PopcornHour C200 power consumption revisited

In part 2 of my ‘Mediadevices power reduction quest’ I examined the amount power used by my always-on PopcornHour C200 mediatank. The original power supply died after two years of continues use, so I replaced it with an ATX supply from a donor PC. The amount of current drawn by the C200 was way more than I expected, but I suspected the not-so-standard supply might be to blame.

c200 power supplyAlthough replaced by my brand new Mac Mini, I ordered a new and orignal power supply. Mainly because the C200 would have no resale value in its DIY state, but I was also curious what the difference in power usage would be. It came in today, so time to measure some more to see what difference the new supply makes.

Out came my trusted Fluke 87, I plugged it in and immediately I saw a drop in current compared to my DIY donor power supply; 42 mA vs. 57 mA. That’s a significant 26% drop. Once turned on, the differences became even more apparent. Measurements showed the orignal power supply used an average of 75 mA, that’s 17,6 watts, less during normal operation. Another thing I noticed  comparing the ‘before and after’ values was the difference between the various states the C200 can be in. With the non-original power supply, the difference between e.g. the hard disk spinning or spinned down was only about 10 mA, while with the new original supply, the difference is 22(!) mA.

These measurements show different power supplies can make a significant change in overall power consumption. My knowledge of ATX power supply is only limited, but it looks like the original PSU only provides the current as needed, while the non-original PSU, with higher power rating I might add, is always at some kind of a base energy level in order to quickly deliver higher demands of power. Something not necessary for a relative low-power device like the PopcornHour C200.

Would knowing this have affected my decision to buy a MacMini to replace the C200? No. Although power consumption was what made me think again about all my media equipment, there were a lot of other factors that pointed me in that direction. More functionality and flexibility being among them. If I didn’t want to sell the C200, I wouldn’t have ordered a new PSU in the first place and would’ve continued on with the power hungry power supply for many… well… months to come.

Another thing to mention is the specified power consumption at popcornhour.com. It’s rated, and I quote: typical: 13 W (no additional device installed/attached). In its ‘typical’, white-ring power state without doing anything else, the C200 uses 19,5 watts of power. That’s almost a third more! Orange-ring state only uses 0.5 watts less. The only time it uses less is when it’s completely powered off (9,4 watts), but that’s not ‘typical’ use. False advertising perhaps? Something PopcornHour is not shy of (network speed anyone?)

For those who are interested, here are the actual measured values. Mains is 235 volts where I live. I will  use the powerbuttons color for the different power states:

  • Standby: Red
  • Idle, no picture: orange
  • Idle, picture: white
State Donor PSU mA
Orig. PSU mA
 Standby (red)  57 (13,4W)  40 (9,4W)
 Boot with HDD  190 (44,7W)  115 (27W)
 Boot without HDD  175 (41,1W)  86 (20,2W)
 Orange HDD spin up  182 (42,8W)  108 (25,4W)
 Ornage HDD spin down  172 (40,4W)  83 (19,5W)
 Orange without HDD  168 (39,5W)  81 (19W)
 White HDD spin up  183 (43W)  108 (25,4W)
 White HDD spin down  173 (40,7W)  86 (20,2W)
 White without HDD  169 (39,7W)  83 (19,5W)
 Orange, SMB access  ?  108 (25,4W)
 White, SMB access  175(41,1W)  114 (26,8W)

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About thijsdebont

Enthausiast electronics DIY'er and music lover. Passion for (tube) audio equipment in particular, but I get sidetracked by all things digital as well.

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