The results were quite impressive with the GreenPC drawing 33 Watts, or 45 per cent, less than our test bed, at idle. Putting the PCs to task, the GreenPC’s power consumption rose to 69W while the test bed peaked at around 105W, which equates to a slightly smaller difference of 36W, or 35 per cent. When a high end graphics card was added to the equation, the difference became even more dramatic with our test bed idling at a full 100W and peaking at 200W, or 250 and 290 per cent more than the GreenPC, respectively.
Doing a quick calculation, taking the average cost of a unit of energy in the UK as being 10p and assuming the PC will be used for eight hours a day with a 75/25 per cent idle/peak usage pattern, you will be looking at a monthly saving of 81p, or £9.70 a year. Ok, so that’s a pretty small amount but if you work for a business with 100 PCs and, say, twenty of those are left on overnight, you’re looking at well over £1,000 in savings. Which, again, in the grand scheme of things isn’t a huge cost for a large business but, as they say, it all adds up.
So, the energy saving benefits are obvious but that, of course, is only half the story. If performance takes too big a hit then it’s all rather in vain. So, it’s good to see the GreenPC is quite capable of keeping up with our test bed in our 2D tests. The only task where it really struggled was with VirtualDub video encoding where the faster CPU on our test bed pulled ahead. PCMark05 showed similar trends though, interestingly, the HDD scores didn’t reflect the subjective differences I observed.
Very PC ships its PCs with a well thought out selection of software that includes many open source, and thus free, programs. To start there is the Mozilla Foundation duo of Firefox and Thunderbird, to take care of web browsing and email. For office duties, you get OpenOffice, which includes a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, database, and scientific calculation software. Finally you get one year’s Kaspersky anti-virus thrown in as well. The best bit, though, is if you opt for a full five years subscription to Kaspersky, at £25 a year, you also get full warranty for this extended period, which has to be the single best after sales offer I’ve ever come across.
The GreenPC succeeds in cutting power consumption by a significant margin and comes with one of the best software and support packages I’ve come across, so it’s very close to being recommended. However, when running Windows Vista, it simply doesn’t have enough RAM and performance suffers as a result. So, I’d either recommend getting more RAM or downgrading to Windows XP to maintain satisfactory performance.