Power Consumption: NVIDIA vs. ATI
Now let’s compare the two graphics camps. For better readability, I don’t put down the results I got when overclocking the cards:
Graphics cards on ATI’s GPUs generally require less power than their counterparts from NVIDIA’s line-up. However, I don’t think this difference is so great as to be of more importance at shopping than cost or speed factors. The only problem with graphics cards on new NVIDIA GPUs is their high load on the +12v power rail, which may be too much for your PSU.
On the other hand, top-end expensive graphics cards like NVIDIA GeForce 6800/GT/Ultra or ATI RADEON X800 XT/Pro are usually bought for a ragingly-fast gaming station where they won’t be the only power consumer. For example, modern top-end processors, even non-overclocked, have the same power consumption as those graphics cards or even higher. So, it is probable that your other system components will demand a new PSU earlier than the graphics card does.
Overclocking produces a small power consumption growth with graphics cards with any GPUs. The frequency growth is higher. Thus, overclocking seems to be a safe occupation as concerns the power consumption of the graphics card. If your PSU works with a non-overclocked graphics card without any problems, you can be almost sure that it won’t start experiencing any with that graphics card overclocked.
In the near future, there will be products on new graphics processors developed for mainstream graphics cards. Today, only the “power-hungry” cards on previous-generation chips fall into this category. The advent of NVIDIA’s NV43 (GeForce 6600 and 6600 GT) and ATI’s RV410 (the marketing name is not revealed yet) is going to change the situation with power consumption of mainstream graphics cards. The new chips are manufactured with new tech processes and have every chance to be more economical and “cold”.