Can software really reduce your computer’s power consumption by 30%?

I stumbled across MiserWare MicroMiser a couple of days ago. It promises to shave 10 to 30 percent off your PC’s power consumption, without you even noticing. All you have to do is download and install the program. I have to admit this sounded a little too good to be true at first, but considering how I’m really into low power computing, I decided to sign up for the beta program and give it a try.

Unfortunately, I do not have a reliable way to measure how much power my PC uses. It’s a relatively ‘green’ PC with an Intel Core 2 Duo processor and all the other usual stuff. It probably uses more than 100 watts of power, and it’s on for at least 32 hours each week. Currently, both on my desktop and my laptop, MicroMiser is reporting power savings of over 30%. Those stats are probably a little optimistic, but even if it’s half that, this is a very interesting program. Especially since I’ve noticed absolutely no reduction in my computer’s responsiveness and speed.

I’ve suggested this piece of software to my favorite Dutch hardware review website, hardware.info. One of the things I love about the way they review new hardware is that they consistently test each product’s hunger for power. They have all the neccesary equipment, and the result are can be quite surprising. I hope they decide to test MicroMiser, and I sincerely hope they find it to work. The next step then would be to get everybody to use it.

20 Comments

  1. I have installed it on my eeepc 900. says 20-30% also. no change in battery life. i live on a boat and use 12v power when plugged in. havent seen a change in that either. think all the software is is a splash screen

    Comment by Beachbum — January 21, 2010 @ 1:10 am

  2. Beachbum. I hope that’s not true, but I remain sceptical. Strange thing is that I’ve yet to see conclusive data, even though the product has been available for some time (albeit Linux only). You’d think someone would put an energy monitor to good use…

    Comment by Roy — January 21, 2010 @ 9:53 am

  3. @Beachbum,

    Do be aware that this software, according to Miserware, only manages the processor’s power usage not the whole machine.

    On something like an Eee the majority of the consumption will probably not come from the cpu.

    @Roy,

    We have used a power meter at home but we are not permitted to discuss the results which I completely understand. As it wasn’t a scientific test, and as they (Miserware) are still in Beta, they obviously need to be quite careful about any reports that are not 100% accurate and not carried out under proper conditions…

    I do notice on my “big” laptop (An Intel Core2 T5500) about 1/2hr more life and on my old Elonex Webbook (A VIA C7) I got between 1/2 and 1hr more life) approx.

    Cheers

    Comment by The Open Sourcerer — January 21, 2010 @ 10:19 am

  4. Right, in fact the Atom CPU in netbooks uses only 2.5 watts, far less than the chipset or the screen.

    But still, a software that does only one thing, and no outside data at all that shows it to work? If they’re going to be marketing this any time soon I’d recommend they lift the restrictions and/or work with reviewers to get some sort of 3rd party confirmation.

    Comment by Roy — January 21, 2010 @ 10:34 am

  5. It says i have saved enough to power furnaces and other appliances. wish it was true.

    Comment by Beachbum — January 21, 2010 @ 1:36 pm

  6. Roy,

    To measure energy consumption I’ve used this item and found it to work pretty well. If you’re into being green, you can really see where costs and consumption of power comes from. You’d be able to test this PC, but if you’re green – you’ll find a ton of other uses for it.

    http://www.p3international.com/products/special/P4400/P4400-CE.html

    Comment by Robert — January 25, 2010 @ 10:46 pm

  7. Hi Robert. I’m thinking about getting one of those, but these consumer level devices are known to be a little inaccurate. MiserWare’s beta license agreement says you can only publish benchmarks if they’ve reviewed your testing methodology and given you the go agead (in writing!). I’m pretty sure devices like this won’t do.

    And then there’s the software. You’d need to be able to fully stress the cpu, test at idle and at something inbetween (which can be tricky..

    Comment by Roy — January 26, 2010 @ 11:20 am

  8. I’m very skeptic about this one. Modern platforms – especially mobile – are well optimized for power.
    Maybe all this thing does is checking for power policy occasionally set to the max when not needed, or wrongly defined, or some power thursty devices are left on. When a correct power policy is in place, it’s very hard to squeeze even 10% more out of new platforms. OTOH… Win7 is better on power saving than everything before – but only with correct settings. Wrong settings can ruine it.

    Comment by ddebug — January 31, 2010 @ 1:21 pm

  9. The “miserware” software is nothing more than a scam.

    Most modern computers will adjust the CPU speed automatically better than any crappy software.

    Even some older systems have this capability and you can download the software from the CPU vendors (Intel/AMD)

    AMD calls their power saving technology Cool and Quiet, and Intel calls their’s Speedstep.

    I even have a 10 year old laptop that supports SpeedStep technology using a legitimate third-party software package called SpeedStepXP.

    Lastly, the P3 meters are well known for being very accurate.

    The reason you need their permission to publish benchmarks and reviews is because the software is a scam meant to falsely legitimize the Enterprise software that they want to peddle to uneducated system administrators.

    Comment by engineer — February 2, 2010 @ 9:04 am

  10. @engineer

    Your comments don’t match your name at all. You make unsubstantiated accusations and sound like a troll.

    For those who have signed up for the trial, there is a fair bit of information on the wiki that explains in layman’s terms what the software does:

    “MiserWare ISPM is a set of algorithms for saving energy in a wide variety of workloads without affecting the performance of the system. These proprietary algorithms are at the heart of the current MiserWare products. In the MiserWare power management daemons, we leverage our ISPM algorithms to use dynamic voltage and frequency scaling (DVFS) technology. DVFS provides various power and performance settings for just about any modern processor, and when coupled with our algorithms can save significant system energy with no noticeable performance loss. ”

    I’m more inclined to refer to that kind of text than unsubstantiated drivel from an anonymous troll.

    Comment by The Open Sourcerer — February 2, 2010 @ 9:56 am

  11. i wont comment on any apps i dont know and i dont use.

    i know this for sure.
    in linux, you can install laptopmode tools, cpufreqd, and few other similar tools which actually save power.
    it works by lowering your cpu frequency when it’s idle, make less access to hardware, especially harddrive.
    all these combined will help reduce power usage.

    you can even install intel’s powertop http://www.lesswatts.org/projects/powertop/
    which can tell you how much power your laptop is using.

    Comment by dennyhalim.com — February 10, 2010 @ 3:49 am

  12. Maybe all this thing does is checking for power policy occasionally set to the max when not needed, or wrongly defined, or some power thursty devices are left on. When a correct power policy is in place, it’s very hard to squeeze even 10% more out of new platforms. OTOH… Win7 is better on power saving than everything before – but only with correct settings. Wrong settings can ruine it.
    I cant understand you:(

    Comment by Foton kuşağı — February 20, 2010 @ 1:22 am

  13. Now THAT’S a cool boat! :)

    Comment by Mark — February 22, 2010 @ 1:42 pm

  14. I’ll give it a try. Since I’m running a pretty aged computer, maybe I’ll notice some performance changes. I’ll let you guys know too.

    Comment by Chris — February 26, 2010 @ 3:33 pm

  15. i will give it a try..lets see.but i dont beleive this

    Comment by deepak — March 1, 2010 @ 11:30 am

  16. My PC is plugged into a P3 meter and I cranked this program up to maximum power savings – it did NOTHING. If I use my imagination, I can create a scenario where this will benefit you if your power management is disabled/least intense power savings mode: it WILL DO SOMETHING – that is, it will enable features you just didn’t know/think/care about before. I didn’t detect results that could not be achieved with other, less draconian TOS software. Just watch your P3 meter and CPU-Z voltage fluctuations and you’ll see it for yourself – it optimizes a system that is unoptimized – it does nothing for an power management optimized system – in my opinion.

    Power consumption on my P3 meter before and after this pierogi at idle: identical

    HA HA, imagine, you are not allowed to publish result of benchmarks. HA HA. Scam-o-rama.

    Comment by i7User — March 9, 2010 @ 3:16 pm

  17. I will use the software as soon as possible. But I can not understand that why an user is not permitted to publish their findings benchmark. May be because it is a beta version. They don’t want a bad reputation with beta version.

    And friends, a beta version always has some cons. You should not say that it is a scam but notify the developer (as you are informing here) about the problems.

    Comment by Jibanananda Goswami — April 10, 2010 @ 8:12 am

  18. How can people be fooled so easily? A software that runs in the background but saves energy? Reminds me of a RAM booster software I saw in the eighties, supposed to increase RAM!

    I guess it’s human nature to be fooled by obvious scams. Look, no software can make your computer faster, more power efficient(though system settings can) or shinier. If you want low power buy an efficient screen (my 19′ LCD uses less than 20 watts) and a nettop computer.

    Comment by TheGreatAndyChow — April 30, 2010 @ 6:01 pm

    • TheGreatAndyChow, I think you’re a little too harsh. Those RAM booster programs, if I remember correctly, compressed data written to the computer’s memory, and, with a performance penalty of course, worked as advertised. Similarly, it is possible to save energy on poorly configured systems, there either the BIOS doesn’t properly use CPU throttling or the OS messes up. On modern PCs however, those things are usually configured right, which leaves little room for improvement. That’s why I remain sceptical.

      Comment by Roy — May 4, 2010 @ 3:50 pm

  19. Good lord, this is why guys in Nigeria still send out hundreds of e-mails a day. You really think a piece of software like this will save you up to 30%? From what? Honestly, where do you think that extra power can be trimmed from – in THE SOFTWARE of all things.

    Think about it, if software could do that “easily” to “all computers” think about the kinds of viruses we would have, shutting down random pieces of the board, lmao, hilarious. Almost all power management features are automatic, built into the motherboard and processor, as well as in the hard-drives, optical drives, and video cards. Sure, there are some minor software tweaks that can change the time it takes for your hard-drive to go to sleep, but honestly, we’re talking about a difference of maybe 3-4 watts, so that’s what – 1%?

    If you want to get more power savings, get yourself some new hardware, that’s the only way to do it – small manufacturing processes = higher efficiency. Don’t fall for some bogus software – reminds me of those “security” applications that pop up telling you that your windows.sys file is corrupted – quick – click here to install me!

    Comment by Jack — February 1, 2011 @ 9:28 pm