Articles: Graphics

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Testbed and Methods

To find our how power hungry the modern graphics cards are, we used the same testing methodology as we do in our graphics cards reviews that include power consumption of graphics cards.

We utilize a special modified mainboard that has special shunts attached to PCI Express x16 power lanes as well as we attach the shunt into additional 12V power connectors that some of the graphics cards have. This way of measuring power consumptions of graphics boards was first introduced back in 2004 and has proven to be accurate since then.

Here is the configuration of the testbed we use, even though you should keep in mind that the actual hardware configuration is not really important for this particular testing.

  • Intel Pentium 4 560 CPU (3.60GHz, 1MB L2 cache)
  • Intel Desktop Board D925XCV (modified)
  • 2 x 512MB PC4300 DDR2 SDRAM
  • Samsung SpinPoint SP1213C hard disk drive (Serial ATA-150, 8MB buffer)
  • Microsoft Windows XP Pro SP2, DirectX 9.0c
  • ATI Catalyst 6.1, Nvidia ForceWare 81.98
  • Unless specifically noted, all graphics cards are reference designs from ATI Technologies or Nvidia Corp.

We measured the power consumption of the card with a digital multimeter Velleman DVM850BL (0.5% measurement accuracy).

To put a Peak 3D load on the card we ran the first SM 3.0 graphics test from 3DMark06 in a loop at 1600x1200 resolution and with enabled 4x FSAA and 16 anisotropic filtering (for graphics cards that did not support multi-sampling antialiasing with HDR, we did not enable it, for those who did not support Shader Model 3.0, the third game test from the 3DMark05 was used). Then we created an extremely high 2D load by launching the 2D Transparent Windows test from Futuremark PCMark05. Idle mode is power consumption of graphics card displaying Windows XP desktop. 
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