|Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 Toxic Video Card|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Monday, 29 September 2008|
Page 11 of 13
4870 Toxic 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.
The Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 Toxic is no stranger to high power bills based on the fact that it reaches near the very top our chart for power consumption under load (identical to Palit's 4870 Sonic). Even at idle, the Sonic Dual Edition video card gulps the watts down at a faster pace than the GeForce 9800 GX2. Regardless, the power requirements for the Radeon HD 4870 consist of two six-pin PCI-Express power connections to ensure that the RV770 receives enough juice to push out the frames in 3D mode. This may leave some middle-market enthusiasts and lower-end gamers in search of a new power supply force feed the Radeon HD 4870 the power it needs.
Most enthusiasts make the mistake of associating a smaller die process with an improved power efficiency. Clearly, the downside to the 55 nm RV770 GPU is it's lack of energy efficient operation. The power consumption measured under full load doesn't match the performance, but it certainly matched heat output. The idle power draw is extremely high, which is uncommon since emphasis is usually placed on idle/standby mode efficiency and conservation.
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. While loaded power consumption is the highest we've ever seen, the price paid to your utility company for gaming would be about the same with just about any other video card. Once upon a time, the computer and gaming consoles seemed like an inexpensive alternative to arcade gaming... but that was before energy costs soared through the roof.
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.