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Noise, Overclockability and Power Consumption

We measured the level of noise produced by the Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT card with a digital sound-level meter Velleman DVM1326 using A-curve weighing. The level of ambient noise in our lab was 36dBA and the level of noise at a distance of 1 meter from the working testbed with a passively cooled graphics card inside was 43dBA. We got the following results:

Gainward’s cooler proves to be absolutely silent in comparison with the reference cooler from Nvidia, at least within a standard gaming system. You can only hear it in a system with a quiet PSU (perhaps with passive cooling), an acoustic insulation of HDDs, and low-speed system fans. The fan speed never changes. According to RivaTuner, it is fixed at 29% for every operation mode. However, we cannot call the cooler ideal due to the above-described problem with thermal contact. That may be a problem of our particular sample of the card, though.

Our attempt to overclock the GPU of the Gainward Bliss 8800 GT 512MB GS GLH by 20MHz was unsuccessful. The card would not be stable. The memory refused to overclock at all, being already clocked at a higher frequency than the rated one. We didn’t try to overclock the card with additional cooling.

The Bliss 8800 GT 512MB GS GLH is free from the compatibility problems typical of GeForce 8800 GT with the reference PCB design and worked normally on every mainboard we had. We measured its power consumption using a special testbed with a modified Intel Desktop Board D925XCV.

We performed our measurements at the card’s default frequencies and with the frequencies reduced to those of the reference card. In 3D mode the cards were loaded by the first SM3.0/HDR test from the 3DMark06 suite running in a loop at 1600x1200 with 4x FSAA and 16x AF. The Peak 2D mode was emulated by means of the 2D Transparent Windows test from PCMark05.

Click to enlarge

The Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT 512MB resembles the GeForce 8800 GTX with its power consumption: the external +12V line has a higher load than the internal line (in the PCI Express slot). The +3.3V line has almost no load at all as opposed to the G80-based cards. The card consumes less than 1W of power from it in every mode, but this may be a peculiarity of the non-standard power circuit developed by Gainward.

Note how economic the GeForce 8800 GT is in 2D mode. When the GPU and memory frequencies are increased, the power consumption of the GeForce 8800 GT doesn’t grow up much: the consumption is 7.4W higher at the frequencies of the Gainward card than at the frequencies of the reference card in 3D mode. The difference is no bigger than 1.2-1.6W in 2D mode.

So, the Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT 512MB is quite an economical graphics card with a power consumption of 78W in 3D applications. This is far below the power draw of Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTX/GTS, let alone ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT/Pro. The GeForce 8800 GT 512MB is even more economical than the previous-generation flagship GeForce 7900 GTX. It is now clear why Nvidia decided to develop a single-slot cooler for the new card, yet the power draw of 80W seems too high for such risky experiments. There are rumors that new batches of GeForce 8800 GT will be equipped with an improved cooler with a larger fan.

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