|MSI N560GTX-Ti GeForce Video Card|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Bruce Normann|
|Sunday, 30 January 2011|
Page 17 of 19
MSI N560GTX-Ti Twin Frozr II/OC Temperatures
It's hard to know exactly when the first video card got overclocked, and by whom. What we do know is that it's hard to imagine a computer enthusiast or gamer today that doesn't overclock their hardware. Of course, not every video card has the head room. Some products run so hot that they can't suffer any higher temperatures than they generate straight from the factory. This is why we measure the operating temperature of the video card products we test.
To begin testing, I use GPU-Z to measure the temperature at idle as reported by the GPU. Next I use FurMark 1.8.2 to generate maximum thermal load and record GPU temperatures at high-power 3D mode. The ambient room temperature remained stable at 25C throughout testing. I have a ton of airflow into the video card section of my benchmarking case, with a 200mm side fan blowing directly inward, so that helps alleviate any high ambient temps.
The MSI N560GTX-Ti Twin Frozr II/OC video card recorded 29C in idle mode, and increased to 58C after 30 minutes of stability testing in full 3D mode, at 1920x1200 resolution, and the maximum MSAA setting of 8X. With the fan set on Automatic, the speed rose to 54% under full load. The idle fan speed is a relatively high 40%, which is fine because the two fans are pretty much inaudible at that setting. I then did a run with manual fan control and 100% fan speed. I was rewarded by a modest increase in fan noise and a reduced load temperature of 53C.
58C is a good result for temperature stress testing, especially with such a powerful GPU, stock fan settings, a moderately high ambient of 25C, and fan speeds controlled by the card. I'm used to seeing video card manufacturers keeping the fan speeds low and letting GPU temps get into higher temperature regions. In this case, the fan controller ramped up nicely to the 54% mark when running on auto. With high quality PWM-controlled fans that run fairly quiet, I didn't notice a major shift in fan noise, either. There is definitely some benefit to running the fan harder, as you can see from the 100% fan results above where the temperature was lowered by 5C. Most users will not have to make custom software profiles to optimize the fan speeds on this non-reference design.On the flip side, unless you've got the luxury and the maniacal streak needed to play video games 24 hours a day, your graphics card spends a lot of time idling while you're at work. With this card, the fan controller keeps the idle speed up to 40% and your card stays cool during the off-hours.
Load temps got up to a maximum of 61C when the GPU was overclocked to 975 MHZ, and I was running continuous gaming benchmarks. That may seem high, but the GPU ws running on the brink of 1 GHz and, I had increased the voltage to (a probably too high level of) 1.100 V. I was in a hurry....
FurMark is an OpenGL benchmark that heavily stresses and overheats the graphics card with fur rendering. The benchmark offers several options allowing the user to tweak the rendering: fullscreen / windowed mode, MSAA selection, window size, duration. The benchmark also includes a GPU Burner mode (stability test). FurMark requires an OpenGL 2.0 compliant graphics card with lot of GPU power!
FurMark does do two things extremely well: drive the thermal output of any graphics processor higher than any other application or video game, and it does so with consistency every time. While FurMark is not a true benchmark tool for comparing different video cards, it still works well to compare one product against itself using different drivers or clock speeds, or testing the stability of a GPU, as it raises the temperatures higher than any program. But in the end, it's a rather limited tool.
In our next section, we discuss electrical power consumption and learn how well (or poorly) each video card will impact your utility bill...