Is there a way to get the computer power usage instead of battery load tracking (what for instance seemingly powertop does), which is obviously not too useful on desktops?

3 Answers 3


At that point, I would think about using a power monitor to measure the load on the computer at any time.

You could hook up your computer or surge protector to something like Tweet-a-Watt and then keep track of the metrics from there on a per day/week/month basis.

I imagine you could use ACPI/APM to monitor some aspects (and mayhaps power, as well) of the different components of a computer.

And if you're knowledgable about electronics, you could always home-grow your own solution by attaching voltmeters and ammeters to different components to see i.e. graphics card load, hard drive load, etc.

  • thanks for the tip on Tweet-a-Watt. that's very interesting. Oct 26, 2011 at 3:47
  • Two similar answers... first wins =)
    – mbq
    Oct 26, 2011 at 15:47

some UPS devices have displays that track power consumption, too, and there may be ways with the USB connectivity and a program like apcupsd to poll that kind of information for graphing with something like Cacti.

otherwise you're looking at a wall outlet with a display, like a Belkin Conserve Insight F7C005q Energy Use Monitor.

Btw, powertop will work with desktops and show power consumption, as long as you have a relatively modern Intel(tm) system (Intel as in Not AMD, not Intel as in Not Sparc).

  • I have a quite modern Intel system, and powertop reports nothing; any clues how this may work? (i.e. I can imagine it might need some specific acpi driver)
    – mbq
    Oct 26, 2011 at 15:50

This is not a complete answer, but from a software perspective, you can monitor CPU power draw with s-tui. This worked well for me, and has additional features like reporting frequency, temperature, and monitoring under stress testing.

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