|PowerColor PCS+ HD6950 Vortex II|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Sunday, 22 May 2011|
Page 14 of 17
VGA Power Consumption
Your video card under load can easily consume more power than the rest of your system put together (depending of course on your CPU and how hard it's working). While even the Mighty Intel Core i7 980X pulls a maximum of 130 watts, a mid-range card like the PowerColor PCS+ Radeon HD6950 Vortex II Edition can easily use more than that, which is why AMD recommends a minimum of a 500 watt power supply when using just one of these cards. The days when you could build an enthusiast system with a 350 watt power supply are long gone.
But your computer probably spends a lot of time at less than maximum loads, and manufacturers are getting better at creating CPUs and GPUs that can dramatically reduce their power consumption at low loads or idle. Granted, giant dual-GPU cards like the Radeon 6990 can slurp up hundreds of watts of power, but make up about as large a percentage of the video card market as Hummer H1s do of the automotive market.
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.
The Z68 test system idled at 51 watts with no video card installed. The PowerColor PCS+ Radeon HD6950 Vortex II Edition card pulled 26 watts at idle (77-51) and 184 watts under FurMark load (235-51) for a combined total of 210 watts. This slots in just under the NVIDIA GTX560Ti reference design, which posts lower idle power consumption but higher load power consumption. These are very good results for performance at this level.