Build Your Own Total System Power Analyzer

Overall Score

As discussed earlier, power consumption is not quite as straight forward was one may think.  Typical measurements are done with consumer level meters, measuring total system power, and deriving conclusions for individual components under review.  The advantage of extracting power for all voltages supplied to the system is that individual contributions to the system power can be observed an analyzed; however, even this approach is not optimal.  In most cases, the +12, +5, and +3.3 VDC supplies are regulated for each component installed in the system, and these regulators are themselves not 100% efficient.  The power used by any individual part of the system is still elusive.

What we can derive from these observations, though, are the dynamic interactions of memory, chipset, CPU, and GPU for any given load and, using clever experiments, begin to understand at a first pass why information on system power varies so wildy from one review to another.  We will demonstrate the difference, for example, using different load applications and how power is drawn overall.

The first data is to demonstrate the capability of the device.  Power was measured under the following conditions, boot to idle, Cinebench R10 32 bit versions, Prime95 (the most commonly used stress test and load application), and a OCCT 2.0a, a overclockers utility.

The system used to in these test is listed as:

  • Asus Striker Extreme BIOS 1901
  • Intel QX6700 @ 2.66 GHz at stock voltage, cooled with a Zalman 9700 HSF
  • 2 Gigs of Corsair DDR2-800 C4 memory @ 1.8 V
  • nVidia 8800GTX (EVGA branded)
  • System hard drive is a WD 150 G Raptor
  • 2nd data hard drive is a Seagate 500 GB
  • OS: Vista Ultimate 32 Bit (non-activated) SP1
  • Software: Cinebench R10, Prime95 (version XXXX), OCCT 2.0.1a

In addition to collecting power consumed for all voltage inputs to the MB from the PSU, total system power was also measured at the wall using a WattsUP Pro ES and logged simultaneously.

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