AMD Radeon R9 Fury X 4 GB Review 348

AMD Radeon R9 Fury X 4 GB Review

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Power Consumption

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, the values here 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 representing 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 7 Aero sitting at the desktop (1920x1080) with all windows closed and drivers installed. Card left to warm up in idle mode until power draw was stable.
  • Multi-monitor: Two monitors connected to the tested card, both using different display timings. Windows 7 Aero sitting at the desktop (1920x1080+1280x1024) with all windows closed and drivers installed. Card left to warm up in idle mode until power draw was stable. When using two identical monitors with 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 9 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, representing a typical gaming power draw. Average of all readings (12 per second) while the benchmark was rendering (no title/loading screen). In order to heat up the card, we run the benchmark once without measuring power consumption.
  • Peak: Metro: Last Light at 1920x1080, 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 no-game power-consumption that can typically be reached only 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.
Single-monitor idle power consumption is a little bit higher than on previous Radeon products. My guess is that the pump adds some power draw, and the memory, despite being more efficient, runs at 500 MHz in that state instead of the 150 MHz on GDDR5.

What is a big improvement is multi-monitor power draw. In the past, AMD's cards used a ton of power as soon as a second monitor was connected because the memory was clocked at full speed. Since HBM runs 500 MHz at all times and is more power-efficient on top, the improvements here are big, finally making AMD's cards competitive to NVIDIA's offering in this section of our test.

Next up is Blu-ray playback, which is improved, though not nearly enough. The GPU ramps up to its full 3D clocks, which causes a large increase in power draw. NVIDIA's cards, on the other hand, stay at their idle clocks, which helps a lot. I'm not sure if building a media PC with this much heat only due to the graphics card makes sense.

Gaming power consumption has been improved greatly considering the increase in performance; performance-per-watt has improved by around 30%. This puts the card slightly above the GTX 980 Ti and Titan X in terms of absolute power consumption, but the difference is not big.

Furmark maximum power is high, but this test is mainly to determine the power limit and to generate the absolute worst-case power-draw value.

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