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Noise Level, Temperature and Power Consumption

The noise level of each cooler was measured between 1:00 and 3:00 AM in a closed room about 20 m2 big using CENTER-321 electronic noise meter. The noise level for each cooler was tested outside the system case when the only noise sources in the lab were the cooler and its fan. The noise meter was installed on a tripod and was always at a 150 mm distance from the cooler fan rotor. The tested cooling systems were placed at the edge of the desk on a sheet of polyurethane foam. The lowest noise reading our noise meter device can register is 29.8 dBA and the subjectively comfortable noise level in these testing conditions was around 36 dBA (do not mix it up with low noise level). The fan(s) rotation speed was adjusted in the entire supported range using our precise in-house controller by changing the voltage with 0.5 V increment.

The vertical dotted lines show the peak speed of the coolers’ fans in the automatic regulation mode. Let’s take a look at the results:

We’ve got a clear winner in terms of noise level – the GeForce GTX 760 OC Gaming from MSI. It is the closest to the comfortable level and, subjectively, silent inside a computer case. The remaining three cards from Palit, Zotac and Nvidia are comparable in terms of noisiness in the automatic fan regulation mode and are all rather loud in 3D mode.

The following diagram shows the noise level of the cards in the automatic fan regulation mode and at the maximum speed of the fan and also shows the peak GPU temperature. The GPU clock rates during the test are indicated in the product names. The graphics cards are sorted in the order of ascending GPU temperature:

The MSI GeForce GTX 760 OC Gaming wins both test modes again. It is followed by the Palit, which in its turn is much better in temperature and noisiness than the cards from Zotac and Nvidia. We can also note that the graphics cards are comparable in terms of noise level at the maximum speed of the fans but the temperatures differ a lot. Somewhat unexpectedly, the Zotac is inferior to the reference card from Nvidia. On the other hand, the Zotac has the highest clock rates by default.

The standings do not change when the cards are overclocked (in the automatic fan regulation mode):

Being inferior to the MSI in noisiness, the Palit is very close to it in temperature. The Zotac shouldn't be overclocked at all considering the high temperature.

We measured the power consumption of our testbed equipped with different graphics cards using a multifunctional Zalman ZM-MFC3 panel which can report how much power a computer (without the monitor) draws from a wall outlet. There were two test modes: 2D (editing documents in Microsoft Word or web surfing) and 3D. In the latter case the load was created by four runs of the introductory “Swamp” scene in Crysis 3 game at 2560x1440 with maximum image quality settings, but without MSAA.

Besides configurations with three original GeForce GTX 760s, we also measured the power consumption of a 2-way SLI tandem and an MSI GeForce GTX 780 OC Gaming card (we’ll use the latter in our performance tests).

The configurations with original GeForce GTX 760s differ but little in terms of power consumption, yet we can note that the MSI one is the most economical, also in 2D mode. Next goes the Palit GeForce GTX 760 JetStream and the Nvidia GeForce GTX 760. The high clock rates of the Zotac card increase the power draw by 15 watts, which isn’t much. The 2-way SLI tandem built out of two GeForce GTX 760s needs 150 watts more. The number is close to the specified power consumption of the reference GeForce GTX 760, but even in this case a 650-700W PSU is going to be enough.

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