MSI RX 480 Gaming X 8 GB Review 120

MSI RX 480 Gaming X 8 GB Review

Fan Noise »

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, 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.
The MSI Gaming X consumes just about as much power as the non-reference design in non-gaming states. Overall, the numbers here are not that good if you compare them to the GTX 1060, for example. Especially multi-monitor and Blu-ray power draw are very high (nothing MSI can do about that).

Gaming power consumption is increased by much more than I expected. Remember, AMD talked about a 150 W design, and the MSI Gaming X uses more like 200 watts! This seriously hurts performance per watt, which is back down to R9 Fury levels.

Furmark power draw is even higher with up to 225 W, which is right at the PCIe power limit of the card's 8-pin plus slot-power capability. This doesn't concern me at all and is actually a good thing because it provides power headroom, which ensures the card doesn't throttle. Typical gaming power draw is 200 W, and that's the number you should be looking at.

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