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Noise Level, Temperature, Power Consumption

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.

The vertical dotted lines mark the peak speed of the cooler’s fan(s) in the automatic regulation mode. Here are the results:

The noise level graph of the Sapphire card goes lower than the others, but the dotted lines indicate that the Sapphire and the MSI are the noisiest cards in the automatic fan regulation mode. It is indeed so subjectively. The ASUS HD 7790 DirectCU II is, on the contrary, the quietest card here, followed by the HIS. The Gigabyte with WindForce cooler takes an in-between position. We should note, however, that none of these five graphics card is really quiet in 3D applications.

The following diagram shows the noise level of the cards in the automatic fan regulation mode and at the maximum speed of the fan(s) and also shows the peak GPU temperature. The graphics cards are sorted in the order of ascending GPU temperature:

The MSI has the lowest GPU temperature in both fan regulation modes, but it is not a leader in terms of quietness. It is followed by the Gigabyte and the ASUS, the latter being the leader in terms of noise level. The Sapphire and the HIS have the least efficient coolers, yet they also manage to keep the factory-overclocked GPUs colder than 70°C.

The temperature of the cards doesn’t change much when they are overclocked (in the automatic fan regulation mode):

The Gigabyte is ahead now, replacing the MSI. They are followed by the ASUS whereas the Sapphire and the HIS take last places.

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.

In our power consumption test we will check out Radeon HD 7790s that have different amounts of memory, a configuration with a CrossFireX tandem built out of two Radeon HD 7790s, and two Nvidia-based cards:

As you can see, the different Radeon HD 7790 variants don't differ much in their power draw, so the amount of onboard memory doesn't affect power consumption much. The two Radeon HD 7790s in CrossFireX mode need 94 watts more, being comparable to the single GeForce GTX 760 in this parameter. The configuration with one GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost needs 50 watts more at peak load than the configuration with one Radeon HD 7790 2GB.

 
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