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New energy regulations cause Dell to halt sales of high-performance PCs in six states

Six US states have implemented new regulations for high-performance PCs, saying that energy-hungry computers are contributing to increased electricity taxes and greenhouse gas emissions.

Following the introduction of an energy bill in California, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont and Washington recently adopted new energy consumption standards that affect the sale of certain pre-built PCs, reports The register.

In response, Dell recently beat all but two of its Alienware gaming console models in the affected areas. Sales stoppages seem to drive almost the amount of configurations available and include machines with Intel and AMD processors, as well as the sporty Nvidia and AMD Radeon GPUs.

Disclaimer posted on the Dell website reads:

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. All bookings associated with these states will be canceled.

Dell confirmed the decision in a statement to the outlet, saying that California’s energy regulations are to blame.

“Yes, this was powered by the California Energy Commission (CEC) Tier 2 implementation that defined a mandatory energy efficiency standard for PCs – including desktops, AIOs and mobile gaming systems. This went into effect July 1, 2021. Select configurations of the Alienware Aurora R10 and R12 were the only affected systems across Dell and Alienware, “the company said.

Because the regulation applies to preconfigured computers, buyers may be able to comply with the restriction by customizing the order.

A CEC spokesman said The register it was not aware of any interference from suppliers in California caused by the Tier 2 rules.

It is unclear whether Apple’s top Mac, Mac Pro 2019, falls under the states’ energy consumption restrictions. According to Apple, a well-equipped Mac Pro with a 2.5 GHz 28-core Intel Xeon W processor, two Radeon Pro Vega II Duo MPX modules, 1.5 TB RAM, Afterburner card and a 4 TB SSD 302 W on idle and huge 902 W when the CPU is maximized. These numbers are much higher than the specifications from Dell (PDF link) for an Alienware Ryzen Edition that is no longer shipped to the six states.

As mentioned by The register, hardware requirements vary by device type and configuration, so Mac Pro may fall within the CEC guidelines.

AppleInsider has contacted Apple for comment.

In 2016, California approved a groundbreaking set of regulations regarding energy efficiency limits for computers as the state worked to achieve climate policy goals, the report said. A CEC personnel report published at the time showed that computers and monitors accounted for about 3% of homes and 7% of commercial energy use in the state.

A subsequent study published in 2019 took a closer look at computer games and the effect on power consumption. According to the report, gaming PCs in California used 4.1 terawatt hours per year in 2016, which is equivalent to 700 million dollars in energy bills and 1.5 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions. It accounted for one-fifth of all electricity consumption allocated to the housing category “miscellaneous”.

Of all the energy consumed by gaming equipment, 66% went to consoles, 31% to desktops, 3% to laptops and less than 1% to “new media for streaming devices,” the CEC found. Despite being a large part of California’s gaming money, the consoles are not affected by the new regulations.

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