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How green is your PC?

Fiona Gatt, editor of the VIA Arena website, recently ran an experiment using a PC with an AMD FX55, 2.41GHz processor and an ATI X1900 GT graphics card. A Thermaltake power supply displayed the total wattage for each PC activity. Email drew 175W, Windows Movie Player drew 188W, but at the top of the pile were two games: Call of Duty (292W to 334W) and Blazing Angels (240W to 338W).

Combine these findings with the fact that many of us leave our machines on almost 24/7, consuming around 150 watts when we’re nowhere near them, and PC gamers might as well drive to the ice caps and start a bonfire with baby seals. Our sister mag, PC ZONE’s hardware editor Phil Wand says: “Most people don’t have a clue about being energy efficient, least of all when it comes to luxury items.”



Above: "Let's get out there and stab some trees!"

Nicholas Carr, author of the book Does IT Matter, agrees. “There are plenty of leisure activities, from reading to kicking a football to having sex, that leave far smaller carbon footprints (than gaming). If the choice is between playing World of Warcraft and flying a private jet, you’re going to use less energy playing the game. But for most people, that’s not the trade-off.”

Carr recently estimated the electricity consumption of the average Second Life citizen by combining an individual’s PC usage with SL’s power grid. It translated into 1.17 tons of CO2 production per virtual citizen per year - the equivalent of driving an SUV for 2,300 miles. “Gamers should be concerned about this, just as they should be concerned about other ways they consume energy. But I don’t think they need to feel guilty about it,” Carr reassures us.

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