Lenovo’s Latest Green PC: The M58p Eco Ultra Small

Lenovo M58p Eco Ultra Small Pc

I’ve been testing a new, very efficient PC called the ThinkCentre M58p Eco Ultra Small by Lenovo. This compact PC is the successor to the ThinkCentre M57p Eco. My kilo-o-watt meter is telling me that the M58p consumes only about 35 watts while idle, and 58 watts of power at peak usage. It has a power supply that is 85% efficient when converting AC to DC power (15% escapes as heat).

Average PC power supplies have an efficiency rate of about 50%. This is the first ThinkCentre to incorporate the Power Manager — a ThinkVantage technology that allows PC users to control their electricity consumption remotely.

The M58p has all the important green certifications: EPEAT Gold, RoHS and Energy Star 4.0. (See our explanation of all these certifications below.)

It’s also the first ThnkCentre to be packaged in materials that are both 100% recycled and 100% recyclable. It also the first ThinkCentre to use post-consumer recycled plastics in its construction. The computer’s front bezel is made with recycled plastic, and the keyboard is made with 35% recycled plastic.

Recently, Lenovo was critized by Greenpeace for missing their own 2009 deadline for eliminating the toxic substances PVC and brominated flame retardants (BFRs). This deadline was pushed to 2010. While the M58p is free of these substances, it would be great to see all of Lenovo’s products be free of PVC and BFRs.

Here’s the Greenpeace 2009 Guide To Greener Electronics, which was released last month.

The M85p retails for about $811.

Home Page: Lenovo

It’s available at Amazon.

Assessing The Green Qualities Of A PC

How do you judge the greenness of a computer? The two most important factors are power consumption, and the elimination of hazardous components inside the machine. Other factors such as the efficiency of the power supply, packaging and the manufacturer’s support for recycling programs are also important. Overall, there are a huge number of factors to assess, but thankfully there are now some eco-certifications that make it easier. The most important certifications are EPEAT (Electronic Products Environmental Assessment Tool), RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) and Energy Star 4.0. All three of these certifications are standardized, so they are more specific in their assessments than the marketing claims or green initiatives of the past. Here’s a brief description of the certifications:

The EPEAT system is currently the most comprehensive verification of a computer’s environmental attributes. EPEAT was created by a consortium of electronics manufacturers, and partially funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. EPEAT evaluates computer desktops, laptops, and monitors based on 51 environmental criteria including Energy Star compliance. If a computer is awarded the EPEAT Gold rating, it is one of the greenest out there. You can see a list of all the desktop computers that achieved a Gold EPEAT rating here. A summary of the criteria can be found here
The new EnergyStar 4.0 certification assesses the power consumption of PCs, but it doesn’t cover other criteria like toxicity. To comply with the new Energy Star 4.0 standard, a desktop PC must use under 50W in idle mode and 4W when asleep.
The RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) directive bans from the EU market any new electrical and electronic equipment containing more than mandated maximum levels of lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium, and two flame retardants. RoHS covers everything in a computer except for the batteries, which are regulated separately.

Comments

  1. Justin says

    John:

    The fit-pc is certainly an efficient machine (it’s in my queue for review on this site), but the specs are not comparable to the ThinkCentre.

    Justin

  2. russ says

    “ThinkCentre to incorporate the Power Manager — a ThinkVantage technology that allows PC users to control their electricity consumption remotely.”

    How does it do the above? What are the additional items needed?

    If greenpeace doesn’t like it then it can’t be all bad!

  3. solar powered says

    How much power does it pull on idle? That’s what really matters. Mac Mini pulls 13W idle and 43W full power. (To the author) You should be using Kill-a-Watt meter when reviewing power usage of computers, and test Watt draw in off, stand-by (sleep), idle and 100% CPU load modes. Then test power factor of power supply at idle and full loads.

  4. Damien Lewis says

    The problem with “green” computers is that they tend to be underpowered. For a gamer, bigger is always better IMO. That’s why I use a very large processor with liquid cooling. Then again, I could care less if it’s energy efficient. Nice PC for the money, but not something a gamer could hatch onto. Gaming PC’s will start getting a lot more energy efficient in the future I predict. Of course, gamers will have the final say. At the end of the day for me, if you think pc’s will ever truly be like Greenpeace wants, fairy dust and pixies inside a box, then there’s really no point in anybody trying to shoot for their biased, often nonfactual “scale”.

  5. says

    Am I mistaken, or does a Mac Mini use only around 20 Watts on standby (according to my Kill-a-watt)? This week I tried to install a Smart Strip power strip on my son’s Mini — the Smart Strip works by measuring voltage change — but turning the Mini on or off didn’t register a high-enough change to cause the Smart Stip to function. So I checked with the Kill-A-Watt, and sure enough, it uses hardly a dribble on standby, or even when full on.

  6. solar powered says

    Thanks for clarification. I am leaning towards going with Mac Mini as my next desktop. I am trying to find out if it’s possible to duplicate the mini’s energy efficiency using off the shelf parts, but also achieving same performance. The reason, is that I want to use 12 or 24 VDC input power supply instead of 120 VAC, so it will run directly from my solar battery bank at better efficiency.

  7. Nate says

    Bah, if you want real energy efficiency, get a MacBook. I measured mine (battery removed, of course) at 20 watts idle (screen, wifi, and bluetooth off). Screen at full brightness added 6 watts, so did maxing out both cores with two instances of ‘yes > /dev/null’. Bluetooth and Wifi were both ~1 watt.

    Want a real green PC? Buy a MacBook and resell the battery, then use it as a desktop. You’d have to hot glue to MagSafe connector on, though. You’ll save $100, and don’t have to worry about the pesky disposal issues with LiCoO2 batteries. Unfortunately, the power brick pumps out 16.5 V, so you’d need a power converter to run on solar.

  8. Nate says

    Bah, if you want real energy efficiency, get a MacBook. I measured mine (battery removed, of course) at 18 watts idle (screen, wifi, and bluetooth off). Screen at full brightness added 6 watts, so did maxing out both cores with two instances of ‘yes > /dev/null’. Bluetooth and Wifi were both ~1 watt.

    Want a real green PC? Buy a MacBook and resell the battery, then use it as a desktop. You’d have to hot glue to MagSafe connector on, though. You’ll save $100, and don’t have to worry about the pesky disposal issues with LiCoO2 batteries. Unfortunately, the power brick pumps out 16.5 V, so you’d need a power converter to run on solar.

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