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Thread: How much wattage is enough?

  1. #1
    Newbie BillyGalbreath's Avatar
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    How much wattage is enough?

    Ok, I wont go into too much details (yet) about my planning, but what it all comes down to is... I need a 500-600 watt power supply for the computer (pretty powerful little machine, yeah).

    Now, obviously DC-DC is not an option for me, so I am forced to use an inverter. My question is, how much wattage should I get in an inverter to power [let's say] a 600w PSU? I'm looking at a 1000watt inverter, but is this overkill?

    I'm a little slow when it comes to this stuff. I'm a software programmer, not a hardware technician...

    *Note, only thing being powered by the inverter will be the PSU.*
    *The monitor and everything else will be powered elsewhere.*
    *Price is not an issue when it comes to this project.*

    Thanks!
    -Billy

  2. #2
    Variable Bitrate dMand's Avatar
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    please list the hardware you plan on using so that we can help you better, 600 watts of power can also be had using various DC to DC configurations.

  3. #3
    Neither darque nor pervert DarquePervert's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BillyGalbreath View Post
    Ok, I wont go into too much details (yet) about my planning, but what it all comes down to is... I need a 500-600 watt power supply for the computer (pretty powerful little machine, yeah).

    Now, obviously DC-DC is not an option for me, so I am forced to use an inverter. My question is, how much wattage should I get in an inverter to power [let's say] a 600w PSU? I'm looking at a 1000watt inverter, but is this overkill?
    For an inverter, the rule of thumb is 1.5-2x the max wattage of your computer's PSU.

    Honestly, there is no need for a PC in your ride that requires a 600w PSU.
    Most of us (TheLandYacht being a noteable exception) get by with a system that consumes well under 200w.
    Have you looked in the FAQ yet?
    How about the Wiki?



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  4. #4
    Newbie BillyGalbreath's Avatar
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    I dont have a set list of hardware yet, as i've just started planning/research about a week ago. I can, however tell you what I expect out of my PC.

    Firstly and most importantly, it must be fast. I've pretty much made up my mind on anything dual-core at 2.0gHz or higher with 1+mb cache and 800mHz fsb. AMD Athlon X2 looks really good to me (socket AM2).

    The audio must be 8 channel, as that's how many speakers i have. Onboard or PCI is acceptable.

    The video must be nVidia (ATI has poor support for Linux) and capable of running Compiz Fusion smoothly. This is vital for software/front-end plans I have for the future.

    I require the use of 3 harddrives. 2x500gb sataII and 1x80gb sataII.

    I will have all my accessories tied via USB hubs (3x4 port hubs for a total of 12 ports). Ports 1-8 will hold FM tuner, Bluetooth, GPS, Wifi b/g, Keyboard, Mouse, DVD/CD-RW, Lilliput Touch Screen. Ports 9-12 will be open ports to hook up external temporary devices (joysticks, stick drives, external hds, webcam, etc etc).

    I will mainly be using this system as a MP3/Radio/CD replacement, but with GPS, Internet, Bluetooth capabilities. I spend a LOT of time in my car (with and without engine running) and while listening to my music I'd also like to be able to surf the web, or whatnot, with blazing fast speeds.
    -Billy

  5. #5
    Newbie BillyGalbreath's Avatar
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    Sry for the double-post. I was posting from my phone and got a lil excited and pressed the wrong buttons lol!
    -Billy

  6. #6
    Neither darque nor pervert DarquePervert's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BillyGalbreath View Post
    I dont have a set list of hardware yet, as i've just started planning/research about a week ago. I can, however tell you what I expect out of my PC.

    Firstly and most importantly, it must be fast. I've pretty much made up my mind on anything dual-core at 2.0gHz or higher with 1+mb cache and 800mHz fsb. AMD Athlon X2 looks really good to me (socket AM2).

    The audio must be 8 channel, as that's how many speakers i have. Onboard or PCI is acceptable.
    Typically, 8-channel audio is a 7.1 surround setup with subwoofer.
    This is probably going to be overkill for a vehicle, honestly. In a vehicle, you're not going to be able to hear the difference between 7.1, 5.1, 4.1 or anything else unless you're viewing/listening to something that is encoded for 5.1 or better surround. That usually means DVD movies.



    The video must be nVidia (ATI has poor support for Linux) and capable of running Compiz Fusion smoothly. This is vital for software/front-end plans I have for the future.
    I don't know what sort of video you require, but there are some quality motherboards with onboard nVidia graphics that would do you well, I think.
    Using onboard video will save you some power, as well.

    I require the use of 3 harddrives. 2x500gb sataII and 1x80gb sataII.
    That's excessive, IMHO.
    For power concerns, I would go with a single terabyte HDD instead of the pair of 500GB units.
    That said, the multiple hard drive setup is doable, but can be made more efficient. Just ask TheLandYacht, who has 2.2TB in his taxi!

    I will have all my accessories tied via USB hubs (3x4 port hubs for a total of 12 ports). Ports 1-8 will hold FM tuner, Bluetooth, GPS, Wifi b/g, Keyboard, Mouse, DVD/CD-RW, Lilliput Touch Screen. Ports 9-12 will be open ports to hook up external temporary devices (joysticks, stick drives, external hds, webcam, etc etc).
    Go with powered USB hubs if at all possible.
    Again, multiple USB hubs = more power draw. Consolidate the USB hubs and use less power.

    I will mainly be using this system as a MP3/Radio/CD replacement, but with GPS, Internet, Bluetooth capabilities. I spend a LOT of time in my car (with and without engine running) and while listening to my music I'd also like to be able to surf the web, or whatnot, with blazing fast speeds.
    For mobile internet, I'd look into a bradband card from one of the major cell providers (ATT, Sprint, TMobile). For $50/month or so, you can have reasonably fast 'net access as long as you've got a cell signal, for the most part.
    Have you looked in the FAQ yet?
    How about the Wiki?



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  7. #7
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    Even with those specs listed, you will not need much more than 250W.

    And, to top it off, use a Intel cpu with either mobile core 2 duo or desktop core 2 duo setup, they're at 45nm manufacturing process nowadays, and consume very low power levels.

    So, you could most likely get away with a DSATX supply, and cut down to 1x 750gig to 1TB harddrive, you will be ok

    Enjoy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BillyGalbreath View Post
    I spend a LOT of time in my car (with and without engine running) and while listening to my music I'd also like to be able to surf the web, or whatnot, with blazing fast speeds.
    With a 600 watt system, you won't want to use that thing with the engine off for very long.

    Seriously, a terabyte of storage?! You can build whatever you want, that's what this hobby is all about, but I'd advise that if this is your first car pc, start smaller and simpler, then work your way up to the mega-install later.
    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruzer View Post
    I was gung ho on building a PC [until] just recently. However, between my new phone having internet and GPS and all...and this kit...Im starting to have trouble justfiying it haha.
    Want to:
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  9. #9
    Newbie BillyGalbreath's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DarquePervert View Post
    Typically, 8-channel audio is a 7.1 surround setup with subwoofer. This is probably going to be overkill for a vehicle, honestly. In a vehicle, you're not going to be able to hear the difference between 7.1, 5.1, 4.1 or anything else unless you're viewing/listening to something that is encoded for 5.1 or better surround. That usually means DVD movies.
    I am fully aware of this fact, but still - if you're gonna do something, might as well do it right. Plus the cool factor goes up a few extra points for having true 7.1 dolby in a vehicle. How many do you know with true 7.1? None, that I know of.

    Quote Originally Posted by DarquePervert View Post
    I don't know what sort of video you require, but there are some quality motherboards with onboard nVidia graphics that would do you well, I think.
    Using onboard video will save you some power, as well.
    Yeah - I had that in mind when picking out a mobo. My original idea (first mockup) had a PCIe graphics card, but I thought about it and decided onboard would be best. The board in my current mockup (third) has an onboard nVidia GeForce 7050 which is plenty of power to handle DVD playback while using Compiz Fusion.

    Quote Originally Posted by DarquePervert View Post
    That's excessive, IMHO. For power concerns, I would go with a single terabyte HDD instead of the pair of 500GB units. That said, the multiple hard drive setup is doable, but can be made more efficient. Just ask TheLandYacht, who has 2.2TB in his taxi!
    This I honestly did not think of. I'll have to look into these 1TB drives for their stability/reliability/specs. In my current mockup I have an extra 80gb drive to hold the OS and other documents - the reason its so big is it's the smallest drive I have laying around and I really dont want to go out and spend money on a smaller drive. I want to keep the OS on a completely different drive (not just partition) for piece of mind (if one drive fails, I wont lose everything, etc). However, from a power consumption point of view, I can start to see the benefits of using a single drive. This will require more thinking on my part before I make a decision.

    Quote Originally Posted by DarquePervert View Post
    Go with powered USB hubs if at all possible. Again, multiple USB hubs = more power draw. Consolidate the USB hubs and use less power.
    Elaborate for me? I know that having more USB devices uses more power (each device has to draw its power, which bumps up usage), but what do you mean by consolidate? What are the benefits of powered USB hubs (powered from the mobo or from the battery, ultimately they're still drawing the same amount of energy, correct)?

    Quote Originally Posted by DarquePervert View Post
    For mobile internet, I'd look into a bradband card from one of the major cell providers (ATT, Sprint, TMobile). For $50/month or so, you can have reasonably fast 'net access as long as you've got a cell signal, for the most part.
    My thoughts exactly. I have Verizon and I had planed on getting their wireless broadband subscription shortly after building the carpc. Either that, or using my Verizon Voyager cell phone (which has EVDO) to get on the internet (at roughly the same speed as a broadband card).

    Quote Originally Posted by mrbean_phillip View Post
    Even with those specs listed, you will not need much more than 250W.
    Not from what I calculated using those wattage calculators on the forums. I've calculated roughly 450 watt usage. So I decided a 500+watt PSU would be best. Please take a look at my attached mockup and tell me you still think it can be done with under 250 watts. If so, I'd gladly like to know how. Saving energy is a good thing!

    Quote Originally Posted by mrbean_phillip View Post
    And, to top it off, use a Intel cpu with either mobile core 2 duo or desktop core 2 duo setup, they're at 45nm manufacturing process nowadays, and consume very low power levels.
    I've looked at the specs on Intels and they just don't seem to be as good as AMDs are. For starters, the FSB & Cache are always smaller on Intels (which is probably why they run cooler and use less energy). Speed is something I'm not willing to negotiate in this project.

    Quote Originally Posted by mrbean_phillip View Post
    So, you could most likely get away with a DSATX supply, and cut down to 1x 750gig to 1TB harddrive, you will be ok
    Yeah, the more I think about it (while typing this post) the more I like the idea of using 1 drive instead of 3.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bugbyte View Post
    With a 600 watt system, you won't want to use that thing with the engine off for very long.
    Yeha, which is why I'll be using 2 deep cell batteries in my setup (Optima Yellow Top & Optima Red Top).

    Quote Originally Posted by Bugbyte View Post
    Seriously, a terabyte of storage?!
    Yeah. I currently have a music library of about 25,000 (that's twenty-five thousand, NOT 2 thousand five hundred) and it grows everyday. Movies are pretty large in size too (anywhere from 650mb to 4.7gb per movie) and I do have a lot of those too.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bugbyte View Post
    You can build whatever you want, that's what this hobby is all about, but I'd advise that if this is your first car pc, start smaller and simpler, then work your way up to the mega-install later.
    Hehe! You must not know me very much. Let me tell you this... I didn't learn to swim in the 3' section of the pool. My cousin through me in the 15' deep end. Sink or swim. That's how I roll.

    Thanks for all the feedback everyone! This is really helping me out a lot! Got my mind wrapped around a few things I didn't think of - we're off to a good start! Yay!

    * I have attached my current mockup (mockup 3). Take a look to get a better idea of where I'm going with this. Maybe ya'll will see something that needs to be mentioned. Expect this to change a lot (like adding a 3rd amp on those 4 speakers, for instance)

    (everything in the big grey box, I already own)
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    -Billy

  10. #10
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    Looks great, but very complex. With that many USB devices and hubs, I'll be surprised if it all works smoothly and consistently.

    One thing - I presume it is an extra battery you are installing. If so, make sure you have a tank circuit or battery isolator installed.

    Between nearly 3,000 watts of equipment and charging the extra battery, you may need an alternator upgrade. Not sure.
    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruzer View Post
    I was gung ho on building a PC [until] just recently. However, between my new phone having internet and GPS and all...and this kit...Im starting to have trouble justfiying it haha.
    Want to:
    -Find out about the new iBug iPad install?
    -Find out about carPC's in just 5 minutes? View the Car PC 101 video

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