Eco-friendly PCs use less energy than lightbulbs

TechRadar had the pleasure of visiting this year's Green IT Expo in London today, where a number of new, green computers were being launched amidst a whole host of major IT brands, on hand to show off to (largely business) users their latest ways of developing eco-friendly and sustainable technologies and practices.

Amongst all the worthy talk of 'corporate social responsibility' (surely an oxymoron?) TechRadar noticed two new energy-saving PCs from Sheffield-based VeryPC and Essex-based outfit, Akhter Computers.

The Fulwood 'Full Monty'

First up, VeryPC's Fulwood is by far and away one of the cutest PCs on the market and is sure to appeal to users looking for a reasonably-specced PC that doubles up as media-centre AND uses around half the energy of Atom-based 'green PCs' while being around four times faster.

The Fulwood is basically around the size of a Mac mini and packs in an Intel P9500 2.53GHz dual core CPU, 2GB RAM, 250GB hard drive, Intel x4500HD graphics, DVDRW and a remote control – which is almost as big as the PC itself!

It runs Windows Vista Premium, has a DVI-VGA splitter for dual screen use and a HDMI output, so you can hook it up to your telly.

The Sheffield firm makes much of the 'Made In Sheffield' mark it proudly stamps on all of its products. (Fulwood is, incidentally, a posh Sheffield suburb, for those not in the know!)

When idle the machine uses only 17W and when running at full capacity, the Fulwood still only uses 27W – which make it easily the greenest PC currently available.

The machine is pretty quick and will even run (fairly) recent PC games, according to the manufacturers. Although we're not sure how it would handle Crysis or Fallout 3. But then again, if you want a games machine, energy-efficiency is not going to be at the top of your list of required USPs...

Mac mini looks

Perhaps its greatest selling point is that it looks the bee's knees and would not be out of place underneath your new HD TV sat next to your PlayStation.

The price is a slight sticking point, ranging from £868 - £1100 exclusive of monitor, keyboard and mouse, although if you are in the market for a good-looking, low-energy 'green PC' to use as your entertainment hub, this really is by far the best option currently available to you.

Carbon-footprint awareness

The other British PC manufacturer touting its wares at the 2008 Green IT Expo was Akhter Computers showing off its LoCO2PC - the world's first Energy Star 4.0 approved all-in-one PC running an Intel Core2 Duo processor at 3.0GHz – which, at a starting price of £699, is sure to appeal to the more cost-conscious PC consumer with a conscience and awareness of green issues.

The LoCO2PC throws together a 19-inch LCD panel, Intel Core 2 Duo processor, stereo speakers, DVD writer and a 250GB hard-disk drive in a single, impressively thin (85mm) all-in-one package.

"It consumes around a third of the power of an older style PC," an Akhter rep told TechRadar, "which means you save around £100 to £200 over the course of the year per PC."

Quiet and efficient

The CPU is cooled by a proprietary copper pipe heat exchange system, which means that the PC is incredibly quiet, as well as being energy-efficient (using around 55 watts according to industry-standard Energy Star rating procedures).

So whether you opt for a slightly more expensive, ultra-fashionable VeryPC Fulwood or the more-affordable Akhter all-in-one, you can buy a decent new PC for under a grand that will also help you slash your power bills and keep your carbon footprint in check.

Adam Hartley