Cooling modern video cards is becoming more and more difficult, especially with users asking for a quiet cooling solution, which is why engineers are now paying much more attention to the power consumption of new graphics card designs. An optimized fan-profile is also one of the few things board vendors can create to impress with reference designs where they are prohibited from making changes to the thermal solution or components on the card.
For this test, we measure the power consumption of only the graphics card via the PCI-Express power connector(s) and PCI-Express bus slot. A Keithley Integra 2700 digital multimeter with 6.5-digit resolution is used for all measurements. Again, these values only reflect the card's power consumption as measured at its DC inputs, not that of the whole system.
We use Metro: Last Light as a standard test for typical 3D gaming usage because it offers the following: very high power draw; high repeatability; is a current game that is supported on all cards; drivers are actively tested and optimized for it; supports all multi-GPU configurations; test runs in a relatively short time and renders a non-static scene with variable complexity.
Our results are based on the following tests:
- Idle: Windows 10 sitting at the desktop (1920x1080) with all windows closed and drivers installed. The card is left to warm up in idle mode until power draw is stable.
- Multi-monitor: Two monitors are connected to the tested card, and both use different display timings. Windows 10 is sitting at the desktop (1920x1080+1280x1024) with all windows closed and drivers installed. The card is left to warm up in idle mode until power draw is stable. When using two identical monitors with the same timings and resolution, power consumption will be lower. Our test represents the usage model of many productivity users who have one big screen and a small monitor on the side.
- Blu-ray Playback: Power DVD 15 Ultra is used at a resolution of 1920x1080 to play back the Batman: The Dark Knight Blu-ray disc with GPU acceleration turned on. Measurements start around timecode 1:19, which has the highest data rates on the BD with up to 40 Mb/s. Playback keeps running until power draw converges to a stable value.
- Average: Metro: Last Light at 1920x1080 because it is representative of a typical gaming power draw. The average of all readings (12 per second) while the benchmark was rendering (no title/loading screen) is used. In order to heat up the card, the benchmark is run once without measuring power consumption.
- Peak: Metro: We use Last Light at 1920x1080 as it produces power draw typical to gaming. The highest single reading during the test is used.
- Maximum: We use Furmark Stability Test at 1280x1024, 0xAA. This results in a very high no-game power-consumption reading that can typically only be reached with stress-testing applications. We report the highest single reading after a short startup period. Initial bursts during startup are not included as they are too short to be relevant.
Power consumption results of other cards on this page are measurements of the respective reference design.
With NVIDIA's move to a 16 nanometer FinFET production process, power savings are expected, and the company has also focused on improving power efficiency over the last few years. The resulting GeForce GTX 1080 is more than impressive.
In non-gaming states, the card reaches the lowest power consumption of all cards. What I find incredible is the Blu-ray playback power consumption of only 7 watts. AMD's closest currently shipping product is the R9 Fury, which requires nearly eight times as much power for the same task!
Gaming power consumption is extremely modest. With 166 watts in typical gaming, the card pretty much has the exact same power requirements as the GeForce GTX 980 while providing much higher gaming performance. As a result, performance-per-watt is nearly doubled over the previous Maxwell architecture!
The board's power draw limit seems to be set to 185 W, as revealed by our Furmark test.