Many of us can’t go a day without using a computer at some point, for work or for pleasure. But if we had to push our bodies to the max just to get the system to boot up, we might spend a little less time playing Minesweeper.
Ever wonder just how much human effort it would take to make your computer run? Let’s find out.
How Much Electricity Do Computers Use?
There’s no good way to define an “average” computer when it comes to energy consumption. That’s because both laptops and desktop computers are composed of several components that all have their own individual wattages, and determining the total wattage is much more complicated than simply adding them all up.
The real-time power consumption of a computer also depends on how it’s being used: whether it’s sleeping, idling or performing a demanding processing task, for example. It also depends on things like screen brightness, the number of background processes running and whether there are any peripheral devices connected. If you want to know how much electricity your specific computer uses, PC Gamer recommends using a low-cost electricity meter to accurately measure the load.
But there are some basic ballpark ranges to help guide our estimates. According to Techwalla, most desktops consume between 60 and 250 watts, depending on the specific build and what the computer is doing, plus another 25 watts or so for a 22-inch LCD monitor. Modern gaming PCs may use even more energy; an electricity monitoring experiment on the YouTube channel Dans Tech found its most power-hungry setup to consume about 340 watts during graphics-intensive gaming.
Laptops are generally more energy-efficient, often substantially so. You can easily check the maximum wattage of your laptop by reading the label on the power adapter. This wattage may be as low as 65 watts, but many higher performing laptops ship with 90 watt or 130 watt adapters. You’ll likely never reach these maximums no matter how hard your laptop is working, though. Tests on Coding Horror found the Dell Inspiron 300m to consume a mere 15 watts while turned on and idle, and a maximum of 29 watts during a stress test for its 3D rendering capabilities.
Let’s take a look at how much sweating it would take to keep those two systems going for an hour: the 340 watt gaming rig and the 29 watt laptop.
How Many Calories Will It Take?
Energy can be measured in watt-seconds, with one watt-second being equal to the amount of electricity required to sustain one watt for one second. And watt-seconds can be converted to calories, with one calorie being equal to 4.1868 watt seconds.
Let’s start by looking into how many metabolized calories it would take to keep each of these computers running for just one second.
340 watts ÷ 4.1868 watt-seconds ≈ 81 calories per second for the gaming PC
29 watts ÷ 4.1868 watt-seconds ≈ 7 calories per second for the laptop
How Much Workout Video Exercise Would It Take to Run Your Computer?
Since we’re doing all this exercise for the sake of technology, it’s fitting that we use a little technology in the process. According to the Compendium of Physical Activities, exercising to a workout video with vigorous effort generates 6 METs, or metabolic equivalents. That figure will help us discover just how many calories we’ll burn while sweatin’ to the DVDs.
We also need the weight in kilograms of the people doing the exercise, so we’ll turn to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the average weights of adult men and women in the United States: 88.76 kilograms for men and 76.43 kg for women.
With these figures, we can calculate how many calories each of these athletes will burn during an hour of TV exercising:
6 METs x 88.76 kg ≈ 533 calories per hour for the average man
6 METs x 76.43 kg ≈ 459 calories per hour for the average woman
Now we can check to see how many burned calories it would take to power each of these computers for an hour. The gaming PC requires 81 calories per second, which comes out to 291,600 calories for an hour. And the laptop only requires 7 calories per second, which means it takes 25,200 calories per hour.
So for the average man to keep the gaming PC humming along, he’d have to exercise for 22 days, 19 hours, five minutes and 31 seconds. And for the much leaner laptop, it would only take one day, 23 hours, 16 minutes and 46 seconds.
For the average woman, powering the gaming PC would take 26 days, 11 hours, 17 minutes and 39 seconds. But for the laptop, it would only take two days, six hours, 54 minutes and seven seconds.
Working out to power your computer seems like a good way to cut back on your PC gaming habit!
Check out how much exercise it takes to power your other household items!