This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
A few years ago, Evan Mills’ 14-year-old son Nathaniel wanted to get into gaming. To juice up the experience, he wanted to build his own computer like more and more gamers do. Mills is an energy expert, a senior scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, so he struck a deal with his son: “I’ll bankroll it if you help me measure the hell out of it and let’s see how much energy this is really going to use.” His son agreed, and they “went at it,” Mills recalls. “We had a power meter and all the tools. And when the results came in — it was jaw dropping.”
“I’m looking at the power ratings, and I’m like, ‘What? This graphics card uses 300 watts? That one uses 500 watts? Is this a typo? This is way out on the fringes.’” In time, the father-and-son team hardly paid attention to the games themselves, instead focusing on their watt meter and switching out hardware and games to see which configurations would make the electricity readings spike or fall.
In 2015, they releas... Read more