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Author Topic: Saving Money With A Laptop  (Read 562 times)

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Online andrewfi

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Saving Money With A Laptop
« on: December 09, 2022, 09:09:37 AM »
A few years ago, I built a PC. It was designed to last me for a decade, the same time as my previous desktop. So, it had a top of the line consumer level processor from AMD the Ryzen 2700x, any higher and it would have been a Threadripper which was just silly for my needs.

The graphics card was a mid-packing thing that works just fine to run two or three monitors in 4K.

The system is just fine, exceeds my day to day needs. But there is a problem, It drinks electricity and I have it on 24/7 to run my Plex server for movies and music both at home and when I travel. That was not a problem when power was cheap and here it was very cheap. Now, not so much.

Earlier this year I tried an experiment to see if a laptop could do the job. It could. I was running two 32" 4K monitors and the thing worked pretty well. As proof of concept it was fine, but it was definitely slower and the second monitor was running at just 30HZ which is not ideal. Also, running all my hard drives was a bit of a problem. On the upside, power consumption was only about 10% of that needed by the desktop machine.

A few weeks ago, I pulled the trigger an bought a new laptop. I got a new monitor chucked in with the deal. I bought an external hard drive enclosure and a hub that also houses an NVME drive for my documents and other 'work' files.

I have to say, it works really well. I specced the machine to be about as powerful as the AMD RX2700x and it is. I only have 16GB of RAM as compared to 32GB on the desktop but that's not an issue as the memory was a bit of willy waving rather than needed.

The system, like the testbed, maxes out at about 35watts and I reckon that aside from the HD enclosure and hub, I will pay back the cost in electricity savings in about 18 months.

I reckon that for most people, apart from hard core gamers or video creators/editors, such a system would be more than adequate and the savings are real. A higher specced laptop would probably do just fine for gamers and creators - or even mine as it has Thunderbolt 4 connectivity which enables the use of an external graphics card.

For most of us, the days of a desktop PC are probably coming to an end. I am also sure that the cost of electricity will play a part in accelerating that demise.

Have any of you guys moved from desktop PC to laptop? How did you find the move?
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Online Markje

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Re: Saving Money With A Laptop
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2022, 09:32:51 AM »
I moved to a laptop years ago, since my work requires me to goto different offices.
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Online andrewfi

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Re: Saving Money With A Laptop
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2022, 09:49:17 AM »
I moved to a laptop years ago, since my work requires me to goto different offices.

Yeah, me not so much. For a long time I used a mini PC and a portable monitor when I was away from home which worked great but was not a single solution.

I bought a cheap laptop a year or so ago which is fine, but not enough to replace my desktop. The new laptop is a Huawei Matebook X Pro, a tiny thing that I had originally expected to use with the lid down and a full sized keyboard in the office - I am currently using it opened up, I like the keyboard and the 3rd display it gives me is great with the two larger screens.

I am thinking I will travel and work away with the Matebook and use the old laptop as my Plex server when I am away from home (it can handle that just fine).
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Online BC

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Re: Saving Money With A Laptop
« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2022, 10:57:09 AM »
A few months ago I bought and installed one of these larger home energy monitoring devices, along with some plugs that monitor consumption for individual items:

https://shop.emporiaenergy.com/collections/in-panel-energy-monitors/products/gen-2-emporia-vue-with-16-sensors-bundle

https://shop.meross.com/products/meross-smart-wi-fi-plug-with-energy-monitor-support-apple-homekit-siri-amazon-alexa-echo-google-assistant-nest-hub-and-smartthings-app-control-timer-no-hub-needed-mss310hk-2-pack-eu-version

I was able to identify an outside fridge for drinks that was consuming a large amount of energy along with a leaky outside toilet that was causing the well pump to activate often.  Some other unusual consuming devices as well.

My son's gaming computer eats about 50 KWh per month, my office computers 70 KWh, and networking about 80 KWh including Starlink.  I'm cutting that down as well with the plug-type monitors I can set to turn on and off at scheduled times.

Overall consumption has more than halved without giving up any comfort.



I use the plug-type monitors on most appliances and computers.  Turning off computers, or putting them to sleep when not in use helps quite a bit.  They do keep the rooms a couple of degrees warmer though which is nice in winter :)

If you need an energy miser server that is always running, try the Mac Mini M1 or M2.  The M desktop Mac's are great as well.

Online andrewfi

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Re: Saving Money With A Laptop
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2022, 06:23:38 AM »
Yes, BC, the impetus to sidegrade to a laptop came from using such monitoring devices. They also helped me to reduce my heating needs.

Had I been gifted with prescience, I might have built a less power-hungry system a few years ago. I knew it was an energy guzzler, but that was not an issue on my radar at the time. This time around, I did consider buying a power-sipping mini PC, but went for a laptop for convenience given that my way of life is changing away from being home/deskbound toward a life that has homes or extended stays in more than one country.

My next target is my HiFi system. For some reason, the speakers do not go into standby. I think it has something to do with how the wiring is configured. It uses B&O Powerlink or Masterlink (can't remember which is used). As they are active speakers with several hundred watts per channel, even when not being used to play music or TV, they use quite a lot of power, about 60 Watts as compared to a couple of Watts in true standby, IIRC. So, it isn't huge and was not a priority, but worth sorting out.

Oh, yes, my PC used to keep the study relatively warm, and I noticed the difference. But, because of the way I used the system, I did not like letting it go into standby. Now, with the lappy, that's not an issue. It goes very quiet but is not on full standby. The disks in their new home, the external enclosure, spin down after a few minutes, as do the monitors. The new setup works fine, except with Plex and Roon, where I notice a delay as the relevant disk spins up to serve content. I will move my music to an SSD to get relatively instant access from sleep for using Roon; that's just not feasible for my video content.
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Online rosco

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Re: Saving Money With A Laptop
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2022, 11:43:42 AM »
I use a Mac in my home office and there's something familiar about the size of the monitor, the key board and mouse set up. I probably do my best work from there, particularly when I'm using various business to business platforms, email, spread sheets and content builders.

However, I spend a bit of time on the road and work from a MacBook Pro which syncs with the desktop on my Mac. It's essential for work on the move but I just don't find it quite as user friendly as a desk top.

Whilst I'm in this privileged position I'm happy to crack on as is but I wouldn't like to be confined to a laptop only. Humans aren't wired to like change I suppose......

Online andrewfi

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Re: Saving Money With A Laptop
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2022, 12:43:40 PM »
Rosco, I couldn't work, full time, with just a laptop, at least not with the limited display of the built-in monitor.

My idea for the new machine was that it should replace the desktop. So, I'd plug it into peripherals, including my two monitors and close the lid.

When I travel I usually take a 16" portable monitor in my bag. One screen is not enough!

That was why I purchased what I did. Lappy  is about as powerful as the desktop, albeit the graphics are not - but I never push the graphics anyway.

The system I have now is just as capable as the desktop was, and when I trot off to the UK or Spain, I will just close the lid and pop it in my bag.

I might take a spare monitor out to Spain in a few weeks, but between the portable monitor and what I already have there, I'm pretty much sorted.

If you already use MacOs then I guess that usability is more about the relative horsepower of the machines, but I am sure that an upgraded laptop will make that go away and only one machine would be needed. Just as I did.

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