ASUS Radeon HD 7870 DirectCU II 2 GB

ASUS Radeon HD 7870 DirectCU II 2 GB

Fan Noise »

Power Consumption

Cooling modern video cards is becoming more and more difficult, especially when users are asking for quiet cooling solutions. That's why the engineers are now paying much more attention to power consumption of new video card designs. An optimized fan profile is also one of the few things that board vendors can do to impress with reference designs where they are prohibited to make changes to the thermal solution or components on the card.

For this test we measure power consumption of only the graphics card, via PCI-Express power connector(s) and PCI-Express bus slot. A Keithley Integra 2700 with 6.5 digits is used for all measurements. Again, the values here reflect card only power consumption measured at DC VGA card inputs, not the whole system.

We chose Crysis 2 as a standard test representing typical 3D gaming usage because it offers: - very high power draw - high repeatability - is a current game that is supported on all cards due to its DirectX 9 nature - drivers are actively tested and optimized for it - supports all multi-GPU configurations - test runs a relatively short time and renders a non-static scene with variable complexity.

Our results are based on the following tests:
  • Idle: Windows 7 Aero sitting at the desktop (1280x1024 32-bit) all windows closed, drivers installed. Card left to warm up in idle until power draw is stable.
  • Multi-Monitor: Two monitors connected to the tested card, which use different display timings. Windows 7 Aero sitting at the desktop (1280x1024 32-bit) all windows closed, drivers installed. Card left to warm up in idle until power draw is stable.
  • Average: Crysis 2 at 1920x1200, Extreme profile, representing a typical gaming power draw. Average of all readings (12 per second) while the benchmark was rendering (no title/loading screen).
  • Peak: Crysis 2 at 1920x1200, Extreme profile, representing a typical gaming power draw. Highest single reading during the test.
  • Maximum: Furmark Stability Test at 1280x1024, 0xAA. This results in a very high non-game power consumption that can typically be reached only with stress testing applications. Card left running stress test until power draw converged to a stable value. On cards with power limiting systems we will disable the power limiting system or configure it to the highest available setting - if possible. We will also use the highest single reading from a Furmark run which is obtained by measuring faster than when the power limit can kick in.
  • Blu-ray Playback: Power DVD 9 Ultra is used at a resolution of 1920x1200 to play back the Batman: The Dark Knight disc with GPU acceleration turned on. Playback starts around timecode 1:19 which has the highest data rates on the BD with up to 40 Mb/s. Playback left running until power draw converged to a stable value.
In idle and multi-monitor, power consumption of the ASUS HD 7870 Direct CU II is similar to that of the reference design. During typical gaming loads we see about 20% more power consumed, which is a reasonable increase, given the higher clock speeds. What really surprised me though is the significantly increased power consumption in Furmark. Even though this is not a typical state reached during normal gaming, it is still weird to see almost 100 W of extra power consumed. The DC II uses the same PCB as the AMD reference design, so the difference should be much smaller. I retested Furmark power on both our AMD reference sample and the DC II, and the numbers are correct. At this point I have no explanation for what's going on. Maybe the high clock speed, temperature and load have such a large effect, it is still odd though.

The increased power consumption for media playback, is because the ASUS card tends to switch to full 3D clocks very often during BD playback.

A new feature of the HD 7000 Series is AMD ZeroCore Power, which will power off the card as soon as the monitor output is blanked, during screen saver for example. For additional power and noise reduction the fan will stop in this state, too. We measured a power consumption of 1.11 Watts for the whole graphics card during ZeroCore Power. As soon as you move the mouse the PC is back immediately, there is no lag or any delay.
Please note that ZeroCore Power seems to engage only when the screen is completely static. If you have an application running that draws to the screen, the monitor will go black, but the card will not enter the low power state or return from it quickly. To avoid this, minimize all applications and let Windows sit at the desktop.

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