Zotac GeForce 9800 GX2

Zotac GeForce 9800 GX2

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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.

Test System
CPU:Intel Core 2 Duo E6550 2.33 GHz
(Conroe, 2x 2048 KB Cache)
Motherboard:Gigabyte P35C-DS3R
Intel P35
Memory:2x 1024MB A.DATA DDR2 1066+ CL4
Harddisk:WD Raptor 740ADFD 74 GB
Power Supply:OCZ GameXStream 700W
Software:Windows XP SP2
Drivers:NVIDIA: 169.04
ATI: Catalyst 7.11

In order to characterize a video card's power consumption, the whole system's mains power draw was measured. This means that these numbers include CPU, Memory, HDD, Video card and PSU inefficiency.

The three result values are as following:
  • Idle: Windows sitting at the desktop (1024x768 32-bit) all windows closed, drivers installed.
  • Average: 3DMark03 Nature at 1280x1024, 6xAA, 16xAF. This results in the highest power consumption. Average of all readings (two per second) while the test was rendering (no title screen).
  • Peak: 3DMark03 Nature at 1280x1024, 6xAA, 16xAF. This results in the highest power consumption. Highest single reading
The idle power draw of the GeForce 9800 GX2 is horrible, there is no effective power management for idle like on AMD's offerings. The card requires much more power, when idle. Under Vista even the Aero desktop is rendered in SLI which is kinda pointless given its modest GPU requirements.
Under load the 9800 GX2 does a much better job thanks to the energy efficient architecture of NVIDIA. But the single GPU results are very surprising. Disabling the second GPU yields almost no power benefit, actually the peak power draw is higher.
In order to properly load the Zotac 9800 GX2 we had to switch to Crysis 2048x1536 for the load and peak test because 3DMark03 Nature did not draw enough power.

Given the power numbers we see here, I am confident that any half-decent modern power supply can run the GeForce 9800 GX2 without any issues.

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