Articles: Graphics

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About half a year ago we last performed a comparative test of power consumption of graphics cards (for details see our article called The Grand Clash for Watts: Power Consumption of Modern Graphics Cards). A lot of new exciting products that set new performance records have been released since then. We now pay more attention to the noise characteristics of graphics cards because their ever-growing power consumption calls for more and more complex cooling systems with faster and louder fans.

Fortunately, cooling technologies have also been developing theoretically as well as practically, so we do hope that despite the growing appetites ordinary PCs won’t reach the noise level of a vacuum cleaner or a hair-drier.

For example, a few years ago they used to make thick-ribbed and large heatsinks from ordinary anodized aluminum and capped them with high-speed fans to improve cooling efficiency. Today, passive coolers with thin ribs, copper bases, heat pipes and combinations of the mentioned technologies are getting widespread. And so, the increasing power consumption of graphics processors shouldn’t make computers much noisier.

The downside of this growing complexity of cooling systems is that the manufacturers sometimes try to reduce the cost of a product by installing something simpler and cheaper on it. As a result, a graphics card with low power consumption may prove to be rather noisy at work.

In this article we will examine the power consumption of present-day graphics cards and will also check how noisy they are.

Cards We Play With

So, power consumption is indeed an important factor, but not the decisive one. Besides pure performance and desired architectural features, one has to pay attention to a whole lot of other physical factors like those we mentioned in our previous article on this topic. Here they are:

  • Noise level
  • Control over the cooler’s fan
  • Interfaces supported (dual-link DVI, composite, etc)
  • Power consumption in idle mode
  • Power consumption in Peak 2D and Low-power 3D modes
  • Power consumption in 3D mode
  • Peak power consumption
  • Dimensions (length, width and height of the cooling system)
  • Weight
  • Additional power connectors

In this review we focus mostly on power consumption in various operating modes and on the level of noise, but we will keep this list in our mind and stress any good or bad points of a particular product according to it.

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