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High-End Gaming PC 1

Next goes a top-end and expensive gaming system based on Intel’s newest processor Core i7.

  • Processor: Intel Core i7-920 (2.66GHz)
  • Mainboard: Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD3R (iX58 chipset)
  • System memory: 3x1GB Samsung (PC3-10666, 1333MHz, CL9)
  • Hard disk drive: 1000GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 ST31000333AS
  • Graphics card: PCI-E 896MB Leadtek WinFast GTX 260 Extreme+ W02G0686
  • Optical drive: DVD±RW Optiarc AD-7201S
  • System case: IN-WIN IW-J614TA F430 (550W)

If you ask at a hardware forum about the power consumption requirements of this configuration, you will most likely be advised to get a 750W power supply at the very least. Will the 500W PSU cope? Let’s see.

I installed Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (32-bit) and necessary drivers on the PC.

We don’t see anything special here. As you could guess, the Core i7 and GeForce GTX 260 have power-saving technologies, too.

Whatever CPU you may get, a fast graphics card will easily beat it in terms of power consumption as we can see here. The power consumption of both the CPU and the graphics card varies wildly under 3DMark06, by a few amperes.

The graphics card’s power consumption under FurMark is changing with a period of 6 or 7 seconds. I cannot explain this effect. It must be this benchmark’s peculiarity. The CPU is under a constant but not heavy load, its power consumption being not higher than 3A (36W) throughout the test.

Prime95 is quite a different story. The graphics card does nothing while the CPU’s power draw jumps from 20W in idle mode to 120W under load! Intel should be given credit for such efficient power management in its CPUs. And I also hope that the upcoming 32nm models will be more energy-efficient under load than today’s 45nm ones.

When Prime95 and FurMark are both launched, the CPU is overloaded (Prime95 is running in as many as 8 threads: four physical CPU cores plus four virtual cores provided by Hyper-Threading technology) and cannot feed data to the graphics card quickly enough. As a result, the graphics card renders one frame and stands idle for a while, its power consumption dropping down.

Here, the “wall outlet” method of power consumption measurements would yield an average much different from the maximum you can see in the diagram above. Of course, the number of Pirme95 threads can be selected in such a way as to ensure optimal work of FurMark and the graphics card, yet it is handier and more reliable to use well-designed measurement tools that yield maximum, minimum and average values together – all in a pretty full-color diagram (you can select the colors of the graphs to your taste!).

The power draw of such a top-performance system is very modest, though. The maximum is only 371W. A 550W power supply will cover its appetite with ease.

As opposed to the previous systems, the consumption of the standby source is nearly zero when the PC is turned on, but it grows up to 0.7A when data is stored in the system memory (in S3 or Suspend-to-RAM mode).

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