|Zotac GeForce GTX-480 Fermi Video Card|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Tuesday, 11 May 2010|
Page 17 of 19
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 turning "green". I'll spare you the powerful marketing hype that gets sent 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.
For power consumption tests, Benchmark Reviews utilizes the 80-PLUS GOLD certified OCZ Z-Series Gold 850W PSU, model OCZZ850. This power supply unit has been tested to provide over 90% typical efficiency by Chroma System Solutions. 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 test computer system, which is allowed to boot into Windows-7 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.
When Benchmark Reviews first tested the NVIDIA GeForce GTX-480 engineering sample, the idle power draw was a thirsty 52 watts of electricity, and perhaps among the highest idle power draw we've measured for DirectX-11 generation graphics cards. This level of consumption is slightly higher than the 48W we measured for the dual-GPU ATI Radeon HD 5970, and more than twice the demand of ATI's Radeon HD5870 and HD5850.
Unlike the dramatic decrease in temperature, the retail firmware didn't massage GPU cores to the same extent, and idle power draw on the Zotac GeForce GTX 480 was 48W... down only 4W. I suppose it's a start in the right direction, but Fermi proves to have a big power appetite when it should be snacking on only a few watts.
Once 3D-applications begin to demand power from the GPU, electrical power consumption really begins to climb. Measured at full 3D load, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480 engineering sample set a new maximum power record and consumed 370 watts. With a more mature BIOS controlling the unit, our retail Zotac GeForce GTX 480 slimmed down to 355W... a decrease of 15W.
Although Fermi features a 40nm fabrication process, there's nothing 'Green' about the power demand under load. Sure, the performance-per-watt ratio is higher on the GTX480 than the other cards, but it comes with a cost to consumable energy. Putting things into perspective, the enthusiast PC gamer who can afford the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480 probably isn't very worried about a few extra dollars on their power bill each month.