Articles: Graphics

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Testing Methodology

As we have already told you in the previous part of our today’s article, we are currently using a separate test bed for graphics cards power consumption tests and study of graphics card electrical features and characteristics. This testbed has the following hardware and software configuration:

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

The heart of our testbed is a special measuring board built around Allegro ACS713-30T current diodes and 8-bit Atmel ATmega168 microcontroller:

We have already described its features and design in our article called PC Power Consumption: How Many Watts Do We Need?. Using special software developed specifically for this platform we currently measure all electrical parameters of the tested graphics cards. With this complex testing equipment we can simplify and even automate to some extent the power consumption measuring process. At the time of our today’s tests we used the following available versions of ATI and Nvidia drivers:

  • ATI Catalyst 10.2 for ATI Radeon HD cards
  • Nvidia GeForce 196.21 WHQL for Nvidia GeForce cards

As usual, we used the following benchmarks to load the tested graphics accelerators in different modes:

  • 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

We measured the power consumption for 60 seconds in each mode except maximum load simulation in OCCT. To avoid graphics card failure caused by overclocking of electrical circuits during OCCT: GPU test we limited the measuring interval with 10 seconds.

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