New efficiency requirements in California ban some Dell gaming PCs

California and several other states are clamping down on power-hungry PCs.

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If you’re in California and try to buy this Alienware gaming PC from Dell, your order will be canceled. That goes for several other states as well, which have imposed new regulations on power consumption that affect more power-hungry consumer electronics.

Ugh, you bought a Dell — Other states where Dell won’t ship its Alienware Aurora gaming rig include Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. That’s even though Alienware computers are compliant with federal energy efficiency standards.

California in 2016 passed new regulations that mandate energy efficiency standards for different categories of consumer appliances, but the regulations have rolled out in tiers. The Tier II rules went into effect on July 1 and cover PCs including desktops, AIOs, and mobile gaming systems. Most gaming machines machines made after July 1 are restricted to using no more than 50, 60, or 70 kWH of power a year, depending on the type of computer in question. These need to be tested by California-approved laboratories.

Dell’s Alienware rigs consume 63 kWH a year when they’re idle and 563 kWH a year when working in overdrive. So the new requirements are quite restrictive. Dell for its part says that only two systems are restricted in California, the Alienware Aurora R10 and R12.

It’s unclear how many other gaming PCs available on the market today might be affected by the new regulations.

Environmental concerns — Maybe this is all a good thing. The latest and greatest rigs use a massive amount of energy as compared to standard personal computers, and that’s only becoming truer as gamers and cryptocurrency miners demand ever more power. California and the other states involved are basically saying that this isn’t acceptable. And is it hard to blame them? California in particular has suffered numerous deadly wildfires that started from an overloaded power grid. That’s to say nothing of the other environmental concerns of drawing so much electricity.

The new regulations should incentivize PC manufacturers to try and limit power draw. It seems unlikely the free market would do that on its own. Of course, some people will complain this is yet another reason to move to Texas. But that state has had its own problems specifically because of looser regulation on electricity.