Build Your Own Total System Power Analyzer

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Power is a concept that is often misused throughout the enthusiast community, many people do not truly understand the concepts or use terms and spec conditions out of context. In order to shed light on how total system power varies within the actual platform the actual power for all inputs need to be understood. This article has described in some detail how to build a device that can measure all power consumed by the entire platform simultaneously.

In addition we have shown several cases where power consumed by one load can differ, from slightly, to a large amount depending on the application. In order of thermal stress to the CPU itself, Prime 95 stressed the CPU line the least, and also showed some consumption along the 5 and 12 volt motherboard supply. While small, it is not insignificant and a ‘power at the wall’ measurement would show both giving roughly the same power consumed. By far and away, the best stress test (thermally) for a CPU is the OCCT tool, which uses some variant of Linpack to exercise the computational power in the socket.

Taking power measurements in this fashion opens up a whole new area where computer systems can be evaluated and reported to the end user. With clever setups, various BIOS tweaks, and some elbow grease, a completely new way of looking at CPUs, chipsets, hard drives and even video cards can be developed. Building this is actually the easy part, all the necessary materials are available off the shelf, and if you use the break out boards rather than generate your own PCB, the entire project can be down without heating up a single soldering iron. Considering the emphasis placed on power consumption in general, and the general lack of information from all but a hand full of hard core hardware sites, there is hoping others will also pick up on the Xbitlab’s idea the run away with it, then we can see in much more detail how power is truly used within the platform.


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