Most Viewed
Latest Arrivals

Menu

Rated Excellent
Weekend delivery available
0% Interest on PCs
Custom PCs built fast
3 year on-site PC warranty*

How to make your current Gaming PC more Energy Efficient

If you're looking for ways to save money on energy bills, there are plenty of ways to make sure your gaming PC is consuming less power.

 

HEADER

 

The general consensus in the consumer PC market right now is that their favourite hobby could be costing a lot more, with PC gamers looking for ways to reduce their energy bills whilst still enjoying their gaming PC. Naturally, for those gamers who own older systems, energy usage is higher, mainly due to component age and less economical use of power.

We have put together this guide to show the changes you can make right now to ensure your current gaming PC is as energy efficient as possible.

In this guide:

Cost of living crisis hits gaming PC owners

The cost of living in the UK began to rise across the UK in Q1 of 2021. The annual rate of inflation reached 9.9% in August 2022, according to a Parliamentary report, which was close to a 30 year high and the fastest in 40 years, meaning - for the vast majority of households in the UK - some goods and services became unaffordable. Energy prices have been the most publicised, affecting every single household and business with an electricity supply, and resulting in the government introducing an Energy Price Guarantee to assist the most hard-hit consumers.

 

Consumer Price Index 2022

 

The energy prices are due to the wholesale cost of gas and oil, affected in part by the war in Ukraine, but other increases in food, household goods and even second hand cars have also contributed to what amounts to a real financial crisis for almost everyone in the UK. Every industry is feeling the effects on a global scale, and every aspect of the gaming and PC hardware industry has felt the almighty pinch.

The importance of the gaming industry

93% of UK citizens own at least one computer, and more than half of UK residents own a laptop, with a large proportion of those users being gamers, according to Statista and OECD stats.

In the grand scheme of things, little has been done to report on how important the gaming PC market is with consumers. With the price of food, fuel and electricity, it might even be considered crass by some to examine how the gaming market has been affected by the cost of living, or the many changes gamers can make to reduce their costs and continue enjoying their PC amidst a financial decline.

Having been in the PC industry for over 25 years, CCL has seen many financial crises, from the 2008 Great Recession to the COVID-19 pandemic which created its own global recession. The gaming PC market in particular was affected in extreme ways from 2020 to early 2022, with extraordinary GPU pricing, supply chain issues due to the global pandemic and worldwide chip shortages all driving up the price of prebuilt PCs and components.

Throughout these financial disasters, one thing has remained true. Video games and the gaming industry are extremely resilient to recessions, and its consumption almost immune from the pressures of the global economy. Many have speculated that the link between positive mental health and gaming is a major factor; people turn to entertainment and hobbies as a means of escape and relaxation, and - globally - gaming is one of the most popular ways to unwind.

With the largest video games industry in Europe, the UK has a gaming audience of over 50% of its residents, so it should not surprise economists or the public that even through the pandemic, sales of gaming related hardware increased, with the video games industry being worth £6.3 billion in 2020, compared with £6.1 billion in 2019. Despite many market observations predicting a decline, in 2021, the UK video games market was worth £6.7 billion, an increase despite the many challenges it faced.

 

UK video games market value 2018 - 2022

 

Source: IBISWorld.com

Gaming is important to UK consumers, and that is an undeniable - albeit often underreported - fact. There is no denying it, and statistics support it. Whether we are using gaming as a means of escape and relaxation, or we are purchasing a PC that doubles up as a home workstation and gaming battlestation, gamers carry on regardless.

Vendors focus on greener PC components

With the advent of more powerful graphics cards like the latest RTX 40 series, Intel 13th-Gen processors and other hardware, gaming PCs and laptops have been targeted in the press as being the biggest energy vampires, even though modern components actually consume a lot less energy than their predecessors.

We now live in a time where all manufacturers are making a concerted effort to produce more efficient hardware, whilst also reducing their carbon footprint during production. By committing to simple measures such as minimising waste during manufacture, green supply chain management, and - most importantly - introducing energy saving features in hardware, vendors such as Intel, AMD, MSI, Gigabyte, ASUS and other leaders in the PC market are looking at the environmental impact just as much as consumer concerns.

Couple this with a cost of living increase, and it is easy to see why many people have been unable to upgrade their setup to a new, more energy efficient gaming PC. For those who saved their money or waited patiently for the drop in component pricing in mid-2022, the focus may not have been on energy efficiency, but rather getting the most performance for their money.

Make your gaming PC more energy efficient

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to make your current gaming PC energy efficient, and reduce the amount of power it uses, and these range from easy changes anyone can perform to advanced methods for enthusiasts. If you came here to find out how to play games on your PC without spending a fortune on your electricity bill, then these are the tips you need.

Tip 1: (Easy) Use an energy efficient power supply unit

Efficiency is key in any power supply unit, as we explained in detail in our article - How to choose the best PSU for your gaming PC. Efficient PSUs are built using high quality parts, waste less power, and generate less heat. All of this combined results in a much happier gamer, with a PC that is quieter overall and consumes less power.

Your PSU, therefore, bears much of the responsibility for energy usage. The various energy ratings can be a little confusing so we'll start by explaining the most popular PSU tiers: -

Data based on: 80 PLUS certified standards for 230V EU Internal Non-Redundant PSUs

 

80 PLUS Type 10% Load 20% Load 50% Load 100% Load
80 Plus   82% 85% PFC ≥ 0.90 82%
80 Plus Bronze   85% 88% PFC ≥ 0.90 85%
80 Plus Silver   87% 90% PFC ≥ 0.90 87%
80 Plus Gold   90% 92% PFC ≥ 0.90 89%
80 Plus Platinum   92% 94% PFC ≥ 0.95 90%
80 Plus Titanium 90% 94% PFC ≥ 0.95 96% 91%

 

PSU Power Supply Tier List 80 Plus

 

The different tiers (Bronze, Silver, Gold etc.) correspond to how efficient a PSU is at various loads, and how much energy is wasted as heat. As an example from the table above, an 80 Plus Silver PSU with 20% load is 87% efficient. This means your PSU will feed 87% of its power to the PC components, and 13% will be expended as heat.

There are also a number of PSU features that are capable of reducing your costs even further. One of the best upgrades for your PC is an energy efficient power supply unit, which may have one or more of the below features: -

Zero RPM mode

Fanless operation at low loads means the fan only engages when required, saving power and resulting in low noise operation.

Safety features

Over-voltage and under-voltage protection, short circuit protection, over power and over temperature protection increases safety, ensuring power levels and temperatures remain normal.

Fluid-dynamic bearing fans

With a much longer lifespan than sleeve bearings, fluid-dynamic bearing fans offer sustainability and reliability. This ensures your PSU operates at optimal fan speeds with accurate temperature readings and RPMs.

Heatsink

Usually a high-end feature, PSU heatsinks can result in much lower temperatures inside the PSU housing, extending the lifespan of internal components and promoting silent operation (for longer durations). With this kind of technology, LAMBDA certification is possible.

Modular cables

Modular power supplies are considered better for continuous performance since they do not retain as much heat within redundant cabling. This lowers operating temperatures, often improves system stability and dependability, and, overall, reduces total power usage.

Quick Tip: How to work out which PSU you need

You can work out how much power (wattage) your PSU needs to have if you're building a PC, and how much power your PC will actually use in a real world scenarios (according to your components' usage) using this PSU calculator.

Tip 2: (Easy) Utilise Windows 10/11 power plans

Windows 10 and Windows 11 have excellent power management options, which will ensure you are only ever using the power you need. Better still, with Windows 11, you can create a customised power plan that suites your schedule and usage.

 

 

Power Plan Quick Tip: Avoiding putting your PC into stand-by and hibernate modes will also ensure you are not wasting any electricity.

Tip 3: (Easy) Increase case airflow

Airflow is one of the key factors in energy efficiency in a PC case. With your components receiving adequate natural air cooling from case fans, built-in fans and cooling systems don't have to work as hard, and will drain less power. It's also worth mentioning that good airflow should be alongside reduced dust and debris for optimal operation. Choose a case that has removable mesh filters for a cleaner airflow.

There are a few manufacturers who focus heavily on airflow, and these include: -

PC hardware experts, GamersNexus, regularly hail Lian Li and Fractal Design as the best cases for out of the box thermal performance and overall airflow, and have no hesitation in recommending CCL Exclusive Montech cases either.

 

Montech X3 mesh Case - Airflow for energy efficiency

 

Pictured: Montech X3 Mesh

If you want to increase airflow in your current case without upgrading the whole thing, you can add/replace front intake fans and upgrade your rear exhaust fan inexpensively, making sure you are getting as much cool air passing over your components as possible, and dissipating heat from inside the chassis.

Tip 4: (Easy) Use SSDs wherever possible

SSDs are much faster than HDDs, which immediately gives them an advantage in any comparison; your applications and games are accessed much faster, so therefore your system uses less power doing the work.

Overall, SSDs consume a lot less power than hard drives, which make them ideal for any upgrade or efficiency-focused PC build. SATA SSDs draw less than M.2 SSDs in most tests, though this can be mitigated by using an SSD heatsink to combat the heat (and subsequent extra power to compensate).

Tip 5: (Easy) Use liquid cooling for higher efficiency

It is widely known by PC enthusiasts that liquid cooling your system ensures you have a very efficient method of cooling a processor, being 2-10 times more efficient than air cooling.

An AIO (All in One) liquid cooler efficiently distributes heat over a radiator, which offers more convection surface area than you have with conduction options (air cooling). This results in lower fan speeds and better use of power from the PSU.

Tip 6: (Advanced) Underclock / undervolt your processor

Underclocking is a method of running your CPU (processor) at a lower clock speed frequency than the base clock speed it ships with. Though a little more complex than just pressing a few buttons, and akin to overclocking in technicality, you can pick up the basics of underclocking in an afternoon and start reaping the benefits right away.

How to underclock your PC

One of the more trusted PC specialists out there, JayzTwoCents, covered underclocking CPUs and ensures you have a very easy step by step guide if it's your first time.

 

 

Undervolting is a very popular upgrade you can make to your system that costs nothing, has lots of positive improvements for your system, and has very few drawbacks. Undervolting your CPU involves lowering the amount of power your processor receives from the PSU, and can be done with free software. Undervolting is usually safe, but if you do things wrong, you will certainly be responsible for invalidating your CPU warranty.

Benefits of unvervolting:

  1. Your PC consumes less power
  2. Your components generate less heat
  3. Lower noise profile
  4. Lengthens lifespan of hardware
  5. Prevents thermal throttling (lowering performance in favour of a cooler CPU)

Undervolting is usually done with Intel processors, as the latest AMD CPUs (such as the Ryzen 5000 series) have a different architecture that requires lower power requirements than Intel, so there's little else you can do to improve on the changes made by the big brains at AMD. Of course, there may be some improvements that you can make if you have an older CPU from AMD that is running hotter than you'd like, or consuming excess power.

How to undervolt your CPU

Again, we have the trusted, safe hands of Jay Langevin of JayzTwoCents YouTube channel to guide us:

 

 

Last Word

Saving money and using less energy is absolutely necessary for the majority of people, but that doesn't mean there needs to be any sacrifice for those of us who love gaming. By making a few changes to your setup, you can ensure you get the best of both worlds, and enjoying a gaming session won't mean you're dreading an electricity bill coming through the door.