How to Measure Your PC's Power Consumption - Make Tech Easier (2023)

Computers are integral to today’s society. They are incredibly powerful machines that are capable of completing amazing tasks. This begs the question: how much electricity is your PC consuming? This means learning to measure PC power consumption using a PC power calculator.

Why Do You Need to Measure Your PC’s Power Consumption?

If you use a computer for basic tasks like word processing and social media, your PC probably isn’t chewing through much power. However, more demanding tasks like video-editing or gaming can cause a spike in power usage. If you’re responsible for paying the utility bills in your household, it’s a good idea to know how much power your PC draws. Knowing how much juice your PC is consuming can help you with budgeting.

Note: if you are worried about your bill, here are some ways to reduce your PC’s power consumption.

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Are you planning on building a new PC? If so, knowing how much power each component consumes is critical. Anyone who has ever built a PC knows the importance of an adequate power supply. More powerful components can require a significant amount of power. After spending your hard-earned dollars on high-end parts, you’re going to want to make sure your power supply can deliver the necessary juice.

What Are PC Operating Costs?

Overall, the average operating costs for running a PC aren’t going to break the bank unless you’re doing something extreme, such as cryptocurrency mining.

Overclockers broke down various use cases and how much it may cost on average to operate a PC. The site used a PC wattage calculator to determine average watts used for different tasks.

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For 24/7 high-power use, it could cost over $50/month to run your PC. For 24/7 gaming, costs vary (based on the type of processor) between $18 to just over $37 per month.

Naturally, most people aren’t running their PCs full out all day, every day. Overclockers performed the same tests for eight and four hours a day, assuming the same usage each day of the month. The more extreme cost for four and eight hours a day, respectively, were $8.65 and $17.30/month. Gaming dropped the costs to $6.26 and $12.51/month.

Lower-end PCs will use less power overall, but they won’t perform as high on certain tasks, such as gaming. For someone just browsing or scrolling through social media, power usage is going to be even lower than these averages.

How PC Upgrades Change Things

Every power supply is only able to handle a set amount of usage at a time. This is also why’s it’s important to use a power consumption calculator for PC to measure usage to determine if your power supply is able to handle any upgrades. If you’re making major upgrades, it may be necessary to also upgrade your power supply to be able to handle the new load.

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For example, higher-end graphics cards can pull over 250 watts. That doesn’t account for any other PC components. This means measuring how much power your PC currently uses and how much more additional components it can support is important.

How to Measure Power Draw Using Online Tools

One of the easiest ways to accurately tally the power consumption of your PC is to use an online power draw calculator. Outervision has a popular, accurate calculator that is easy to use by both novices and power users. To use the calculator, you need to know details about the components of your PC.

The basic version of the calculator simply asks for you to input general information about your components. You can select from a drop-down list of CPUs, graphics cards and RAM to populate the necessary fields. Finally, plug in some information about your usage and click on the calculate button. Outervision’s basic calculator will give you a pretty good estimate of your PC’s power draw. That being said, if you want a more detailed and accurate estimation, you’re going to want to use the “Expert” calculator.

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Outervision’s Expert calculator lets you input more information about your PC. This includes everything from the basic calculator as well as things like the number of storage drives, fans, PCI cards and even liquid cooling devices. Furthermore, to get the most accurate reading, you’ll need to know things like the clock speed of your CPU and graphics card. In addition, you can even factor in CPU and GPU overclocking. As with the basic calculator, once you’ve entered the relevant information, you can enter how much time you use your computer in a day and whether it will be used for any gaming or other heavy lifting.

How to Measure Power Draw with Software

Another way you can monitor your PC’s power draw is with a lightweight software application. There are a few different ones available; however, one of the most popular is Open Hardware Monitor. Open Hardware Monitor is a free, open-source application that gives users real-time power draw readouts.

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In addition to power consumption information, Open Hardware Monitor can tell you much more about your PC. This includes things like the temperatures of CPUs, GPUs and hard drives, as well as fan speeds and load and clock speeds. This information can be presented in a graphical window, a desktop widget or hidden as an icon in the system tray. Furthermore, Open Hardware Monitor is compatible with all versions of Windows, stretching back to XP and any x86 Linux distro.

How to Measure Power Draw with Meters

One of the easiest ways to measure the overall power consumption of your PC build is to invest in an external power meter. Using these power meters couldn’t be simpler. All you need to do is plug the device into a wall outlet, then plug your PC’s power cable into the plug built into the power meter. The next time you fire up your PC, the power meter will give you an accurate reading of how much electricity your PC is consuming.

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This is particularly handy for understanding how much power is being consumed during various tasks. However, the downside to this is that an external power meter won’t help you determine which Power Supply unit is suitable for your build.

That being said, getting on-the-fly readings of your PC’s power draw can be useful. There are a number of these power meters on the market, so finding one should be easy. R

One of the highest-reviewed units is the Kill-A-Watt electricity usage meter, which boasts a 4.5 star rating from over 6,000 reviews. The best part is that they’re pretty cheap, with most hovering in the $20 to $30 mark. There are other, more expensive units that offer additional features, like the ability to record power consumption, but these can be significantly more expensive. For the average user, the cheaper units do the job.

Other than finding out the power your PC is consuming, you may also want to check the power output of the USB port so that you know is it sufficient to power your external devices. Lastly, find out how to choose a power supply for your PC.

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Crystal Crowder

Crystal Crowder has spent over 15 years working in the tech industry, first as an IT technician and then as a writer. She works to help teach others how to get the most from their devices, systems, and apps. She stays on top of the latest trends and is always finding solutions to common tech problems.

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