Power consumption of current graphics cards

Grafikkarten | 29.01.2009, 17:00 | Seite 7
Bild: Power consumption of current graphics cards Bild: Power consumption of current graphics cards

Power Consumption: Picking the right load


A central topic of this article is the question what the right software is to put the maximum load on the graphics card. In the past the dice from the ATI-Tool was often used for temperature and stability tests, but even more often 3DMark is used for this propose. But in the last few month a tool called FurMark became very much a point of discussion for these criteria.

We have to say that we also used 3DMark06 for measuring system-power-consumption in the past. Just for the reason, that we can compare our new values to those from our old reviews. But the synthetic benchmark isn´t the reference in terms of maximum load any more. Even games like CoD4, Bioshock or Company of Heroes can produce a higher load than 3DMark06. We´ve seen this circumstances already for a while when we measured system-power-consumption while running our benchmark-series. Here some numbers representing the whole system power to compare power consumption during our benchmark-series (CoD4, CoH, ETQW, etc.) with power consumption in 3DMark06.

System power consumption 3DMark 2006 HT4U-Benchmark-Series
ASUS GTX280 306 Watt 349 Watt
Gigabyte GTX 260 244 Watt 261 Watt
Palit Radeon HD4870 268 Watt 289 Watt
Gigabyte 9600GT (passiv) 196 Watt 234 Watt
MSI 9800GTX 255 Watt 294 Watt


Manufacturers like AMD and NVIDIA currently don´t like FurMark, but we will focus on this later. FurMark is a synthetic application which primarily tries to put a maximum load to the graphics card. But FurMark is a benchmark, too! So what´s the difference between FurMark and the on all sides favored 3DMark06? In our eyes there is no difference, except the fact that 3DMark looks better ;).

So let´s have a look at different load-scenarios in form of exact measurement and not system power anymore. This time with FurMark – the bad boy on the block.

Last-Vergleich
Radeon HD 4870
GeForce GTX 285
Furmark
187,2
214,1
3DMark Vantage – New Calico
127,5
174,4
3DMark06 – Canyon Flight
121,9
166,7
ATITool
108,7
148,3
Watt


Most notably the faster graphics cards show dramatic differences. The OpenGL-renderer Furmark creates a much higher load than any other tool we tested. Even if you have a look at the whole system power you can see the differences. For example with the Radeon HD 4870 X2 the PC consumes up to 410 Watt using 3DMark06 and up to 550 Watt in FurMark.

FurMark creates a constant load, that you´ll see in games at best in form of short peaks. Thus FurMark and our results can be treated as a worst-case-scenario. A worst case scenario which not every manufacturer seems to expect ...