Friday, May 14, 2010

Energy Efficient Computers

I built a computer for the local ham radio club, to act as a repeater controller. When planning this out, it had to be energy efficient, and still have some horsepower for VOIP. I chose a Mini ITX form, because of the Intel Atom Dual Core. I wanted to use some spare CF Cards I had for the HDD, so I chose this motherboard because it also had an IDE interface. There are several alternatives, but that will be later.

Here are the parts I used:

My daughter helped me build this system, and then I went to install the OS on it. I hooked up my External USB DVD Drive, and began the install. I later realized I needed a bigger card, so I picked up the 4GB card, which reads around 30MB/Sec, and is just about as fast as a normal hard drive.

Overall, I got this system down to 27 Watts. I probably could have gotten it to be a little more efficient if I used a DC-DC 12v power supply, but I am happy with this build.

For those wanting to build a small computer designed to run all the time, be quiet, and not kill your electric bill, this is the way to do it. I have built another computer similar to this, and I crammed Windows XP SP3 onto a 2GB Flash card. That system was only a 800 MHz single core, but I got that down to 14 watts idle. That was running a VIA EPIA-800 on a DC-DC 12v power supply from They have several options that I wish I would have seen before. One of the cool things about the power supplies from is they are voltage versitle. You can run it in a car, and not worry about supplying 14 volts or 11 volts. They will take care of it for you, while not generating extra heat, or requiring a fan. They also have several pre-assembled systems. These are perfect for use in a car or for amateur radio hobbiests running a computer on 12 volts.