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Noise and Power Consumption

We measured the level of noise produced by the MSI NX8800GTS’s cooler with a digital sound-level meter Velleman DVM1326 (0.1dB resolution) using A-curve weighing. At the time of our tests the level of ambient noise in our lab was 36dBA and the level of noise at a distance of 1 meter from a working testbed with a passively cooled graphics card inside was 40dBA.

The cooling system of the NX8800GTS (like that of any other GeForce 8800 GTS) is just as noisy as the cooler of the GeForce 8800 GTX. It is actually very quiet in any mode and even surpasses the excellent GeForce 7900 GTX cooler that used to be considered the best in its class. Achieving a total silence at the same cooling efficiency would require installing a water cooling system, especially if you are into overclocking,

Reference samples of the GeForce 8800 GTX refused to run on our testbed for measuring power consumption, but newer cards from the GeForce 8800 series, and the MSI NX8800GTS-T2D640E-HD-OC too, work correctly in this system, which has the following configuration:

  • Intel Pentium 4 560 CPU (3.60GHz, 1MB L2);
  • Intel Desktop Board D925XCV mainboard (i925X);
  • PC-4300 DDR2 SDRAM memory (2x512MB);
  • Samsung SpinPoint SP1213C HDD (120GB, Serial ATA-150, 8MB buffer);
  • Microsoft Windows XP Pro SP2, DirectX 9.0c.

The mainboard in this testbed was specially modified: we connected measurement shunts into the power lines of the PCI Express x16 slot and equipped them with connectors to attach measuring instruments. We also added such a shunt to a 2xMolex → PCI Express adapter. The measurements were performed with a Velleman DVM850BL multimeter (0.5% accuracy).

We loaded the GPU by launching the first SM3.0/HDR graphics test from 3DMark06 and running it in a loop at 1600x1200 resolution and with enabled 16x anisotropic filtering. The Peak 2D load was created by means of the 2D Transparent Windows test from Futuremark’s PCMark05 benchmarking suite. The results follow below:

Thus we’ve got power consumption data on the MSI NX8800GTS-T2D640E-HD-OC as well as on the whole Nvidia GeForce 8800 family.

Power Consumption Details (Click to enlarge)

The GeForce 8800 GTX indeed surpasses the previous “leader” Radeon X1950 XTX, but only by 7 watts. A power draw of 131.5W in 3D mode is a good result considering the complexity of the G80 chip. The two additional power connectors of the GeForce 8800 GTX take in about the same amount of power, not higher than 45W even in the hardest operation mode. Although the PCB design of the GeForce 8800 GTX provides for the installation of one 8-pin power connector instead of a 6-pin one, this will hardly be necessary even if the GPU and memory frequencies are increased greatly. Nvidia’s new flagship is not very economical in Idle mode, but this is expectable for a 681-million-transistor chip with a huge frequency of shader processors. This high level of power consumption also comes from the fact that GeForce 8800 series cards do not reduce their frequencies when idle.

Both versions of GeForce 8800 GTS consume less power, but cannot match the results of Nvidia’s G71-based graphics cards. The single power connector of these devices bears a high load of 70W and more. The 640MB and 320MB versions of GeForce 8800 GTS do not differ much between each other in terms of power consumption because the amount of memory is the single difference between them. MSI’s pre-overclocked product has a higher power draw than the reference GeForce 8800 GTS – about 116W under load in 3D mode, which is anyway lower than the corresponding result of the Radeon X1950 XTX. The AMD card is much more economical in 2D mode, but graphics cards of this class are bought for playing 3D games and their consumption in 2D is not a critical factor.

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