The following post is a collection of excerpts from a draft of my Ph.D. depth paper, less citations, which exist in the original document.
Few computer systems spend all of their time at full utilization; even in always-on situations such as servers, a properly provisioned system will be spend almost all of its time at less than 50% utilization. Since most personal computers remain idle for extended periods of time ((In the context of this document, idle systems are ones that are on but performing no useful work.)), consumers should be considering a computer’s idle power draw when purchasing a computer. However, performance per watt is often the number that is compared.