Energy efficiency and gaming may not go hand in hand. However, building a PC that can run modern games in 1080 p at medium to high settings, won’t increase your electricity bill, and won’t cost you an arm and leg is completely possible. Building such a rig all comes down to choosing the right parts.


CPU - Intel i3 4th Generation

Most people would argue that you would need at least a Core i5 processor for gaming. This is false. Advances in technology have resulted in processors that can handle most if not all types of software thrown at them. Furthermore, games nowadays are more GPU bound than CPU bound. Thus, a Core i3 processor will satisfy the needs of most gamers.

A fourth generation Intel i3 processor is chosen for this build because this generation includes the most energy efficient processors to date. AMD processors, which have comparable performance to Intel processors and are usually cheaper, are not considered because they have high energy consumption. Although fourth generation Intel processors have higher TDPs (thermal design power) than previous generations, the former has lower energy consumption and slightly better performance than the latter.


Intel Core i3-4130 3.4 3 FCLGA 1150 Processor BX80646I34130
Amazon Price: $149.99 $100.95 Buy Now
(price as of May 29, 2016)

GPU - Nvidia GTX 750 Ti

The graphics card is the most important component of a gaming PC. A good GPU will usually make up for the performance of a relatively weak CPU. The Nvidia GTX 750 Ti is chosen for this build.

The GTX 750 Ti is one of the first cards introduced by Nvidia with the Maxwell architecture. This card has twice the performance of previous generation GPUs but consumes half the power (peak consumption of ~60 W under load). This card has 650 CUDA cores, a 1020 MHz base clock speed, a 5400 memory clock speed, and comes in 1 GB and 2 GB GDDR5 video RAM.


PSU - Seasonic G Series 550

Don’t go cheap on the power supply. An 80+ rated PSU is the norm for just about any build. A gold-rated PSU will provide the perfect balance between cost and energy efficiency. A bronze-rated power supply will suffice in most instances but we want to maximize the energy efficiency of our build. The following shows the efficiency of bronze, silver, gold, and platinum power supplies.


80 Plus test type 115 V internal non-redundant
Percentage of rated load 10% 20% 50% 100%
80 Plus   80% 80% 80%
80 Plus Bronze   82% 85% 82%
80 Plus Silver   85% 88% 85%
80 Plus Gold   87% 90% 87%
80 Plus Platinum   90% 92% 89%
80 Plus Titanium 90% 92% 94% 90%
80 Plus test type 230 V internal redundant
Percentage of rated load 10% 20% 50% 100%
80 Plus        
80 Plus Bronze   81% 85% 81%
80 Plus Silver   85% 89% 85%
80 Plus Gold   88% 92% 88%
80 Plus Platinum   90% 94% 91%
80 Plus Titanium 90% 94% 96% 91%



The table shows that the peak efficiency of PSUs comes around at 50% load. You would want a PSU that can handle the peak load of your rig at around 50%. The minimum wattage of this build will be approximately 250 W (including motherboard, RAM, HDD, etc.). Thus, a PSU that is around 500 W will be optimal.

 A Seasonic PSU is chosen for this build because of the reputation of this brand for providing quality products. You can opt to choose a different brand of gold-rated power supply if you prefer. Just make sure that you choose a vendor with a good reputation.





For your other PC components, get a motherboard with optimal expansion slots, 8 GB RAM, and 1 TB HDD (or an SSD if your budget permits).

Depending on where you live, the energy savings you gain from choosing these components may be negligible or significant. But you probably won’t be reading this article if electricity costs are not an issue in your area.