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500W PSU: How Much Power Do You Need?

Again, NVIDIA recommends that the new graphics cards were used with 480W and higher PSUs. This may be an overstatement as the card itself consumes 150W and thereabouts, but it does require stable and reliable power, especially under peak loads. Then, other system components should get their deserved power supply, too.

Today, there are many inexpensive 400/450W PSUs from obscure manufacturers who don’t attentively see to the quality of their products, particularly to the stability of output voltages and currents. Installed into a system case with such a PSU, a GeForce 6800 Ultra graphics card may not get the sufficient supply currents. This may be the reason for NVIDIA to stress the necessity of a 480W PSU – such units will surely provide necessary currents on +5V and +12V buses for the GeForce 6800 Ultra and the rest of the system components.

If you’ve got a high-quality PSU, you may only run into trouble in two cases: during GPU overclocking and when your system is stuffed with too many power-hungry components.

Once we undertook a few extreme overclocking experiments with the GeForce FX 5950 Ultra when we increased the GPU and graphics memory voltages. NVIDIA advises to use 350W PSUs for such cards, but we found the device unstable at some moment. Then we took a high-quality 550W PSU, thus increasing the stability of the supply current, and managed to raise the clock rates even higher.

Probably, NV40-based graphics cards will behave like that, too. What’s curious, 400MHz is the lowest frequency for the GeForce 6800 chip according to unofficial information. Any overclocking experiments or the oncoming release of the faster chip modifications will cause inevitable increase in heat dissipation and power consumption, while the stability requirements will remain the same. I wonder if NVIDIA will still require a 480W PSU or will push the bar higher, to 550W or 600W supplies…

The need to install the NV40-based card into a system with a good PSU also results from the fact that other devices in this system will probably match the card – something like a Pentium 4 Extreme Edition or Prescott, a pair of hard disk drives, a couple of optical drives, a top-end sound card, a wireless networking adapter, a bunch of USB devices, various additional controllers and so on. With all this stuff onboard, you shouldn’t be surprised to see your computer being much fastidious about the PSU. Thus, NVIDIA’s recommendation to buy a 500W PSU seems reasonable enough for your ultra-fast gaming station to run smoothly.

This is the harsh reality: modern electronic chips eat more power and produce more heat. Top-end CPUs and GPUs of the new generation won’t certainly consume less power than today. The PC enthusiast must have a powerful and high-quality PSU.

 
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