New Power Regulations Are Stopping Some Gamers From Buying New Gaming PCs

New Power Regulations Are Stopping Some Gamers From Buying New Gaming PCs
Image: Dell/Kotaku Australia

Tired: Not being able to buy a gaming PC because parts are unavailable or overpriced. Wired: Not being able to buy gaming PCs because your state government thinks it uses too much power.

The ban has impacted sales of Dell Alienware gaming desktop PCs — specifically the Aurora R10 and R12 so far — in several US states. Australians won’t have any issue buying the R10 and R12 pre-built systems, but for those living in California, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, Hawaii or Colorado, new state laws around power efficiency means they won’t be able to buy the PCs at all.

“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,” Dell’s website says to affected customers, according to The Register.

Dell further confirmed that the ban on sales was directly related to a new “mandatory energy efficiency standard” affecting not just desktop gaming rigs, but all desktops, laptops and AIOs.

“This was driven 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 was put into effect on July 1, 2021. Select configurations of the Alienware Aurora R10 and R12 were the only impacted systems across Dell and Alienware,” Dell told The Register.

It’s not just PCs that are impacted, though. From December 9, the new energy commission laws will require high-refresh rate gaming monitors and multi-screen notebooks to meet certain energy standards as well. (Interestingly, the legislation only defines gaming monitors with more than 300Hz refresh rate as a ‘fast refresh rate gaming monitor’.)

Here’s a quick table of some of the energy standards PCs are expected to meet:

Image: Energy Code Ace

If you want to get really technical, you can dig into the full Title 20 legislation here. The long and short of it is that gaming PCs can still be sold in those states, but if they’re manufactured after July 1 this year, they’re required to achieve certain power efficiency targets when idle for short periods, long periods, when sleeping and when fully turned off. How much power is acceptable depends on precisely what’s in the system.

As Gizmodo explains, next-gen consoles aren’t part of these new regulations. There’s also an exemption for “very high performance monitors” — although that only covers 27-inch screens with 4K resolutions or higher, so any new 1440p/240Hz gaming screens will have power consumption and brightness requirements:

Image: Energy Code Ace

I wouldn’t be surprised if we see manufacturers optimise or do more work on idle power usage as a result, since we’re certainly not expecting GPUs or CPUs to use less power any time soon. But as regulators become more active on combating climate change usage via lots of different means, it wouldn’t be surprising to see other countries implement their own, stricter power efficiency requirements.


  • “As Gizmodo explains, next-gen consoles aren’t part of these new regulations.”
    I assume Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo pay their lobbyists well. The ‘zero-emissions’ lobby has done a wonderful job of killing off competitive alternative fuels that could threaten them, you love to see other lobbyists achieving success.

    It’s not too far-fetched to assume they may very well start to regulate power usage of all PC’s down the line, regardless of pre-built or self-built.

    • Law applies to new products, current consoles are considered existing products and are probably exempt for that reason.

      Any future consoles will have to comply.

    • It’s probably more due to the fact that the PC market is much more competitive, and individual models are mostly interchangeable. So they can put pressure on the market without completely destroying it. If you can’t buy a particular Alienware PC from Dell, you’ll be able to buy something else that complies with the regulations and does what you want.

      If the regulations forbid sale of e.g. PlayStation 5s, then it would be impossible to buy a machine capable of running PS5 software.

    • It’s been happening in Europe and various states in North America for literally decades. It happens with cars, refrigerators, packaging, computer monitors and thousands of other products. The inevitable result is that we get more efficient less petrol dependent cars, computer monitors that happily turn themselves off when we’re not watching them, and less packaging to cram into our giant rubbish bins all at a significant whole of life cost savings to the consumer.

      And it entirely is too far-fetched to assume they may very well start to regulate power usage of all PC’s down the line, regardless of pre-built or self-built. What do you think they’d going do, knock on your door and rummage around your gaming room with voltage meters? No need to answer that, we know you’re prepping right now for just that eventuality.

      Dude, you just keep championing your right to drive your petrol guzzling monster truck to the supermarket, while savouring each bite of that Big Mac you’ve transferred into your own non-biodegradable Styrofoam packaging, while dreaming about how smart and radical you are spearheading the revolution against evil liberal hippies who hate fun one Kotaku comment at a time.

      In the meantime, the rest of us are going to happily enjoy our reduced energy bills, more efficient appliances and cleaner air, thank you very much.

      • The car example made this weird.
        They want our computers and appliances to be super energy efficient… but the energy use of one electric car is 100 to 200 times that.

        That’s comparing a 500W PSU Computer versus a 85000W Car.

      • For a moment there I thought you were turning into Denis Leary…

        Anyways, I don’t think I’ve ever agreed with you more on something.

        The ‘anti-anything that helps the environment’ brigade always completely fucking baffles me to no end. Take the ‘Climate change is a myth!’ zealots specifically.

        Like sure, fine climate change deniers. Let’s get crazy for a bit… Let’s say you’re all actually completely reasonable people, climate change is absolutely a myth, and the ice shelves are totally refreezing saving us all from eradication in the 2040’s.

        Meanwhile would any one of you kindly tell us precisely what the fuckin’ downside is to finding more efficient, renewable and overall less damaging ways to do shit?

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