Tangible Savings of Windows 7 vs. Windows XP

There are certainly a lot of different information about how a company can implement specific technologies to help reduce costs in the areas of TCO etc… however what about just basic off the operation of a business bill cost? Lets take electricity consumption for example. Windows Vista introduced new power savings features in to the OS which enabled the Vista OS to gracefully shut down hardware as it wasnt being used. The Info-Tech group has a free report you can download on this topic, and they showed for a couple of different desktops what the power savings features were when comparing Windows XP and Windows Vista. They found that in one instance over the period of a year, per PC you could save as much as $33.54 on a Vista PC rather than a Windows XP PC. Report can be found here http://www.infotech.com/partners/GreenerComputing/GreenerComputing0408.aspx?WT.mc_id=GreenerComputing

So I decided to do something similar, while I don’t have the luxury of a research team at my disposal, I have done some rough calculations & tests on an old Windows XP machine I have, which I bought when I moved to Singapore over five years ago. Here are the specs…


Shuttle XPC

1 Gb RAM

Pentium 4 3.2Ghz Chipset

256 Mb Video Card


First off I went and installed Windows 7 RC on the machine, to my delight, everything worked out of the box straight away, with a Windows Experience rating of 4.2, not bad for an original Windows XP machine.

So we started running the machine through a power monitor for an hour to see how the power savings kick in. On average we saw the power consumption with monitor added at about 100 Watts. When he computer was not in use for a period of time the system started to shut down the various elements of the hardware, and the consumption went down to approx 60 watts.

I then went back and did a clean install of Windows XP SP3 on the same machine, and ran the same visual test. This time even after an hour, Windows XP does not power down resources gracefully to help conserve power. So there were no power savings whether you were using the computer or not.


State Windows XP Windows 7
Standard Use 100 Watts 100 Watts
Power Savings Mode No power Savings mode 60 Watts


This is pretty significant in that if you have employees who leave their machine on all the time, their are substantial electricity savings your organization can have. However there is always the argument that people turn their machines off overnight when they go home, and that is fair enough. My one retort to that statement is, what happens during the lunch hour… what happens during meetings away from your computer.

The balanced power plan, which is the default for Windows 7, sets the power to shut down devices gracefully as follows;

Time Power Saving Feature
5 minutes Dim the Display (Laptop Only)
10 minutes Turn off Display
30 minutes Put computer to sleep



While power consumption wont vary while you are using the computer be on Windows XP or Windows 7, its the times when you are not using the computer that the substantial power savings will kick in for you. Maybe not overnight… but for the lunch hour or the 15 min coffee break.

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