Linked by Howard Fosdick on Wed 4th Aug 2010 18:19 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems In previous OSNews articles I've claimed that discarded computers up to ten years old can be refurbished and made useful to someone. They shouldn't be discarded. They should be refurbished -- fixed up and reused -- rather than recycled -- destroyed and separated into their constituent materials. So how does one do this? In this and several subsequent articles, I'll describe how to revitalize older computers.
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Comment by iliks
by iliks on Wed 4th Aug 2010 21:24 UTC
iliks
Member since:
2008-07-08

Old computers are less energy efficient. Probably it's economically wiser in the long term to buy _current_ not very powerful hardware than to resort to old stuff that consumes a lot of power for its mediocre performance...

Reply Score: 6

RE: Comment by iliks
by Morgan on Thu 5th Aug 2010 02:31 in reply to "Comment by iliks"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

This is true, and a similar situation was discussed in a Slashdot post a week or so ago regarding an unused G5 tower. The overwhelming sentiment in the comments was to sell it and use the money to buy a couple of new, energy efficient mini-PCs (or an older Intel Mac mini if OS X was a requirement).

That being said, I've found that some of the PIII/PIV era microATX based systems by Compaq and Acer were fairly conservative in electricity requirements even compared to modern systems. For example, I'm running this Core2Duo system with the smallest possible power supply (400 watts) and it comes close to being too little power. In contrast, a PIII Compaq Deskpro I recently refurbished for a friend uses a power supply rated at 180 watts max, and as she just uses it for writing and light, text-based web browsing (i.e. mostly idle even when in use) it's probably using no more than half of that.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by iliks
by Dave_K on Thu 5th Aug 2010 14:40 in reply to "RE: Comment by iliks"
Dave_K Member since:
2005-11-16

For example, I'm running this Core2Duo system with the smallest possible power supply (400 watts) and it comes close to being too little power.


Have you actually measured its power consumption?

I can't imagine a Core2Duo system drawing that much power unless it has a high end and inefficient graphics card.

In contrast, a PIII Compaq Deskpro I recently refurbished for a friend uses a power supply rated at 180 watts max, and as she just uses it for writing and light, text-based web browsing (i.e. mostly idle even when in use) it's probably using no more than half of that.


My 2.8Ghz Athlon X2 media centre draws under 40W idle and around 65W under full onboard graphics/CPU load. It uses a 130W fanless PSU without any problems.

The PIII might well use a bit less, but not enough to put a dent in an electricity bill.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: Comment by iliks
by r_a_trip on Thu 5th Aug 2010 09:24 in reply to "Comment by iliks"
r_a_trip Member since:
2005-07-06

Old computers are less energy efficient. Probably it's economically wiser in the long term to buy _current_ not very powerful hardware than to resort to old stuff that consumes a lot of power for its mediocre performance...

When looking at it from a "this is my wallet" perspective, that might be true. But is it still true when looking at the energy and resources bill of the overall lifetime of a machine? Is continually scrapping/recycling and using a new machine better than just using a slightly older and less energy efficient machine longer?

Put another way, is the process of rapidly and continuously scrapping/recycling and reproducing a machine equal or less taxing on the environment than using an older less energy efficient machine? Is the waste of energy by using an older machine enough of an offset to justify scrapping/recycling the old one and producing a new machine?

I consciously say scrapping/recycling here, because selling that machine does not prevent energy waste. The buyer most probably won't use it as a doorstop.

Reply Parent Score: 3

seanpk Member since:
2009-11-17

I would like to see the numbers on that ... how long is the "long term" before we start to realize the benefit.
I would be shocked if it was within the typical 1 year warranty period for a new system.

In addition to the simple intersection of when:
refurb cost + power = new cost + power
you have to consider:
1. the time-preference of money (I might prefer to - or have to - spend less money now even if it costs more in the long run)
2. the risk of the new computer failing after the warranty period has elapsed and before it has become a savings

It is true the new computer would offer better performance than the old, but if the old provides what you need ... that's kind of the point here, isn't it, that for some people's computer usage (probably not yours, and definitely not mine), a 5 to 10 year old computer will do the trick.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: Comment by iliks
by RavinRay on Fri 6th Aug 2010 14:36 in reply to "Comment by iliks"
RavinRay Member since:
2005-11-26

My impression is that many of today's desktop gaming PCs sport the newer nVidia and ATI video cards that eat up a lot of watts; whereas the old PCI cards are thrifty by comparison.

We have a 1996-era FIC PA-2002 PC with an AMD 90MHz K5. I've since gotten an Asus TUV4X in 2001 with a 1GHz Celeron which I share with my mom. I refurbish the FIC in stages: adding a Kingston Turbochip 400, followed by a AcceleraPCI (both via eBay) that will sport the Celeron once the Pentium III 1.4GHz I ordered for the Asus arrives. I maxed the memory to 128MB. WinXP runs well enough that my mom can use it for her own needs once I'm done. It doesn't need a 300+ watt power supply, and I'd guess the power consumption should be reasonable.

Edited 2010-08-06 14:37 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: Comment by iliks
by cemptor on Fri 6th Aug 2010 19:03 in reply to "Comment by iliks"
cemptor Member since:
2010-06-16

Yes older computers are generally less efficient. However on an absolute level, older processors consume less power.

Reply Parent Score: 1