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How Much Electricity Is Used to Power a PC? (Costs In All 50 States)

PC computer power cable

How Much Electricity Is Used to Power a PC? (Costs In All 50 States)

How much electricity does it take to power a PC? It’s admittedly fun to get lost in the swirl of specs and other tech when building a new PC. However, when it comes down to the cost of running it, that’s an entirely different matter. Thankfully, the math behind everything isn’t complicated. Users who are curious about how much power their PCs use can figure out a rough estimate of their monthly and yearly expenses with a pair of mathematical formulas.

Figuring Out How Much Power Your PC Uses

CPU and GPU

The two biggest elements in how much it costs to power a PC are the CPU and the GPU. This makes sense when you consider that most of the heavy lifting of a computer starts with these two core components. Now, you’ll find typical power ratings on any given CPU, like the Ryzen 5 7600.

The 7600 has quite a few specs that you can see just on the box, with the power requirements also included. This particular CPU draws 65 watts from the wall, so you know it’ll need at least a 180-watt power supply unit.

GPUs can also be quite power-hungry, especially when you get into some of the higher-end materials. Consider the NVIDIA RTX 4090, which needs a minimum of 850 watts from the power supply unit. This can hike the cost up quite considerably when you think about what is needed to power a PC.

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Other Components

The other parts of your computer or laptop also play a role in how much power you can expect to consume. It isn’t nearly as substantial as a CPU or GPU but will be factored into the cost of how much it takes to power a PC. Users running multiple SSDs and RAM modules will see a higher overall total than someone just sticking with a minimal configuration.

The core components of a laptop are also typically less needy when it comes to power consumption. Laptops are built for power efficiency, something that isn’t a huge consideration when looking at desktops.

Monitors and Speakers

power a pc
An external display can account for 40 or more watts of power consumption.

Monitors and speakers should also be factored into your overall power consumption. A monitor can be a considerable power drain, at least when factoring in the cost of how much it takes to power a PC. If you have multiple monitors in your setup, that can raise the price quite dramatically.

The same also applies to speakers, especially if you’re running a high-end soundbar or surround sound system. These have power ratings in the hundreds of watts and can drive the price up quite a bit. It paints an interesting picture when you start factoring in all the different elements that go into your daily PC usage.

Electricity Cost by State

States A to H

StateCost of Electricity per Kilowatt-Hour
Alabama13.2 cents per kWh
Alaska20.63 cents per kWh
Arizona12.73 cents per kWh
Arkansas10.5 cents per kWh
California26.76 cents per kWh
Colorado12.28 cents per kWh
Connecticut18.12 cents per kWh
Delaware11.35 cents per kWh
Florida11.45 cents per kWh
Georgia11.71 cents per kWh
Hawaii35.81 cents per kWh

States I to M

StateCost of Electricity per Kilowatt-Hour
Idaho9.32 cents per kWh
Illinois11.35 cents per kWh
Indiana11.8 cents per kWh
Iowa12.06 cents per kWh
Kansas11.36 cents per kWh
Kentucky11.19 cents per kWh
Louisiana9.71 cents per kWh
Maine17.8 cents per kWh
Maryland12.22 cents per kWh
Massachusetts18.74 cents per kWh
Michigan13.3 cents per kWh
Minnesota13.13 cents per kWh
Mississippi12.18 cents per kWh
Missouri11.82 cents per kWh
Montana12.36 cents per kWh

States N to P

StateCost of Electricity per Kilowatt-Hour
Nebraska9.78 cents per kWh
Nevada12.59 cents per kWh
New Hampshire19.83 cents per kWh
New Jersey15.01 cents per kWh
New Mexico12.08 cents per kWh
New York19.75 cents per kWh
North Carolina9.9 cents per kWh
North Dakota7.78 cents per kWh
Ohio10.58 cents per kWh
Oklahoma10.04 cents per kWh
Oregon10.19 cents per kWh
Pennsylvania11.02 cents per kWh

States R to W

StateCost of Electricity per Kilowatt-Hour
Rhode Island16.6 cents per kWh
South Carolina10.74 cents per kWh
South Dakota10.44 cents per kWh
Tennessee12.01 cents per kWh
Texas9.07 cents per kWh
Utah8.4 cents per kWh
Vermont17.68 cents per kWh
Virginia9.12 cents per kWh
Washington9.88 cents per kWh
West Virginia10.83 cents per kWh
Wisconsin12.95 cents per kWh
Wyoming9.98 cents per kWh

What Does It Cost to Power a PC: Desktops?

power a pc
A gaming PC can be quite a power-hungry device to have in your home.

If you’ve put together the power ratings of all your components into a calculator, you should have a rough estimate. This rough estimate is just a static number, and not indicative of power consumption. However, you can take this rough estimate and apply it elsewhere, as will be demonstrated.

PCs use power in the watts range, despite power companies charging by kilowatt-hour. As you’ll see, however, this is broadly applicable to any computer user. Before starting with the math, we’ll be using three rough figures.

First up is a basic desktop PC, one like you might use in an office. These can typically use 50 to 150 watts. Next is a mid-range gaming PC, like something running an RTX 3060 and a mid-range processor. These typically use between 70 to 350 watts of power.

Finally, a high-end gaming desktop, like something running an RTX 4090. These PCs can use between 100 watts to 1500 watts at any given point. The lower number for each of these idealized computers is more typical of its state at idle. The upper range would denote the PC under load.

What can be done is to take a rough average of each of those figures and apply it to a basic formula. You’ll also add around 40 to 50 watts of power to your monitor. For the sake of demonstration, only one monitor will be included in any estimates given.

Doing the Math

Now that we have some basic figures, it’s time to apply them to the overall costs of powering a PC. Starting with the basic business desktop, you’re looking at a maximum of 190 watts of power under load. An hour of use equates to 0.19 kilowatts. To determine how much you use over an eight-hour day, it would be the following formula:

kilowatts * active hours of use = total usage per day

So with the business desktop, you’d be using 1.52 kilowatts per day, a fairly conservative amount. To determine how much you use per month, you’d be using 30.5 days as an average, like the following:

kilowatts per day * 30.5 = kilowatts of power used monthly

The business desktop uses around 46.36 kilowatts per month, which is still on the light side of things. Finally, you would take the cost of electricity for your state, and multiply this end result to get your total cost. For the sake of demonstration, we’ll be using the national average, but you can easily adapt this as necessary.

monthly kilowatts * cost per kwh = total cost

The national average cost of electricity is 13.11 cents per kWh at the time of this writing. That business desktop would use around $6.08 of power monthly. The mid-range gaming desktop would use 3.1 kilowatts daily, and 95.2 kilowatts monthly. It would cost $12.48 monthly.

Finally, the high-end gaming desktop, the real monster in the room, would use 12.32 kilowatts per hour, 375.76 kilowatts a month, and would cost $49.26 a month. You can see a massive difference in overall cost just by the intended use of your PC.

High-end gaming computers are going to cost more, just by the simple nature of the components and their power needs.

What Does It Cost to Power a PC?: Laptops

Laptops use far less power than their desktop brethren. You can see this, especially with the low-power MacBook line from Apple. However, you’re going to pay considerably less than any desktop, regardless of the laptop you’re using. For the sake of demonstration, it’ll be supposed that the power adapter is always plugged in for the laptop.

A MacBook Air 13-inch uses around 60 watts, so there’s our first figure. Your average 17-inch Windows laptop is going to use about 90 watts, so there’s the second figure in use. Finally, a high-end gaming laptop is going to use about 180 watts on average.

These will also be applied across an eight-hour day, just to keep the numbers themselves fairly uniform across the board.

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Doing the Math

Using the aforementioned formulas, you can arrive at some minimal costs. A MacBook Air being run eight hours a day is going to use 0.48 kilowatts. It’ll use an absolute maximum of 14.64 kilowatts monthly. Using that same national average of 13.11 cents per kilowatt-hour, you’ll find the total cost to be $1.92 a month. This is quite a substantial difference from a business desktop.

The same formulas can be applied to the 17-inch laptop at 90 watts. It will use 0.72 kilowatts daily, and 21.9 kilowatts monthly. The larger laptop costs $2.87 a month to use it. Again, this is substantially less overall than a mid-range gaming desktop or business desktop. You can definitely see the aim of most manufacturers to keep power consumption down.

Finally, the gaming laptop. You’ll find it uses 1.44 kilowatts daily. Over a month, that same laptop will be using 43.92 kilowatts. When averaging out the cost per month, the average gaming laptop will cost $5.76. While gaming laptops are higher in overall power consumption, they’re still significantly less demanding than a high-end gaming desktop.

Still Not Sure How Much Power You’re Using?

If you’re still not sure how much power your components are using, you can purchase an electricity usage monitor to find out your exact electrical consumption. It may be helpful to plug your entire surge protector into the monitor to measure all of the peripherals that go into running your PC.

After a normal week of usage, check the monitor to see how much electricity was consumed by your PC. Multiply that by the cost of electricity in your state to find out how much it costs you to run your PC every week.

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Closing Thoughts

So, how much does it take to power a PC? It can vary for your chosen PC, especially if you’re running a laptop or a desktop. However, you’ll find that most of them come out to be rather affordable. High-end gaming desktops can functionally use as much power as a home appliance. However, most users building these expensive rigs understand the power requirements needed.

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    • Supports 4K 120Hz HDR, 8K 60Hz HDR
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    • Third-Gen RT Cores
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Frequently Asked Questions

Does every PC have the same power needs?

No, it will vary heavily on a component basis.

Do laptops use less power?

Typically, yes, they have less power needs than a full-blown desktop PC.

Do GPUs consume a lot of power?

It varies depending on the sort of GPU being used. Really high-end ones can require quite a bit of power just to function.

What's the most expensive state for electricity costs?

Hawaii is the current most expensive, with a few others like California and Alaska following behind with electricity costs above 20 cents per kWh.

What's the cheapest state for electricity costs?

Currently, the lowest cost per kWh can be found in Utah, at 8.4 cents.

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