The noise level of each cooler was measured between 1:00 and 3:00 AM in a closed room about 20 m2 big using CENTER-321 electronic noise meter. The noise level for each cooler was tested outside the system case when the only noise sources in the lab were the cooler and its fan. The noise meter was installed on a tripod and was always at a 150 mm distance from the cooler fan rotor. The tested cooling systems were placed at the edge of the desk on a sheet of polyurethane foam. The lowest noise reading our noise meter device can register is 29.8 dBA and the subjectively comfortable noise level in these testing conditions was around 36 dBA (do not mix it up with low noise level). The fan(s) rotation speed was adjusted in the entire supported range using our precise in-house controller by changing the voltage with 0.5 V increment.
We will compare the noise level of the Palit GeForce GTX 770 JetStream and Zotac GeForce GTX 770 AMP! Edition with that of the reference GeForce GTX 770 from Nvidia. The top speed of the fans they reach when regulated automatically is indicated with vertical dotted lines.
First of all, none of these cards can be called really quiet. Each of them is not just audible against the background noise of our rather quiet computer but downright loud. The Palit GeForce GTX 770 JetStream is the noisiest of the three, surpassing the reference cooler from Nvidia and being barely comfortable in 2D applications. The Zotac GeForce GTX 770 AMP! Edition is indeed quieter than the reference sample but not by much. At speeds above 2200 RPM the Zotac is noisier than the Nvidia. It is, however, the quietest of the three cards in 2D applications, which is important even for gamers.
We measured the power consumption of our testbed equipped with different graphics cards using a multifunctional Zalman ZM-MFC3 panel which can report how much power a computer (without the monitor) draws from a wall outlet. There were two test modes: 2D (editing documents in Microsoft Word or web surfing) and 3D. In the latter case the load was created by four runs of the introductory “Swamp” scene in Crysis 3 game at 2560x1440 with maximum image quality settings, but without MSAA.
Besides the cards from Zotac and Palit and the reference Nvidia GeForce GTX 770, we’ve included into this test a configuration with an overclocked dual-processor Nvidia GeForce GTX 690 (we’ll explain the reasons for its overclocking shortly). Here are the results:
There is only a 26-watt difference between the configurations with the reference Nvidia GeForce GTX 770 and the pre-overclocked Zotac. On the other hand, the Zotac needs 5 watts more than the reference GTX 770 when the latter is overclocked to higher frequencies. This must be the consequence of the customized PCB or a higher power draw of the cooler’s fans. The configuration with two GTX 770s (the Palit plus the Zotac working at the same clock rates) needs 204 watts more than the configuration with only one such card and 73 watts more than the configuration with a dual-processor GeForce GTX 690. Now let’s see which one delivers higher performance.