California Announces First US PC Efficiency Standards

/ 8 years ago



With climate change looming on the horizon, increased efficiency is more critical than ever for our growing catalogue of electronic gadgets. Since 2013, the EU has implemented the ErP or EuP standards to cut down on idle power draw but the rest of the world has been lagging behind. In a first for the US, California has instituted the first set of energy efficiency standards for newly sold PCs in the country.

The new standards are mostly aimed at reducing power consumption when the PC is off or idle. Combined with standards requiring the use of efficient technologies in monitors, the efficiency gains are expected to save $40 over 5 years while costing only $10 upfront. The first round of standards must be met by January 1st, 2019 while a more stringent set will come into effect on July 1st, 2021. Overall, the savings will reduce power drawn by the covered devices by one-third. While only California is covered, the fact that it is the largest market in the US means most firms will likely design their products to meet the standard rather than having to spin up a new production line. It could even have impacts outside of the US and into other countries as well.

By targeting only idle power consumption when the PC is “off”, the new standards won’t interfere with the raw peak performance. So rest assured, your massive rigs won’t be impacted as long as they can drive down their idle power consumption. Many industry members like HP, Intel, Dell, and Lenovo have all signed off of the new measures. In fact, many devices already meet the standards with 73% of laptops already covered. Desktops, however, are in much worse shape, with only 10% meeting the bar.

For the DIY market, this will hopefully mean a renewed focus on power efficiency. While core components like CPUs and GPUs have been on the forefront, other components, most notably PSUs have been a bit lacking. The 80 PLUS standards for instance generally only consider efficiency at moderate loads, with not rating for lower usage modes. Perhaps this will incentivize the industry to move forward innovate on the matter.

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