Next to the air conditioning unit, the refrigerator, the watching machine, or the microwave oven, a gaming computer is one of the most power-hungry electronics in the house. At times, it can easily rival a small microwave oven’s power consumption; but it’s worse since microwave ovens don’t run for hours on end, unlike plugged computers. That’s why it’s a good idea to reduce your gaming PC power consumption.
Thankfully, there are several ways you can lower your gaming PC power consumption. Most of them are free and not too intrusive while others will require you to fork out a bit of cash for long-term savings.
But regardless, you ought to at least consider trying out some of these electricity-saving tips to reduce your gaming PC power consumption. Though the savings in your electricity bill likely won’t amaze you, every little step helps, and at least you can rule out some factors.
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Unplug The PC While It’s Off
You’ve probably heard of this advice for most appliances, but unplugging them habitually when they’re shut down has more benefits than just saving electricity.
In the event of a lightning or power surge in your area, you can rest assured that your expensive appliances won’t get fried or shorted, since they’re not plugged in.
Those anomalous occurrences still happen to appliances even when they’re turned off. Of course, the usual reasoning is that they still draw power as long as they’re plugged in. You can even test this out with your home’s electric meter.
Work on a Laptop, Game on a PC
This tip assumes that you already have a laptop in addition to a PC, but even if you don’t, it still helps to have a backup computer anyway.
A mid-range gaming PC consumes anywhere from 300 to 500 watts of power during heavy gaming sessions. When it’s idle or if you’re just browsing or working (typing, browser work, excel sheets, etc.), this powers down to below 100 watts (give or take) to conserve electricity.
But even with the idle power draw, that consumption is still quite substantial. If you have a laptop with a working battery, you can opt to work there instead. Shut down your gaming PC while working and then unplug it for maximum savings.
The light digital work on a laptop usually doesn’t drain the battery that much. And lighter laptops such as the MacBook or thin notebooks from reputable non-Apple brands have some decent battery life (above 10 hours).
Cap the FPS in Your Games
But what if you’re gaming? How do you lower gaming PC power consumption? Well, most games have the option in the graphical or video settings to cap the framerate or FPS to a set amount. It’s usually 60 FPS or 120 FPS, the increments could be higher or lower depending on the game.
But in any case, what this does is limit your GPU’s workload. Since there’s an FPS cap, the GPU will stop maxing itself out in the power draw once it reaches the FPS cap. Thus, it will be drawing less power.
It’s not clear how much you’ll save here, but the GPU can draw anywhere from 20 to even a hundred watts less. Since you’ll likely be playing for hours, then the savings could be substantial.
Do note that this trick only works if your GPU is powerful and its framerate output can surpass 60 FPS or even 100 FPS.
Undervolt the GPU
Undervolting does wonders if your GPU is already putting out a high framerate. Hence, this tip is similar to limiting your FPS. But instead of passing the power-saving effort to the software or game, you’ll be instructing the hardware instead via software like MSI Afterburner.
Undervolting is basically feeding your GPU less power, reducing its performance and framerate output. This is applicable for GPUs released past 2015 or 2016 or more recently. The performance reduction is negligible anyway.
In addition to saving power, your GPU will also be producing less heat, which helps a lot in prolonging its lifespan.
Undervolting is a bit advanced so you’ll want to follow this step-by-step guide from GitHub to get it right. Make sure to scroll down to the Undervolting section to get started.
Tune Your Sleep Mode Settings
Windows can also help a lot in reducing gaming PC power consumption. It has power usage settings and instructions that let you tune or automate what your PC does when it’s been idle for too long.
Here’s how you can customize your Sleep Mode Settings:
- Click Search on the taskbar, type Control Panel, and click it.
- Click System and Security.
- Look in the Power Options section, then click Change what the power buttons do.
- Click on Change settings that are currently unavailable.
- Here you can see which Sleep settings you can customize.
- Don’t forget to Save changes when you’re done.
Use a Different Browser
Sometimes, when multitasking with your browser, the PC components can get bogged down with unnecessary workload from browser extensions, ads, and other functions. Google Chrome is notorious for this. Sometimes the CPU will reach high utilization and the RAM will be maxed out if you open enough tabs.
As you can expect, this adds up to power consumption during idling. For such matters, you can choose to use a less resource-intensive browser such as Opera or Mozilla Firefox, especially if you don’t particularly need Google Chrome for the task.
You might even find those alternative browsers more responsive or less taxing once you get used to them.
Reduce Monitor Brightness
The monitor doesn’t really consume that much compared to the PC tower. You can double-check how much your monitor consumes by going to its online spec page or checking the box for wattage, but generally, the typical monitor consumes less than 100 watts.
Most LCD monitors just hover in the 30-40-watt range. The bigger and more suited for gaming they are, the higher the consumption, of course. A 27-inch gaming monitor, for example, can use as much as 85-100 watts.
Sure enough, this wattage will be higher if the desktop’s brightness settings are also high. Sometimes, you can also adjust brightness settings through the monitor itself. But lowering the monitor’s brightness can reduce gaming PC power consumption as a whole.
It could also help reduce your eye strain depending on the ambient lighting.
Get a High Efficiency-Rating Power Supply Unit (PSU)
Last but not least is something that might be out of the question if you already have it. But upgrading to a higher-quality power supply helps a bit.
Because while computers have a set wattage that needs to be fed into them, it’s the power supply unit’s job to draw all this power. Turns out some of this power goes to waste, depending on the power supply’s efficiency.
This is where the power supply rating comes in. There are bronze, silver, gold, and even platinum-rated power supplies. The shinier the metal, the higher the efficiency.
Platinum-rated power supplies, for example, are rated for 89 percent efficiency under full load. That means only 11 percent of the electricity it pulls goes to waste. Meanwhile, bronze-rated power supplies are only 80 percent efficient at full load. 20 percent of that electricity goes to waste and produces nothing but heat.
So if your bronze-PSU computer is drawing 500 watts, then 100 watts are going to waste. That’s quite a lot.
That’s how PCs and their power supply units have operated. So if you want to save a bit more power, then always go for the highest-rated power supply unit.
As always, it’s up to you which of these to try, but we recommend giving the free tips a shot. And we also recommend spreading the good word by sharing this article so that you can help the people you know to lower their gaming PC power consumption.