That headline might seem a little confusing if you live under a rock. The US state of California has caught a lot of flack over its bureaucracy. The state has been working on improving power efficiency for some time, and this has led to a lot of confusion. A new power regulation relating to gaming and workstation PCs in some states has caused a ton of confusion. It’s vital to understand that not all PCs are affected.
The new CEC power regulations in California have become a model for various states. The regulations have been in the works for some time. Documents on Intel’s website explain things a bit more. The regulation is designed to encourage the usage of certain high-end PSUs, and those systems assembled in the last 18 months or so. An exemption for systems with 600w PSUs and a discrete GPU with a certain RAM configuration. The assumption is that more modern components fall into these exempted categories. It’s unclear what impact the ongoing GPU crisis will have on these standards and their enforceability.
There are also exceptions for laptops with a frame buffer of 128 GB/s; a memory pool of 16 GB or greater; and a power configuration with a 75 watt-hour battery and 150 watts or more pulled from the power adapter.
More regulations are coming, too. On December 9, 2021, Tier 2 requirements will expand to “computers with high-speed networking capability, multi-screen notebooks, notebooks with cyclical behavior, and monitors with high refresh rates.”
YouTuber and tech influencer JayzTwoCents made a very comprehensive video on all this, which can be seen below.
Of note to PC gamers is the fact of who this regulation is designed to target. The CEC power regulations are designed to reduce power consumption for corporate clients and within OEMs. These companies are the biggest source of power draw for PCs, as they often have thousands of machines running each day across their offices.
The goal is to allow for higher-efficiency PSUs to be a target for most companies. Another area of note is GPUs. Graphics Cards that use higher-efficiency GDDR6X which exceeds 600Gbps in bandwidth. Out of the current crop of GPUs, only Nvidia options hit this note. Various models of the 3070ti, 3080, 3080ti and 3090 all have GDDR6X which exceeds 600Gbps. Various mid-range cards such as the RTX 3060 (360GB/s) or Radeon RX 6700 XT (512GB/s) do not make the cut.
Dell and possibly other OEMs have declined to ship pre-built PCs to various states, with notably west coast states being affected. For the time being, Dell is no longer shipping certain Alienware Aurora R12 and R10 gaming PC configurations to half a dozen US states. This shipping stop has not affected all Alienware models, so the models that do pass by the regulation will not show a warning.
“This product cannot be shipped to the states of California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont, or Washington due to power consumption regulations adopted by those states. Any orders placed that are bound for those states will be canceled,” the message states.
This is no real issue to self-building PC gamers, and these states can’t enforce such regulations against consumers anyway. So if you build your own system, nothing is going to fundamentally change. If you’re buying from system builders or from partially assembled “kit PCs”, there’s very little that will change for you either. But as climate change worsens and governments rush to find ways to cut consumption, that may not hold true forever.