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Power Consumption

Following the usual testing procedure we apply to each graphics card that enters our labs, we measured the power consumption of the Radeon X1900 GT on a modified testbed configured as follows:

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

The measurements were performed with a digital multimeter Velleman DVM850BL (0.5% measurement accuracy). We loaded the GPU by launching the first SM3.0 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:

The Radeon X1900 GT’s using an R580 graphics processor, which was originally designed for top-end graphics cards, tells on its power consumption characteristics. The new card has a healthy appetite, as you can see. Its power draw is only lower than that of the GeForce 7900 GTX, a graphics card from a higher class. The GeForce 7900 GT, the direct market rival to the Radeon X1900 GT, consumes only two thirds of the amount.

Like all other members of the family, the Radeon X1900 GT puts a bigger load on the external +12V line than on the internal one, although the misbalance isn’t as big as with the Radeon X1900 XT and XTX. In 3D mode the external line provides 38 watts of power whereas the PCI Express slot yields 32 watts more. The remaining 5 watts come to the card via the +3.3V line (this is characteristic of ATI’s solutions, too; the GeForce 7900 GT consumes nearly nothing from this line, for example).

So, the Radeon X1900 GT has nothing to boast about when it comes to power consumption. In order to see better results in this test we have to wait for ATI’s upcoming solutions on the economical RV570 chip that are expected to deliver the same performance but have much better power-related characteristics.

Overclocking

Next we also tried to overclock our sample of the PowerColor X1900 GT. We were not very successful, to tell you the truth, but that might have been expected considering the modest capabilities of the cooler the card is equipped with and the high power consumption level of the GPU. However, we did manage to increase the GPU frequency to 620MHz and memory frequency to 700 (1400) MHz by only adding a 120mm fan to the card’s standard cooler – the additional fan was blowing air along the card’s PCB. The card was stable at the said frequencies, but a hang-up and a BSOD occurred when we tried to set the GPU clock rate at 625MHz. The same thing happened when we attempted to lift the memory frequency higher up to 720 (1440) MHz.

Yes, our overclocking attempts were seriously restrained by the cooler which was a little too week for a card that generates so much heat. Anyway, we think the GPU and memory frequency gain we achieved is going to positively affect the performance of the PowerColor X1900 GT. Enthusiasts who are into serious overclocking may achieve better results than ours but this would call for more effective cooling methods and perhaps GPU/memory volt-modding.

 
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