Low power consumption is the main advantage of nettop processors, at least that’s what the manufacturers claim. To check how true this statement actually is we measured the power consumption of all our today’s testing participants. We measured the power consumption of complete systems without the monitor under different types of workload. But first of all let’s take a look at systems power consumption in idle mode:
Atom based platforms proved extremely economical. Although they use Intel 945GC chipset that is not a low-power solution, Intel D945GCLF2 and Intel D945GCLF consume less power than the other platforms. However, the systems with desktop Intel Celeron processors do not look that bad at all. The difference between a platform on Intel Atom with 4W typical TDP and a platform on Intel Celeron E1200 with 65W typical TDP is only 10W in idle mode. The picture becomes more illustrative once we increase the workload.
The results on the next diagram were taken during playback of a H.264/AVC movie in 480p resolution:
Although video playback and decoding seems to be a pretty easy task, it loads slow nettop processors quite noticeably. Therefore, the power consumption readings increase significantly compared with the idle numbers. Nevertheless, Atom processors once again prove that they are indeed low-power solutions. They consume the least power during video decoding. Here I would also like to point out that Celeron 420 performed really well, too. Although this processor is based on pretty “ordinary” Core microarchitecture without any special optimizations lowering its power consumption and heat dissipation, it consumed only 6W more than a single-core Atom processor. This way Celeron 420 turned out even more efficient than VIA Nano L2100.
The nest measurement was taken when visiting a web-site with Flash-base design that loads the CPU significantly:
As you can see from the diagram above, Flash may be harder on processors than video. However, the overall picture remains the same. The most power-efficient processors here are Intel Atom, both single- and dual-core ones. VIA Nano L2100 that is positioned as their primary competitor turns out much less efficient and loses even to Celeron 420. This poses serious concerns about high consumer qualities of VIA solution that turns out slower and more power0hungry than the youngest desktop CPU from Intel.
In conclusion we would like to offer maximum power consumption measurements that were taken during Prime95 utility run, as always:
Atom 230 based platform again boasts minimal power consumption. Under maximum workload it wins almost 12W from a system with Celeron 420. Dual-core Atom 330 also proved pretty power-efficient: it consumes 7W less than a system with the youngest Celeron on Core microarchitecture. However, the results demonstrated by Nano L2100 processor are a bit upsetting. Not only can’t it compete with Intel’s new processors in terms of power efficiency, but also loses to Celeron 420. As a result, the best performance-per-watt rate among contemporary nettop offerings belongs to Atom 330.