High-performance hardware is usually associated with high costs. However, these are not limited to the expenses of the players.
The Spanish YouTuber Alex alias is concerned with the costs of our hobby in another form LowSpecGamer in a recent video. He is primarily concerned with the environment.
With the question in mind of how much his personal playing time affects the environment, he has done some research and presents the results in the post linked below. We summarize the most important findings for you.
Link to YouTube content
A quick note in advance: We want to dedicate ourselves to this topic in our own investigations in the near future, including the special case of cloud gaming. If you have any suggestions or special requests, please write it in the comments.
Are modern graphics cards power guzzlers?
The energy consumption of flagship graphics cards like the Geforce RTX 3090 is undeniably high. For lowspec gamers, the steadily increasing power consumption in the high-end area is particularly problematic, as, in his opinion, it receives too little attention in the discourse about new hardware.
In our tests on new models such as the article about the RTX 3080 linked below, this aspect is in some cases discussed in the comments. But it doesn’t get too much attention.
more on the subject
Nvidia’s RTX 3080 tested with gaming benchmarks
Positive example of consoles? Entry-level cards and game consoles, on the other hand, are impressive examples of the fact that they have become significantly faster over the years despite the relatively constant power consumption.
Looking at our own measurements, the power consumption when gaming with consoles has increased, but to a lesser extent than with a PC.
For comparison, we give you the values we measured under gaming load on the PS4, PS4 Pro and PS5 in comparison with Nvidia’s RTX 3080, RTX 2080 Ti and GTX 1080 Ti. The information on the Nvidia cards relates to the entire test system and not just on the GPU itself.
PlayStation 4 Pro
GTX 1080 Ti
RTX 2080 Ti
In relative terms, the power consumption of the consoles has increased to a greater extent over the generations, but the period in between was longer and, in absolute terms, the entire test systems with the Nvidia cards are clearly more power-hungry (and more powerful).
According to Alex, the efficiency of new hardware architectures and entry-level cards is also a topic of conversation that would be neglected among gamers.
At the same time, he notes that energy generation is currently the second largest source of greenhouse gases. LowSpecGamer relies on the information from the book “How we prevent the climate catastrophe” by Bill Gates.
It would also make things more difficult
If you want to know how well it plays with cheaper and older hardware, you can, for example, take a look at our new test for the Ryzen 5 1600:
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AMD Ryzen 5 1600 Test 2021 – AMD classics against current top CPUs
With regard to gaming, however, this is better possible with older processors than with older graphics cards, because GPUs are usually the clearly more important factor for the frames per second.
Should we switch to more efficient hardware?
This question unites LowSpecGamer more – at least if you were to use brand-new components. In the course of his research, LowSpecGamer asked himself the same question and found that hardware is best left in use for as long as possible.
At least that would work Environmental studies by HP which he consults in his analysis. He wouldn’t have found any gaming PCs among them, but workstations that could be roughly compared with them. The latter would cause a large part of greenhouse gases through their production alone.
LowSpecGamer comes to the following conclusion:
“If half or even more than half of the greenhouse gases are caused as a result of manufacturing, it seems like the best way to keep your current components. Unless you have an extremely inefficient older component or a modern, exorbitantly wasteful, high-end component -Variant.”
He also mentions that power supplies in particular should remain in use for a long time, as they are responsible for a large proportion of emissions. In the graphic he shows, however, it can also be seen that mainboards and other PCBs would cause even more emissions.
Used hardware as an alternative
According to Alex, an alternative approach is to buy used hardware. Here, players do not even contribute to the production of new components. Since you don’t know exactly how much the hardware was used, there is a certain risk of an earlier failure.
In his opinion, frequent upgrades in the PC area are particularly worrying, as these are frequently fueled by the marketing of many companies and thus harm the environment. And that although the PC can be particularly durable and environmentally friendly thanks to its modular structure.
Many also view the mining of cryptocurrencies as particularly critical in this context, because it uses hardware solely for the purpose of calculating a virtual good. What the discussion about mining reveals about us and the manufacturers, our author Alexander Köpf tells you in his following column:
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Crypto Mining: A Debunking Discussion
How do you think about our hobby and its consequences for the environment? Feel free to write it in the comments!