Articles: Graphics

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Power Consumption, Temperature, Noise and Overclocking

As we've found out already, the high GPU frequency of the ASUS ENGTS450 DirectCU TOP is largely due to its increased GPU voltage. Therefore, we are very interested to learn how much power the pre-overclocked card needs. We measured this on our specially configured testbed.

  • Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 CPU (3GHz, 1333 MHz FSB x 9, LGA775)
  • DFI LANParty UT ICFX3200-T2R/G mainboard (ATI CrossFire Xpress 3200 chipset)
  • PC2-1066 SDRAM (2x2 GB, 1066MHz)
  • Enermax Liberty ELT620AWT PSU (620W)
  • Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 7 64-bit
  • CyberLink PowerDVD 9 Ultra/"Serenity" BD (1080p VC-1, 20 Mbit)
  • Crysis Warhead
  • OCCT Perestroika 3.1.0

The new testbed for measuring electric characteristics of graphics cards uses a card designed by one of our engineers, Oleg Artamonov, and described in his article called PC Power Consumption: How Many Watts Do We Need?. As usual, we used the following benchmarks to load the graphics accelerators:

  • CyberLink PowerDVD 9: FullScreen, hardware acceleration enabled
  • Crysis Warhead: 1600x1200, FSAA 4x, DirectX 10/Enthusiast, "frost" map
  • OCCT Perestroika GPU: 1600x1200, FullScreen, Shader Complexity 8

Except for the maximum load simulation with OCCT, we measured power consumption in each mode for 60 seconds. We limit the run time of OCCT: GPU to 10 seconds to avoid overloading the graphics card's power circuitry. Here are the obtained results:

Interestingly, the ASUS ENGTS450 TOP has the lowest power consumption in idle mode. Its result of 7.5 watts is only half as high as that of the Radeon HD 5770. The factory volt-modding shows up in 3D mode, though, where the ASUS card's power consumption grows up to 115 watts. This is comparable to the higher-performance Radeon HD 5850 which needs 122 watts. Thus, this GeForce GTS 450 model cannot be counted among the most economical ones, but that's the tradeoff for the TOP suffix in its product name.

The increased GPU voltage couldn’t but affect the card’s heat dissipation. The ASUS ENGTS450 TOP is hotter than some GeForce GTX 460 models which deliver much higher performance. And being incomparably faster in 3D applications, the ATI Radeon HD 5870 is a mere 1°C hotter! On the other hand, the GPU temperature of 74°C is quite a low result for today, so you shouldn’t worry about overheat unless the ENGTS450’s cooler is blocked by a neighboring add-on card.

There is a problem with the card’s noisiness. While its senior cousin ENGTX460 TOP used to stand out among other system components with its louder but constant noise, the ENGTS450 is set up in such a way that its fan is constantly changing its speed under load. As a result, the variations in sound are distracting and more irritating than a constant noise would be.

Our ENGTS450 DirectCU TOP refused to overclock any further because it is already pre-overclocked to 925 MHz with increased voltage. Therefore we will only benchmark it at its factory frequencies. To perform our tests in SLI mode with another GeForce GTS 450 we dropped the ASUS card's frequencies to those of the reference card.

The GeForce driver identified the two cards easily and enabled SLI mode without any problems, so we could proceed to our tests.

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