERGY STAR v6. Some of the highest performance computers, such as units with the X79 chipset configurations, were able to meet v6 TEC requirements. In other words, a significant number of gaming computers on the US market already qualify, or are close to qualifying for v6.
  • In the US, the data shows no significant correlation between computing or graphic performance and overall system energy consumption; some of the highest performance models had lower energy consumption than ENERGY STAR v6. This indicates that computing performance is not a barrier to achieving the ENERGY STAR efficiency benchmark.

Despite differences in test methodology, which both analyses address in detail, the data suggests that a significant number of computers in the US market already meet TEC requirements for ENERGY STAR v6.

CLASP has submitted both reports to the DOE and CEC for consideration in their respective standard development processes. CEC plans to release a first draft of its proposed minimum energy performance standards this month.

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