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Considering that this discussion came from the Win98 section... I'll add a completely different twist to the mix.

A lot of members on this discussion are talking about the smallest Linux or a Windows98 machine that's still running strong. Have you looked at your electricity bill?

Let me put it to you this way. I've got a modern file server, built with a C2D CPU, P35 motherboard, and 10 hard drives. At idle, the system draws about 150W from the wall. Now - my mother's computer is an eight-year-old Athlon XP 1Ghz, 256MB of RAM desktop. It draws about 125W at idle. Now - pull 9 of the hard drives out of my file server, and you're looking at a modern system that draws less electricity than the old one.

For those who understand cars a bit better - it's like shoving money into an old beater car because it "still works", as opposed to buying a newer car with better fuel economy, better safety, and overall better performance. There comes a point when maintaining an old vehicle simply becomes infeasible. Same thing applies to computers. I would never dream of personally running a computer that's more than 3 years old - purely on an electrical consumption POV. I gain back enough in saved energy costs on modern technology to make the switch worthwhile.

Oh, and if you're worried that a new system costs too much - just get yourself the ASUS EEE Box. That system is perfectly usable for day-to-day tasks, handles XP/Vista/Linux with ease, it's damned near silent, draws less than 50W AC (if my memory serves me correctly), it's small, and it's only $350. Chances are, the system would pay for itself in saved energy costs over the course of a year or so.

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Have you thought about the environment?

He's saving thousands of kWh. So I'd say yes. Not only he's saving on an individual computer, but when you can replace several old ones by a single modern PC (things like vmware help too), then you get amazing savings (this Core 2 Duo replaced 3 old boxes on its own -- a desktop, a box that was encoding nearly 24/7 and a vmware server). And more often than not, the upgrade pays for itself in power savings.

We don't throw away computer parts every 3 years.

3 years? I see talk about Celeron 633's in here and P166's. Those would be 8 and 12 years old respectively. That's near eternity in the PC world. Besides, even if you upgrade a lot, you don't necessarily throw away every part every 3 years (psu/case/hard drives/dvd-rw/etc are usually kept), and old parts can go in other computers (reused) or sold (makes upgrading even cheaper) or given away. Again, little to no impact on the environment.

Recent hardware is also less durable

Much the inverse, especially with all the boards now with all solid caps and all that.

mostly because you're going to upgrade before it breaks anyway.

And that makes it less durable how?

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Have you thought about the environment?
He's saving thousands of kWh. So I'd say yes. Not only he's saving on an individual computer, but when you can replace several old ones by a single modern PC (things like vmware help too), then you get amazing savings (this Core 2 Duo replaced 3 old boxes on its own -- a desktop, a box that was encoding nearly 24/7 and a vmware server). And more often than not, the upgrade pays for itself in power savings.
I guess that applies to you guys in North America who rely mostly on coal fired power stations but where I live we have mostly hydro-electricity. In Germany they have an extensive solar network and push people to install solar in their homes (I got the flag right didn't I BenoitRen?), but no doubt they still use coal too. Whilst energy savings add up in dollars, they may not necessarily equal environmental savings. I think BenoitRen was suggesting that Zxian's perspective doesn't necessarily include the pollution caused by manufacturing new parts (which is significant if you look at the cycle from mining raw materials through to disposing of the end product at its end of life). Whilst the new products may use less power (which depending on power source may or may not help the environment), if you look at the bigger picture it may not (depending on many factors). Because the old parts exist already, the energy and pollution required to produce them has already been used/created.

To go back to the car analogy suggested by Zxian, whilst I agree with his point on safety (and reliability is a clear factor as well), the overall idea is not quite that simple. Back in the early '90s I saw a study done here in Australia (wish I had it handy, I'll have to dig around and see if I still have it) which showed that driving an old car with significantly worse emissions and fuel economy was far more environmentally beneficial than buying a 'cleaner' new car (when you add the manufacturing and production emissions, from raw materials to end product). Obviously the longer the time frame you consider the closer the 2 become. I can't remember the time frame they suggested in the study but it was significant.

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..... old parts can go in other computers (reused) or sold (makes upgrading even cheaper) or given away. Again, little to no impact on the environment.
The impact to the environment occurs by buying the new product, this is even more-so the case if the old parts remain in use (if there are energy production emissions involved). Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you're completely wrong crahak, I'm just saying that the matter is much more complex than it appears on face value. Besides I upgrade fairly regularly myself so I'm being a bit of a devil's advocate really!
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Have you thought about the environment? We don't throw away computer parts every 3 years. Recent hardware is also less durable, mostly because you're going to upgrade before it breaks anyway.
Who said anything about throwing computer parts away? All of my old systems have seen their way onto local buy-and-sell programs, or I've even donated a few to a local school that needed office computers. Just because someone brings in the topic of "upgrade", you instantly assume that they just ditch the old parts at the side of the road? How do you think I've managed to afford the 10 hard drives in my file server? ...by selling the 6 that it used to have. :lol:

Like I said before, there comes a point when the electrical consumption of an old computer outweighs the cost of a new one (especially if you look at the EEE Box I linked to earlier). From a purely "green" point of view, here are some ideas towards the upgrade: lower power consumption, minimal packaging (and I mean minimal - the EEE Box is shipped in a box that's not much larger than that of your typical ATX motherboard), better usability (ever tried editing 10MP photos on a PIII? It's painful), etc.

Chances are, the EEE Box will serve a much longer useful life to most people than a PII did. Computer development is slowing down, as much as Intel and AMD don't want to admit it. How much more processing power do we all really need? How much lower power consumption can we really get? When the "next-gen" parts come out after this, it's really going to be counting peanuts compared to what we have today. Replacing that 125W beast upstairs with a 50W machine? Now that's a significant upgrade.

I guess that applies to you guys in North America who rely mostly on coal fired power stations but where I live we have mostly hydro-electricity. In Germany they have an extensive solar network and push people to install solar in their homes (I got the flag right didn't I BenoitRen?), but no doubt they still use coal too. Whilst energy savings add up in dollars, they may not necessarily equal environmental savings. I think BenoitRen was suggesting that Zxian's perspective doesn't necessarily include the pollution caused by manufacturing new parts (which is significant if you look at the cycle from mining raw materials through to disposing of the end product at its end of life). Whilst the new products may use less power (which depending on power source may or may not help the environment), if you look at the bigger picture it may not (depending on many factors). Because the old parts exist already, the energy and pollution required to produce them has already been used/created.
True, but on the otherhand, look at how many companies are advertising "green" these days. To be honest, the degree that the world has advertised their "environmental friendliness" is getting a bit out of hand. "Green hosting" from Dreamhost? Comon... I doubt that they've completely re-worked their infrastructure just to make the world a cleaner place.

Incidentally, where I live in Canada, a good portion of our electricity comes from hydro power as well. It's why our local electrical company is called BC Hydro. ;) They've been working a lot on reducing energy waste by replacing light bulbs with CFLs, having people monitor their energy usage, etc etc. Solar and wind power electricity generation have their effects as well - they take up a lot of land. While this might not be a significant factor in BC or Texas, it certainly is in Europe where things are much more crowded already. Oh... they kill birds too. Hooray for being green! (tongue-in-cheek)

To go back to the car analogy suggested by Zxian, whilst I agree with his point on safety (and reliability is a clear factor as well), the overall idea is not quite that simple. Back in the early '90s I saw a study done here in Australia (wish I had it handy, I'll have to dig around and see if I still have it) which showed that driving an old car with significantly worse emissions and fuel economy was far more environmentally beneficial than buying a 'cleaner' new car (when you add the manufacturing and production emissions, from raw materials to end product). Obviously the longer the time frame you consider the closer the 2 become. I can't remember the time frame they suggested in the study but it was significant.
Yes, but the amount of raw materials that goes into a car is considerably more than what goes into a computer. In Canada, companies can claim depreciation value on computer equipment that they've purchased. The value of this depreciation is 30% per year for 3 years. Essentially, the government is saying that a computer nearly all of it's value after 3 years.
The impact to the environment occurs by buying the new product, this is even more-so the case if the old parts remain in use (if there are energy production emissions involved). Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you're completely wrong crahak, I'm just saying that the matter is much more complex than it appears on face value. Besides I upgrade fairly regularly myself so I'm being a bit of a devil's advocate really!
Yes, you are playing devil's advocate here, and doing it well. But arguing that using a computer made in the era of Windows 98 is being "eco friendly" is a bit extreme. Not building/buying a newer, more energy efficient system today is working on plain hypocrisy.
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Firstly I'd like to acknowledge that we've pretty much hijacked ryaxnb's Linux thread and taken it off on a wild green tangent. Sorry dude! :whistle: Having said that.................

...From a purely "green" point of view, here are some ideas towards the upgrade: lower power consumption, minimal packaging (and I mean minimal - the EEE Box is shipped in a box that's not much larger than that of your typical ATX motherboard)...
Also many manufacturers are using less toxic substances in their manufacturing processes and factoring in recyclabilty (did I just make that word up?) of their products. Recycling of tech parts is becoming more efficient and accessible too.
Chances are, the EEE Box will serve a much longer useful life to most people than a PII did. Computer development is slowing down, as much as Intel and AMD don't want to admit it. How much more processing power do we all really need? How much lower power consumption can we really get? When the "next-gen" parts come out after this, it's really going to be counting peanuts compared to what we have today. Replacing that 125W beast upstairs with a 50W machine? Now that's a significant upgrade.
Very good point!
...look at how many companies are advertising "green" these days. To be honest, the degree that the world has advertised their "environmental friendliness" is getting a bit out of hand. "Green hosting" from Dreamhost? Comon... I doubt that they've completely re-worked their infrastructure just to make the world a cleaner place.
I agree 110%. As people's environmental consciousness has been raised, the 'green' label has become a marketing tool. I think the green credentials of many companies are somewhat suspect. Even big players like Toyota, on one hand producing the extremely fuel efficient and popular 'green' car, Prius. But simultaneously lobbying governments around the world to water down minimum fuel economy standards so it can still supply thirsty SUVs to those that are willing to buy them (with minimal R&D costs)!
Incidentally, where I live in Canada, a good portion of our electricity comes from hydro power as well. It's why our local electrical company is called BC Hydro. ;) They've been working a lot on reducing energy waste by replacing light bulbs with CFLs, having people monitor their energy usage, etc etc. Solar and wind power electricity generation have their effects as well - they take up a lot of land. While this might not be a significant factor in BC or Texas, it certainly is in Europe where things are much more crowded already. Oh... they kill birds too. Hooray for being green! (tongue-in-cheek)
I didn't realise that BC had significant hydro power (though I guess it shouldn't be too surprising). CFLs are another interesting point of the complexity of 'green' issues. Whilst they are more energy efficient and last longer (thus use less raw materials), they comprise of lots of nasty heavy metals that are often released when disposed of. You just can't win! :wacko:
Yes, but the amount of raw materials that goes into a car is considerably more than what goes into a computer.
Fair call.
Yes, you are playing devil's advocate here, and doing it well. But arguing that using a computer made in the era of Windows 98 is being "eco friendly" is a bit extreme. Not building/buying a newer, more energy efficient system today is working on plain hypocrisy.
Hehe, my girlfriend delights in reminding me of one time when she accused me of hypocracy and I turned to her straight faced and replied "I never claimed not to be a hypocrite!". Enough said! :hello:
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Who said anything about throwing computer parts away? All of my old systems have seen their way onto local buy-and-sell programs, or I've even donated a few to a local school that needed office computers.
Why would they use your already-old-and-not-so-green hardware when they could buy themselves newer, greener, etc. hardware, huh?

It all looks exactly the same to me: my neighbor has a good job (while I'm unemployed, BTW) and when he buys himself a new computer, he gives the old one to me instead of dumping it. So why bashing the people that are unfortunate enough not to afford a shiny new x-core machine, for using whatever they can get?

Anyway, going down the 'energy saving' path, the way I see things is manufacturers have no intention whatsoever to produce longstanding pieces of hardware, because the competition (I'm not gonna debate what kind of competition this is) would drive them to bankrupcy. So they keep producing cr*p that many times doesn't even reach (not to mention exceed) the warranty period.

Along this line, people that cannot afford new hardware every x months/years would be much happier with older but more reliable hardware that would hold for years, than being able to use newer hardware for a limited amount of time and then suddenly find themselves with just a pile of rubbish on their desks. For I've seen too many modern mobos with gonflated capacitors (I've replaced a few myself), while a couple 286 boards (probably 15-20 years old) that I keep around were still working a few months ago when I tested them just for kicks.

In my opinion, the amount of energy, resources and everything wasted in this manufacturing process is way higher than whatever the end user could potentially save by using these 'new' products.

As for Linux, all Knoppix mirrors I've checked at the time were only providing DVD versions of the 5.3.1 - the rest was 5.1.1 which I've already downloaded but have not yet burnt to disk. And to be honest, the only time I couldn't install Windows (XP) was a Tualatin CPU that wasn't well supported by the mobo although the manual said it should; Win98SE installed and ran just fine though. On the other hand I already had multiple failures at installing/running different versions of Linux, incidentally (or not???) on branded machines such as Dell and Hewlett-Packard.

I think nobody can blame me for not trying...

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Why would they use your already-old-and-not-so-green hardware when they could buy themselves newer, greener, etc. hardware, huh?
Mostly on the basis of cost. In BC, the education system is strapped for money as is, and last time I checked, the school system doesn't have to pay for electricity like the rest of us do. Accepting used hardware for free, while getting electricity for free, which comes from hydro sources (about as green as it gets).... that's a pretty good deal.
It all looks exactly the same to me: my neighbor has a good job (while I'm unemployed, BTW) and when he buys himself a new computer, he gives the old one to me instead of dumping it. So why bashing the people that are unfortunate enough not to afford a shiny new x-core machine, for using whatever they can get?
If that's all that you can afford, then that's one thing. However... I'll suggest again that you look at your electricity bill (if you pay it). You'd be surprised at how much it costs to run everything in your house. It might cost a bit up front, but in the end, chances are that you'll save a bit of money.
Anyway, going down the 'energy saving' path, the way I see things is manufacturers have no intention whatsoever to produce longstanding pieces of hardware, because the competition (I'm not gonna debate what kind of competition this is) would drive them to bankrupcy. So they keep producing cr*p that many times doesn't even reach (not to mention exceed) the warranty period.
Not always true. There are good brands and bad brands. I can't count the number of dead MSI or ECS boards that have passed through my hands, and yet names like ASUS or Gigabyte keep on going strong. A friend of mine is running a previous system of mine with a ASUS CUV4X motherboard and PIII 1GHz. I managed to strip that down to the minimum so that it pulls 80W at load before giving it to her. For what she does (internet, documents, email), it works perfectly well and still manages to keep power consumption low enough that it's not worth the upgrade.
In my opinion, the amount of energy, resources and everything wasted in this manufacturing process is way higher than whatever the end user could potentially save by using these 'new' products.
That might be your opinion, but it's nowhere near the true facts. Manufacturing processes have been locked down due to environmental and health reasons. Unused silicon at Intel is now recycled, whereas before (in the Pentium days) they would simply throw away the parts of the wafers that didn't make the cut (literally). Several manufacturers are now moving to simplistic packaging (Thermalright in particular) without the need for fancy logos and plastic packaging. There has been a shift back to simple packaging and OEM packaging comapred to before. I bought a network card a few weeks ago, and all it came in was a plastic shell, just large enough to cover the card - nothing more. No paper, no CDs, no printed cardboard. Once the card was installed, I put the package in the recycling. I don't think anyone could fault that system for not being "green".

I'm not dissing the idea of using old computers at all. I'm just saying that keeping an old computer for the sake of not buying a new one (when there are several legitimate reasons for doing so) is just silly. I'd personally recommend that anyone who can, ditch your Northwood and Prescott based P4 systems, since they draw far more power than they're worth, dispite being "only" 3 or 4 years old.

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He's saving thousands of kWh.

"Replacing that 125W beast upstairs with a 50W machine"

Well, if it runs 24/7 (but I guess turning it off at night would double the figures :rolleyes: ), the difference is 75Wh/h, that's 657KWh/year, hardly "thousands". Also at the price of the KWh here (~14eurocents), it's about 137USD a year. Or am I doing it wrong ?

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Well, if it runs 24/7, the difference is 75Wh/h, that's 657KWh/year, hardly "thousands".

675kWh/year over a few years of lifetime is definitely "thousands". And if you replace a few PCs with a single modern PC (just like I explained I did in my previous post), you're going from say, 3x 125W down to 50, over a few years, it's thousands alright.

And yep. ~$135 or so per year sounds about right at that rate. That's about $400 saved over a 3 year period (or about $1750 if you replaced 3 PCs like I did).

New hardware also often have better power saving support (e.g. S3/sleep that actually works), so you can save money without having to shutdown a lot.

Edited by crahak
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Wow was that a long read to come to this post :P.

There are good brands and bad brands. I can't count the number of dead MSI or ECS boards that have passed through my hands, and yet names like ASUS or Gigabyte keep on going strong.
Well, also the "bad" builders are getting less "bad" these days. I´m now using for example Biostar motherboards that come with solid capacitors too in the area where it´s needed and ASRock has motherboards that are completely sticked with the solid ones. But, if we talk about low consumption motherboards than ASUS and Gigabyte would be high in the list indeed; they use good mosfet voltage regulators AND good a written BIOS. You would say that a BIOS doesn´t do much, which is true, but if the power-save function isn´t well written* than systems with for example Cool´n´Quiet or EIST have no use of these functions at all, or at least not that much as it should be.

By the way, when we talk about "green stuff/power" than the only really green solution would be solar power. Hydro dams make big changes in environments too, so animals and plants could disappear from those arias, while, like some said, wind generators in form of a mill also kill birds but with a redesign that could be solved (wind tunnel/capturers).

By the way, fuel cells are now the hype, seen in laptop design and photo cameras for example, any thoughts on that?

(*)

New hardware also often have better power saving support (e.g. S3/sleep that actually works), so you can save money without having to shutdown a lot.
And that :).
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"Replacing that 125W beast upstairs with a 50W machine"

Well, if it runs 24/7 (but I guess turning it off at night would double the figures :rolleyes: ), the difference is 75Wh/h, that's 657KWh/year, hardly "thousands". Also at the price of the KWh here (~14eurocents), it's about 137USD a year. Or am I doing it wrong ?

You're perfectly correct about all the numbers, but my mother's computer is a fairly benign example as far as used computers go. Look at every generation of P4 processors from Williamette to Prescott (ignore Cedar Mill... that was a useless version of P4). Each revision consumed more power at idle and at load, and it wasn't until Intel moved back to the Pentium III base that power consumption dropped again (PIII->Banias->Dothan->Sonoma->Core Duo). The recent move to Halfnium based transistors (it's not the 45nm process, it's the Hf) has dropped power consumption even more.

I've measured my friend's computer (P4 Prescott, 3.2GHz) and it draws nearly 200W at idle, roughly 260 at load. My previous iteration of my desktop, which used an E2160 for the processor ran faster, drew less power (140W at load), and would be a measly $70 upgrade for him today. Do the numbers for yourself, but again - it pays for itself after a short while.

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Here where I live, the cost of electricity is ~0.10¢ USD per KWH (nuclear+hydro). That means that the 125W PC setup uses 3KWh/day, or 0.30¢/day. Making the assumption it's on 24/7/365, it's ~$110/year. ~$110/year isn't much, honestly, but if hundreds of millions of PCs were made more efficient (say, 25W/day vs 125W == .6KWh/day, or 0.06¢/day, or ~$22/year), we'd save a lot economically as a whole, not to mention using far less electricity (however it's delivered).

Does it save the individual a lot of money, really? No. Does it really help the environment, even when we're generating nuclear, wind, or hydro power? Probably, although it's debatable as to how much.

Should we do it if we can (and not everyone can, but I have a feeling most here can)? Honestly, why would we not?

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I've measured my friend's computer (P4 Prescott, 3.2GHz) and it draws nearly 200W at idle, roughly 260 at load.

Funnily, one of the 3 PCs my E2160 box replaced was a P4 Prescott (519J), and it ran pretty darn hot too... I'm going to to replacing the last old box we got left around pretty soon (one likely reusing my E2160, upgrading that one to a quad core). But the 2nd box is going to be either a Intel Atom or VIA Nano -- it doesn't get much greener than those two (~20W at full load for the board + CPU iirc).

While I also have cheap hydro power at $0.10/kWh (sorry puntoMX), some of the upgrades still do pay for themselves. A bunch of smaller older hard drives will often use more in electricity over ~3 years than a new bigger/faster drive costs in the first place.

Also, in a lot of places, the power savings are nearly doubled. Yes, during winter the extra watts might be a non-issue, but during summer, it means a higher electricity bill due to AC (I like it cold).

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