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Power Consumption and Temperature

The Zotac GeForce GTX 280 AMP! works at increased frequencies, so it is interesting to see how higher its power consumption is in comparison with the reference card. We measured this on a special testbed configured like follows:

  • AMD Athlon 64 FX-55 CPU (2.6GHz)
  • EPoX EP9-NPA+ SLI mainboard (Nvidia nForce4 SLI)
  • PC3200 SDRAM (2x512MB, 200MHz)
  • Western Digital Raptor WD360ADFD HDD (36GB, SATA-150, 16MB buffer)
  • Chieftec ATX-410-212 PSU (410W)
  • Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit
  • Futuremark PCMark05 Build 1.2.0
  • Futuremark 3DMark06 Build 1.1.0

The 3D load was created by means of the first SM3.0/HDR test from 3DMark06 running in a loop at 1600x1200 with 4x FSAA and 16x AF. The Peak 2D mode was emulated by means of the 2D Transparent Windows test from PCMark05. This test is important as Windows Vista’s Aero interface uses 3D features. Here are the results:

Click to enlarge

As expected, the power consumption is the same in the 2D and Peak 2D modes because every GeForce GTX 200 drops its GPU and memory frequencies to 100MHz in 2D mode. In the 3D mode the Zotac card consumes 15W more than the reference sample. Well, even this result is modest in comparison with the Radeon HD 4870 X2.

We measured the amount of noise produced by the Zotac with a Velleman DVM1326 noise-level meter and found it to be just as noisy as the reference card.

Unfortunately, our experience with the Zotac GeForce GTX 280 AMP! suggests that this card is prone to overheat, at least in hot weather. The GPU temperature reached a critical 105°C after two hours of our tests, triggering the protection system which reduced the GPU clock rates automatically. This resulted in a momentary pause, and then the game would go on normally or exit into the OS. Perhaps it is a problem of our particular sample, but you still must be aware that pre-overclocked versions of GeForce GTX 280 are subject to overheat. You must make sure you system case is ventilated well and is not too cramped. You may also need to adjust the speed of the card’s fan, for example with RivaTuner. This would increase the noise, especially in 3D mode, but modern top-end graphics cards with their extremely high power dissipation leave no other choice.

Now let’s see if the Zotac card can be competitive against the Radeon HD 4870 X2.

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