|MSI Radeon HD 4850 Video Card R4850-512M|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Tuesday, 14 October 2008|
Page 11 of 13
VGA Power Consumption
Life is not as affordable as it used to be, and items such as gasoline, natural gas, and electricity all top the list of resources which have exploded in price over the past few years. Add to this the limit of non-renewable resources compared to current demands, and you can see that the prices are only going to get worse. Planet Earth is needs our help, and needs it badly. With forests becoming barren of vegetation and snow capped poles quickly turning brown, the technology industry has a new attitude towards suddenly becoming "green". I'll spare you the powerful marketing hype that I get from various manufacturers every day, and get right to the point: your computer hasn't been doing much to help save energy... at least up until now.
To measure isolated video card power consumption, Benchmark Reviews uses the Kill-A-Watt EZ (model P4460) power meter made by P3 International. A baseline test is taken without a video card installed inside our computer system, which is allowed to boot into Windows and rest idle at the login screen before power consumption is recorded. Once the baseline reading has been taken, the graphics card is installed and the system is again booted into Windows and left idle at the login screen. Our final loaded power consumption reading is taken with the video card running a stress test using FurMark. Below is a chart with the isolated video card power consumption (not system total) displayed in Watts for each specified test product:
* Results are accurate to within +/- 5W.
In regard to power requirements, MSI's Radeon HD 4850 doesn't have the same hunger for electricity as we've seen some of the latest video cards crave. By using the Kill A Watt EZ model P4460 power meter by P3 International, I was able to determine that the MSI R4850 consumed identical power to that of the Sapphire Radeon HD 4850. The 4850 requires a single six-pin PCI-Express power connection to ensure that the RV770 receives enough juice to push out the frames in 3D mode. Middle-market enthusiasts and lower-end gamers will appreciate that their existing power supply may still be up to the task of feeding the Radeon HD 4850 the power it needs without an additional upgrade expense.
The downside is the lack of efficiency in the 55nm RV770. The loaded power consumption measured for this MSI Radeon HD 4850 is on the same level as a loaded NVIDIA GeForce GTX 280; something that either speaks well for NVIDIA or poorly for ATI. The idle power draw is minimal which is not uncommon since emphasis is usually placed on idle/standby mode efficiency and conservation, but still much higher than the GeForce 9800 GTX which it competes against.
Things look only a little better when two HD 4850's are combined into a CrossFireX set. At idle, the CrossFireX set consumes approximately 123 watts of power - roughly equivalent to two separate Radeon HD 4850's added together. The surprise comes under full load, which raises the power consumption to only 210 watts - on the level of a GTX 280 under full load.
Taken as a whole the idle stand-by power consumption is pretty unforgivable, especially since this the condition your equipment will be in the majority of the time. On the other hand, loaded consumption is not entirely bad... emphasis on entirely. Feel free to game without the guilt though, because you would be paying the same to your utility company with just about any other video card.
Please continue to the review conclusion in the next section, where I share my final thoughts on the RV770 graphics processor and give my opinion of the new Radeon HD 4800-series product offerings.