It’s about getting harder to get a game computer

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Photo: Sam Rutherford – Dell already restricts the shipment of some high-end desktop configurations to six states.

The purchase of a new graphics card is already difficult, but the order of pre-built systems by some PC manufacturers for people living in some states has just become much more complicated by the recent energy rules.

Although the Energy Regulations in question were actually adopted in 2016, with some recent changes scheduled for the coming months, some PC vendors have begun to restrict shippings of certain high-end desktop configurations to conform to state rules.

Just this week, a Reddit user posted a thread with a Dell website screenshot that Dell cannot ship the Aurora pre-built desktop PC to California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington because of the power consumption regulations. “All orders placed in these States are canceled” said Dell. Dell said.

And while Dell may be the first provider to introduce new restrictions on the basis of recent State guidelines, it seems that more PC manufacturers could comply.

According to the statement provided by Dell in the Register, Alienware’s Aurora R10 and Aurora R12 desktops were the only models currently being affected, Dell saying that ‘the California Energy Commissioner (CEC) Tier 2 implemented a decision to prohibit shipments to some states, defining a mandatory PC energy efficiency standard, including desktops and AIOs and other regulatory requirements.

While a large number of the regulations appear to be sensitive and look inspired by similar energy star standards (particularly in relation to excessive power generation on idle PCs), certain CEC rules seem to be a little out of touch with contemporary equipment.

According to section 1605 of the guidelines of the CEC, for example, one regulation states that, after July 1, 2019, any computer monitors manufactured with a “screen luminance less than or equivalent to 200 cd/m2, ± 35%.” This is about the same as 200 nits (or 270 nits for the margin of error), which is significantly dimmer than that from modern displays with a typical output of at least 300 nits or more, not to mention beastly displays like the newly announced Neo G9 from Samsung which has typical 420 nits brightness and a maximum lightness of 2000 nits.

And although the CEC’s monitors rules contain a provision which states that, “a manufacturer may ship even when they have been turned off in tests with additional features enabled,” it remains unclear whether or not the high brightness from today’s monitors is accepted.

In relation to pre-constructed desktop computers, while the CEC allows for higher power drawing for systems with discrete graphics and other power-hungry components — systems produced on 1 July 2021 are restricted to a maximum capacity draw of 85 kilowatt hours per year, and some wipe room is based on a specific configuration.

Electronics like game consoles (PS5, Xbox Series S/X, etc.) and DIY desktop PCs are not subject to these regulations, so there are some remaining avenues when it comes to buying high-end PC parts. However, with the limited supply of standalone graphics cards due to the ongoing chip crunch, many PC gamers have started turning to pre-built systems as a way to more easily obtain Nvidia’s and AMD’s newest GPUs.

Although it remains to be seen whether and when other desktop manufacturers are starting to implement shipping restrictions similar to Dell, several states face rising power requirements to fight record temperatures throughout the country. Trying to balance new technology with responsible power use will become an ever-increasing subject.

Gizmodo went to Dell for more information and a statement, and if we hear it, we’ll update the story.