If you want to cut back on your PCs power, monitor it during intense workloads, or are just curious about its power use, you need to learn how to measure your PC’s power draw. Fortunately, there are a number of different ways you can do this with greater accuracy. Solutions run the gamut from easy to more difficult and include both software and hardware options.
Here’s how to quickly and easily measure your computer’s power consumption in a few steps.
If you want to just get a rough idea of how much power your system uses, then a quick calculator can save you a lot of hassle with taking measurements.
Step 1: Head to the OuterVision website and open its Power Supply Calculator page.
Step 2: Select the Expert or Basic tab depending on your level of expertise and how much you know about your computer.
Step 3: Input as much information as you can, including components, coolers, whether you’ve overclocked your system, and any other relevant information you can think of.
Step 4: When you’re ready, hit Calculate to get a rough idea of how much power your PC uses on a daily basis.
HWInfo is an excellent tool for tracking all sorts of aspects of your PC, including its power usage. But you’ll have to do a little math.
Step 1: Head to the HWInfo official site and download the app. Install it like you would any other, following the on-screen instructions.
Step 2: Run the app, and when prompted, select Sensors only >OK.
Step 3: HWInfo has a lot of detail, so it can be a bit overwhelming to start with. The information you need is here — you just have to find it.
Scroll down until you find the CPU section, then look for CPU Package Power. That’s the total power your CPU is pulling at that time. Next, look for your graphics card, and find either Total Graphics Power, or Total Board Power.
Add these figures together to get a good idea of how much power your system uses. If your motherboard and memory support it, you may have power sensors for those too. Add that together for greater accuracy.
Note: Also consider putting your PC in a load state and then retaking the readings so you know how much power you use while gaming or other tasks.
If you want to get the best readings for the overall power usage of your computer, you will need to measure the connection from a wall outlet with an external power meter, such as a P3 Kill A Watt Electricity Monitor. This power meter will let you take an accurate measurement of your PC’s power consumption, and is available from Amazon, Home Depot, hardware stores, and other retailers for around $20 to $40.
Simply plug it in, plug your PC’s power cable into it, then turn your PC on. The power use will be displayed on the Kill A Watt meter.
Now that you know how to check your system’s power usage, you might want to think carefully about future upgrades. The best graphics cards might make your games pretty, but they do use a lot of power.