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Scientists of ReUse project located at the Technical University of Berlin recently compared the energy consumption of different computer types along the life cycle. The production of computers actually needs 535 kWh which is 10 % less than 4 years ago. Most of the energy will be consumed while the computer is used for example at work for 8 hours/day. The energy consumption of new computers with 2,5-3 GHz processors is even in the stand-bye-mode still 100 Watt, whereas a 1,4 GHz PC needs 80 Watt and a 4 year old PC only needed 60 Watt. Therefore from the ecological point of view it is better to buy an old computer that didn't need the energy for a new production and which consumes less electricity while it is being used.
LCD displays need less energy than other monitors. For this reason laptops are the most ecological types of the compared computers. They need the smallest amount of energy when they are used. And 3 year old laptops are better than new ones since their processors need less energy than new ones. There is also an article in the German computer magazine C't 21/ 2003.
Some more stuff about Linux as a means to save our environment is included in the Linux-Ecology-HOWTO.