I’m sure many of you have asked yourself that question about your PC from time to time; should I leave it running or turn it off. To give you enough information to make the right choice, some points need to be made. The great news is that by properly configuring your system, you can some money!
Thermal Expansion and Contraction
First, understand that turning your PC system on and off regularly can cause damage because of electronic components expanding and contracting. When you turn on your system, the electronic components that make up your system, transition from room temperature to 185 degrees Fahrenheit (expanding) within a half an hour. After the system has been running and you power it down, the reverse process happens, cooling (contracting) the components back to room temperature. Since each electronic component has a different thermal expansion coefficient, each expands and contracts in a unique amount of time.
Long-term, this regular expansion/contraction causes damage to the components, and is the most popular cause of component failure in a PC system. Chips split, wiring and contacts break, and the motherboard and expansion cards can develop cracks. There are a number of other things that occur as well, none of which are positive. I’m not suggesting that you leave your PC on continually, but using your PC’s power options effectively is the key to combating the expansion and contraction problem, as well as reducing your power bill significantly.
ACPI Suspend Mode S3
Electricity rates for each kilowatt-hour are on average at about 10 cents in the U.S. Your average PC system costs over $200/month if it’s never powered off. The interesting thing is you can reduce that amount down to just over $50/month if you use ACPI S3 or even better with ACPI S4 Power Option. You not only enjoy saving $150/month, you run a far less chance of your system causing a fire, while left unattended.
To configure your power mode properly, you must first go into your BIOS setup. The setting is usually called the ACPI suspend mode; enable it for the S3 state. By setting up your PC for this mode, each time the PC goes into the S3 state, the system information is stored in RAM, and all hardware in your PC system is turned off, except for the RAM. To go back into the regular full mode, you simply depress the Power On button. However, your system will not do a normal boot, it will load much more quickly, with all prior system information and files reopened.
System Hibernate S4
As I mentioned earlier, you must go into the BIOS to enable S3. To further fine tune things, go into the Power Option Control Panel, select the Advanced tab, select Stand By as the choice for the question, “ When I press the power button on my computer.” Select the hibernate tab and enable hibernation if you want to go into the ACPI S4 mode, which saves the system information to the hard drive, and the entire system is powered off. When you press the Power On button, it will not perform a cold boot, and it will be fairly quick to recover all system information and reopen files, but not as quickly as S3. Go to the Power Schemes tab and select the amount of time you want to elapse before the system goes into System Standby S3 and System Hibernates S4.
As you can see, it’s not difficult to enable the S3 and S4 power modes, and by doing so, you will be saving money each month with a lower power bill, as well as prolonging the life of your PC. The cool thing about this is you have total control over your power consumption. In this case, you have the power!