Desktop computers have long been known as power-hungry devices, but they do serve a lot of purposes. A lot of people depend on them for work and play; some even rely on them for storing personal files. Some run them for hours at a time, and it is not uncommon to see others leaving them on for 24 hours and having them rest once a week.

You do not have to be a professional residential electrician to know that it is a habit that could add a lot to your electric bill. But modern computer parts have also made strides in efficiency, especially if you have a build that is solely made for clerical work or schoolwork. This could be a whole computer that consumes less than 100 watts. To put it into perspective, high-end gaming machines consume around 300 to 400 watts when running with a full load.

If you are someone who is mindful of their power consumption, you may want to check out these alternatives. There are low-powered computing devices out there that could provide you with much of the functions you get in a full-sized PC, with a fraction of the electricity needed:


Notebook computers have pretty much the same architecture as their desktop big brothers. The only difference is that they are designed to run on low power. This is achieved by cutting down on the performance of some parts. Processors are usually clocked lower, and the graphics processing used is of the integrated kind.

Keep in mind that notebooks have all these parts enclosed in a tight space with very little options when it comes to cooling. Cutting down on the performance allows everything to run cooler and more stable. It is also a huge factor in their battery life. These portable computers draw about 40 to 50 watts from the wall, which is not bad considering that it is the full system, monitor included.

Smartphones and Tablets

phone and tabletThese can be lumped together because they mostly share the same operating systems, to which this space is dominated by Android and iOS. They also share similar parts, most especially the processor. The only big difference is, as their form factors suggest, their screen sizes.

These gadgets can let you browse the Internet and run different applications in addition to making phone calls and sending SMS. Battery technology has improved over the years, allowing you to maintain a full charge for the whole day without reaching for the outlet. They are housed in even smaller and tighter enclosures, but they only consume around 5 watts. Before you forget, smartphones can let you call and text, too.

Single-board Computers

If a desktop computer is a shining example of modularity, single-board computers are the opposite of that. These are computers that have all the necessary components, namely the processor, RAM, and secondary storage placed on a board that is the size of a credit card. One of the most popular among enthusiasts is the Raspberry Pi. This device is now on its fourth iteration, which is the most powerful yet. What it lacks in customizability it makes up for in size and power consumption. It is a viable alternative to notebooks and even some entry-level PCs. It consumes only less than 5 watts of power.

Who says that you need brawn when it comes to computers? These little wonders will let you browse the Internet, enjoy multimedia stuff, and even get some work done without breaking the bank or consuming a lot of energy. This just goes to show that you can accomplish things without brute-forcing your way into them.

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