Besides the regular upfront costs of getting a full gaming PC, many people forget that gaming PCs also consumes quite some energy, which you have to pay every month. So, how much electricity does the average gaming PC consume?
An average gaming PC will consume an estimated amount of 1,400 kWh per year, equivalent to the energy usage of three refrigerators, six standard PCs, or ten game consoles. The higher the system specifications of a gaming PC, the more energy will be consumed.
According to a study by Evan Mills, gaming PCs consume 75 TWh per year, about $10 Billion in energy costs globally in 2012 or approximately 20% of total PC, notebook, and console energy usage.
How much electricity does a gaming PC use per hour?
How much energy a gaming system consumes depends on multiple factors, but mostly on the system’s specifications.
An average gaming Pc consumes 250-400W per hour running a game. When playing games in VR, or generally games with better graphics and more effects, the power consumption can reach up to 600W and more.
Not only does the system consume energy every second, other electronic devices such as monitors, mice, HDDs, and keyboards also influence the overall power consumption of a PC.
For instance, my gaming PC consumes 280 to 310W per hour during a regular gaming session.
When playing less demanding games such as Rocket League, the power consumption goes down to 120W per hour. While playing more demanding games such as Hunt Showdown on max settings, the average energy consumption is 310-330W per hour.
Without any gaming activities, just browsing the web for information, watching YouTube or streams, the system runs on 70W to 85W per hour.
Here are all the components listed that I built into my gaming PC:
|CPU:||AMD Ryzen 5 3600k|
|GPU:||Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super|
|RAM:||16GB DDR4 Corsair Vengeance Pro RGB|
|Motherboard:||MSI B450 Tomahawk MAX|
|CPU Cooling:||NZXT Kraken M22|
|Case Fans:||2x be Quiet! Pure Wings 2|
|Storage:||1x Kingston M.2 SSD 500GB, 1x Samsung SSD 840 EVO 120 GB, 1x Toshiba HDD 1TB|
Please note that this system is not overclocked. With overclocking, you can unlock a CPUs full potential by letting it run on higher voltages (and thus more speed). However, increasing the voltage on your motherboard and CPU does also increases the energy consumption per hour.
Also, overclocked CPUs produce more heat, meaning that you need better cooling to make sure the processor does not run too hot after a while.
How much does it cost to run a gaming PC 24/7?
On average, I play games for about 3-5 hours per day, and additionally, 1-2 hours browsing the web, making 4-7 hours runtime per day. However, some people let their PC run for 24 hours per day, seven days a week. So, how much does it cost to let a gaming PC run the entire day?
Based on the average U.S. price of 13,26 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), running a gaming PC 24/7 with an energy consumption of 400W per hour will cost $38,19. In comparison, a system that consumes 600W per hour will cost $57,28 per month.
Here’s an overview of systems that consume different watts per hour and how much they would cost if you let them run 24/7:
|Power Consumption:||Monthly Cost||Daily Cost||Hourly Cost:|
As you can see, gaming PCs can be quite expensive; however, most systems are set in the 400W-600W area, where you can expect to pay $38,19 – $57,28 per month.
Depending on where you live, the numbers above can change quite a lot, as energy prices vary between each state and country. For instance, if you live in Louisiana, which has the lowest rates per kWh of 9.34 cents, running a 600W system would only cost $40,35 instead of $57,28 (saving of 29,56%).
In comparison, running a gaming PC in Hawaii, which has the highest rates of 28,87 cents per kWh, will cost $124,7 per month.
How can I save electricity on my gaming PC?
When I started measuring my gaming PC’s energy consumption and started calculating how much he will cost me per month, it came out to be around 22,66€, so about $26.78.
Here in Germany, the energy rates are equally to Hawaii’s, or even a bit higher, so people have overall high energy expenses. In 2020, the average rate for one kilowatt hour reached 31,47 cents.
Side note: I calculated with an average energy consumption of 300W per hour, so about 2,4kWh per day (8 hours per day), and 72 kWh per month. To measure the consumption I chose a standard energy meter, but this is not available in the US. Click here if you’re interested in an energy meter for yourself.
Now, if you don’t want to spend a lot of money every month just for your gaming PC, what can you do to reduce its energy appetite?
Change your Windows settings:
Windows provides many settings to adjust your gaming PCs performance, including a power-saving mode. This mode enables you to adjust the timing when all displays and the computer switch into sleep mode. In this mode, the system also reduces your computer’s performance where possible.
Upgrade to more energy-efficient components:
Every year, companies like Nvidia, AMD, Asus, Corsair, and co. release new components, which are usually more energy-efficient than the previous versions. Upgrading to more efficient PC parts can save you a few bucks on the energy bill, but please note that more powerful parts still consume more power.
For instance, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super runs on 215W on average, compared to the AMD Radeon RX 5700, which runs on 185W. You can even go down to 120W on average with the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti.
Upgrade from HDD to SSD storage:
Hard drive storage is an excellent option for storing lots of data, but they tend to consume up to 5x more power than an SSD. According to another study by Evan Mills, Norm Bourassa, and Leo Rainer, “An Energy-focused Profile of the Video Gaming Marketplace:”
More poorly performing mechanical hard drives draw on the order of 10W (1TB) while solid-state drives of the same capacity and interface draw as little as 2.6W.
Choose the right display for your needs:
Display choice strongly affects gaming power within the gaming system. While frame rate decline when switching from high-definition (1080p) to ultra-high definition (4k) resolution, PC system power requirements typically rise (in systems that can handle the added processing load). These power increases are sometimes very significant (up to 60 percent in the testing), while frame rates decline, resulting in a significant reduction in the fps/watt metric.
Resource: Evan Mills technical report: A Plug-Loads Game Changer: Computer Gaming Energy Efficiency without Performance Compromise