building a low power consuming laptop?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by thumb, May 31, 2006.

  1. thumb macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 8, 2005
    #1
    Hi all,

    I am interested in finding out the possible range of power consumption on modern laptops. specifically apple, but i have a feeling there is not much range there.

    has anyone tried to maximize power consumption instead of performance? I don't mean setting energy usage in control panel, but rather specific component upgrades (or in this case maybe downgrades) like memory, hard drive, a certain processor, etc. The screen is of course the biggest consumer of wattage, any ideas which consumes the least?

    I would love to get a machine that runs closer to 40W than the 65-80 of recent mac laptops. this would make it more possible to run the laptop off of solar panels while travelling.

    are any of you aware of how this might be done in the pc world. i am very unfamiliar with the technology over there.

    thank you, and i will repost here any progress i make.
     
  2. Mord macrumors G4

    Mord

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2003
    Location:
    UK
    #2
    the macboo consumes about 35w or so, it needs to be able the charge and be run at full tilt.
     
  3. thumb thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 8, 2005
    #3
    where can i find information on the *actual* watt usage of a particular system? for instance, the macbook uses a 60w adapter (which is of course not the power used but the power available) and its battery is 55w. I would have considered the battery wattage to be closer the actual running consumption, plus a bit of leeway for firewire plugins and what not.

    where did you find the 35w number (if that is right, that is really quite good)?
     
  4. Mord macrumors G4

    Mord

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2003
    Location:
    UK
    #4
    remember bus powered stuff running full tilt burning a DVD with the HD spun up.
     
  5. thumb thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 8, 2005
  6. BlizzardBomb macrumors 68030

    BlizzardBomb

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2005
    Location:
    England
    #6
    I'm almost certain that the 35W figure is ONLY for the processor not the HD, screen etc. I'm not too sure myself, as I could find anything on Apple's Tech Specs but I would guess at <70W.

    Intel do certain ULV (ultra-low-voltage) and LV (you guessed it, low voltage) processors. As for Hard Drives, maybe a smaller capacity, 5400rpm one would spin less but don't quote me on that. Newer DDR2 RAM consumes less power than normal RAM. As for the screen, keeping it on low brightness will extend your battery life further.

    Hope that helped.
     
  7. thumb thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 8, 2005
    #7
    me again,

    i should be clearer. i am not looking at how to tweak my current tibook to maximize battery life (well, in general of course i am, but not in this thread).

    what i would like to start playing around with is trying to build from available parts a low power usage low performance laptop that uses as few watts as possible. i would like it to be able to do some web surfing, email and word processing. a small, low power screen is of course paramount.

    I am asking here for any suggestions of previous macs that "just happen" to be low power consuming that can then be modded. i dont think there is much of build your own mac community.

    otherwise, i am happy to start completely from scratch and try this over in the windows world or linux. my goal is see how close (i dont think i will succeed) i can get a reasonably performing laptop to run off of solar panels (not to recharge the battery, that is easy to do but requires alot of solar panels for todays batteries, but to run off of the panels) to do this requires a regulator fromthe panels for even power, but i am not even concerning myself with that yet. right now, i just want to see how low i can get the wattage for a laptop that still do useful things.

    thanks, any advice or places to look would be most helpful.
     
  8. BlizzardBomb macrumors 68030

    BlizzardBomb

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2005
    Location:
    England
    #8
    Might not be what you want to hear, but it would be easier to build a PC from the ground up.
     
  9. bbrosemer macrumors 6502a

    bbrosemer

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2006
    #9
    This would be much easier to do from a desktop point of view. And losing the idea of trying to run the monitor off of solar power would probably be best. As for watt usage, you are looking at probably at the lowest 30 watts and that is if you configure your processor to run at a much lower clock. You really would need a ULV processor, and wow good luck with this one.
     
  10. thumb thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 8, 2005
    #10
    here are the main reasons i am doing this.

    almost no newish computer is built for lowest power consumption. some are built to maximize performance for given power consumption (notably laptops) but still the emphasis is on performace (which makes sense, no one seems to want to buy otherwise).

    the MIT 100 dollar laptops of course also need low power consumption (spinning that hand crank would get boring) but there the 100 dollar limit seems to be the biggest constraint. i dont mind spending more than that.

    i am not trying to get this to be the smallest lightest coolest design either. I would love to be able to do this from normal components and minor to major modifications, but well within the build your own framework.

    the reason i think this is possible is that you can come pretty close without even trying. the mac mini uses something ridiculously little like 12-20 W for normal operation (at least some g4 versions, i dont know about intel ones, does any one else??). Energy star ratings give a couple of 15" lcd displays running usage of 13.5 W.

    without trying, these are getting close to low enough wattage that affordable and sort of portable solar panels could run the machines.
     

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