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Power Consumption, Overclocking, Temperature

We had already published the results of our measurements of the power draw of the Radeon HD 4870 X2, but this time we tried to overclock the HIS card and measured its power draw at the overclocked frequencies on the following testbed:

  • AMD Athlon 64 FX-55 CPU (2.6GHz)
  • EPoX EP9-NPA+ SLI mainboard (Nvidia nForce4 SLI)
  • PC3200 SDRAM (2x512MB, 200MHz)
  • Western Digital Raptor WD360ADFD HDD (36GB, SATA-150, 16MB buffer)
  • Chieftec ATX-410-212 PSU (410W)
  • Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit
  • Futuremark PCMark05 Build 1.2.0
  • Futuremark 3DMark06 Build 1.1.0

The 3D load was created by means of the first SM3.0/HDR test from 3DMark06 running in a loop at 1600x1200 with 4x FSAA and 16x AF. The Peak 2D mode was emulated by means of the 2D Transparent Windows test from PCMark05. This test is important as it simulates the user’s working with application windows whereas Windows Vista’s Aero interface uses 3D features.

Unfortunately, the overclocking attempt was not much of a success. We could only increase the GPU frequency from the default 750MHz to 800MHz. The memory chips refused to overclock at all: the system would hang up or show visual artifacts when we tried to increase the card’s memory frequency. So, the power consumption tests yielded the following results for the GPU frequency of 800MHz:

Click to enlarge

The HIS HD 4870 X2 consumes over 270 watts of power, which is a new record. As expected, the load grew up the most on the 8-pin power connector. The HIS card consumes 10.8 watts more than the reference sample, and it is clear now why overclocking a Radeon HD 4870 X2 is a daunting task. According to the Catalyst Control Center, the GPUs were as hot as 92-95°C under load. You must take care about proper ventilation of your system case if you want to install a Radeon HD 4870 X2, let alone overclock it. 

The level of noise is the same as that of the reference card (for deatils see our article called ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2 Graphics Accelerator: New Champion ). The card is noisy in 3D mode and the periodic changes of its noise level are rather irritating. That’s the price you have to pay for the tremendous performance of the Radeon HD 4870 X2. You have to put up with that or think about installing a liquid cooling system. And it must be an advanced system capable of dissipating over 250 watts of heat. Inexpensive models widely available on the market just won’t cope with this card.

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