We measured the power consumption of computer systems with different graphics cards using a multifunctional panel Zalman ZM-MFC3 which can report how much power a computer (the monitor not included) draws from a wall socket. There were two test modes: 2D (editing documents in Microsoft Word and web surfing) and 3D (the benchmark from Metro 2033: The Last Refuge at 2560x1600 with maximum settings).
We’ve included several graphics cards and GPU configurations into the table for the sake of comparison:
As expected, the system with two GeForce GTX 680s in SLI mode needs more power than the system with a single GeForce GTX 690 but is more economical than the configuration with two Radeon HD 7970s in CrossFireX mode. These are premium-class solutions, so they all need a high-wattage PSU with stable output voltages.
First of all, we’d like to say a few words about the Palit GeForce GTX 680 Jetstream 2GB. It is an interesting graphics card that can deliver the highest performance you can currently get with a single-GPU product. It is going to be stable thanks to its reinforced power system with high-quality components, so we even managed to overclock it a little above its already pre-overclocked frequencies.
The card features a highly efficient cooler. However, it is not much quieter than the reference GeForce GTX 680 cooler and even turned out to be louder in 2D mode. So, the card’s BIOS needs to be updated with optimal fan settings and, perhaps, the fans themselves should be replaced with quieter ones. The packaging of the product is robust and informative but its accessories are scanty. The 1-year warranty isn’t attractive compared to competitor products, either. Still, the Palit GeForce GTX 680 Jetstream is going to be a good choice, even as it already is, if you don’t mind the noise.
As for the SLI configuration we built out of two GeForce GTX 680s, it was only a little bit faster than the GeForce GTX 690. The difference can hardly be felt during actual play but the GTX 690 costs less, doesn't require two full-speed PCI Express x16 slots, often delivers a higher bottom frame rate, consumes less power and is just quieter than the two GTX 680s. So, if you need the performance of two GeForce GTX 680s, we’d recommend you to consider buying a single GeForce GTX 690 instead.
We can also note that the SLI technology can boost the speed of the GeForce GTX 680 twofold in resource-consuming and SLI-optimized applications. And comparing the two multi-GPU technologies, the GeForce GTX 680 SLI was a little faster than the CrossFireX tandem of two slightly overclocked Radeon HD 7970s.