I live in a country where it is legal to buy weed, but not high-end gaming PCs


You can’t buy one in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.


Sometimes I feel like I’m living in the world of Bizarro or the Star Trek mirror universe. Things are pretty weird these days.

No, I am not talking about global epidemics. I’m not even talking about whether corrupt billionaires should fire themselves with heavy-duty projectiles into low Earth orbit instead of doing anything else that isn’t quite as crazy and selfish.

I’m not talking about [insert whatever is your most bonkers belief here]. I’m not talking about the mysterious seeds from China, whether Subway bread is bread or tuna is tuna, whether we’re living in apocalyptic times (or near the next blind corner), or even whatever and everything the royal family does.

No, I’m talking about Dell Alienware computers.

You see, there is a new law in effect in the states of California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. According to Dell, via The Register:

“This was prompted by the California Energy Commission (CEC) Tier 2 implementation that set a mandatory standard for energy efficiency for PCs – including desktop PCs, AIOs, and mobile gaming systems. This was implemented on July 1, 2021. The selector for Alienware configurations was Aurora R10 and R12 are the only systems affected across Dell and Alienware.”

So yes, now (as of July 1) you are not allowed to buy some high-end machines in these countries.

Similar regulations exist in the other five states. This all relates to the premise that computing at our current energy use rates will not be sustainable over time. According to a 2015 report by the Semiconductor Industry Association, “computing will not be sustainable by 2040 when the power required for computing will exceed estimated world power production.”

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, new regulations in California (they don’t even consider all of us in Oregon and other states) could “save more than 2.3 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, which is equivalent to annual electricity use by all homes in San Francisco — and avoid 730,000 tons per year of climate-disrupting carbon pollution from fossil fuel power plants.”

The Natural Resources Defense Council further estimates that “electricity use will be reduced by 20 billion kilowatt-hours – equivalent to the production of seven coal-fired power plants – and carbon pollution will be reduced by 14 million metric tons per year.”

Fortunately, you are not prevented from buying your own parts and building your own PC if you want to. My last high-end tower machine was with 1050W power, driving a bunch of game cards and a dozen hard drives. Regulations don’t prevent us from building this – you can’t buy something super powerful and energy-hungry in ready-made form.

In other words, with great power comes great responsibility.

Look, I’m not saying it’s not that important to save energy. Every report I’ve read shows a very dire future for humanity if we don’t start taking care of our natural resources.

I’m just saying it’s weird living in a country where you can legally buy marijuana and magic mushrooms, but not a high-end gaming device. For me, my favorite drug is caffeine. There aren’t enough coffee shops in Oregon like dispensaries (let that drown out), but there are plenty of great coffee stands. As long as I can get my coffee, and as long as it’s still legal to order outrageously powerful power supplies, processors, and video cards as components if a special-purpose machine is really needed, I’m fine with any regulations that help us reduce energy use.

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