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Power Requirements of New Graphics Cards

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May 7, 2008 5:11:18 PM

I'm interested in upgrading from my X1950 Pro to something a little more powerful.

I'm after a card that will cope with Crysis at reasonable graphics levels, 1680 by 1050, preferably with FSAA, and also managing to keep up with future releases. The budget is fairly open, probably up to £250, not including the PSU (£80-100ish)

I am matching it to:

  • Q6600 - not currently OC'ed but maybe in the future.
  • 2Gb DDR2 1066MHz, 2.2V
  • 2 HDDs - 7200rpm
  • 3 Case fans
  • 1 Optical drive
  • 1 PCIe expansion card


    Currently I have a budget 450W power supply that is just not going to take a more powerful graphics card. See the related thread for a discussion about which power supply is best.

    I'd really like your input as to:

  • Which card to buy and why?

  • How much power will it need?
    I've seen manufacturers suggesting huge currents (40A) for the latest cards - is this really required? 480W seems rather high just for a GPU.

  • Whether the following PSU's are suitable, other suggestions and comments very welcome:
    - Corsair HX620, (~£82), modular
    - Enermax Modu82+ 525/625, (~£76, ~£105), modular
    - Xclio Greatpower 550W, (~£60), modular
    - P & C Silencer 750W, (~£100), non-modular

    Many Thanks

    Jeremy
    May 7, 2008 5:53:13 PM

    Quote:
    I'm after a card that will cope with Crysis at reasonable graphics levels, 1680 by 1050, preferably with FSAA, and also managing to keep up with future releases. The budget is fairly open, probably up to £250, not including the PSU (£80-100ish)


    So you want it to be decent at crysis and unknown future releases, There isn't any such card right now ! In a few weeks ATI is going to release the 4000 series and Nvidia is rumored to have something new soon (this summer). Maybe wait and see about ATI.
    Related resources
    May 7, 2008 6:42:43 PM

    Ok thanks royalcrown. But I assume people are playing Crysis, for example, at more than the medium graphics settings my ATI card runs?

    What cards should I be looking at for this budget and for that type of gaming?

    Jeremy
    May 7, 2008 7:05:55 PM

    Sorry dos1986 I missed your post.

    Thanks for the useful link I hadn't thought of looking abroad for the PSU and that Corsair is far cheaper.

    I can't SLI with my motherboard, only one 16x slot.

    How can I tell how much power these cards need? That Corsair on the specs wouldn't handle 8800GTS's in SLI as well as everything else, but how do I know? (Sorry very confused)
    May 8, 2008 7:48:34 AM

    Just another question:

    - What power connectors do I need for high end graphics cards? 6pin, 8pin, both, neither?

    Thanks
    Jeremy
    May 8, 2008 1:24:35 PM

    Another question. Maybe I'll just put them together below:

    - What cards should I be looking at for £250 and for 1680 x 1050 resolutions? (Crysis and World in Conflict)

    - How can I tell how much power new graphics cards need?

    - What power connectors do I need for high end graphics cards?

    - Is power consumption expected to fall (suggestion new ATi cards ~110W) therefore do I need to invest in a 650W PSU?

    Thanks again
    Jeremy
    a b U Graphics card
    May 8, 2008 2:52:30 PM

    Its not just about the power the video card needs. You have to consider the PC's overall power reqmts too. The reason you see a lot of higher PSUs suggested is that people do creep towards 40amps and above when OC'ing the CPU, GPU and adding a lot of extra hard drives, BluRay, USB devices and so on. The PSU has to support the total requirements with a little leeway for comfort and longevity.

    About the only real way to tell about actual power consumption it to read the reviews that show that data: Guru3D 9800GTX review example

    Be sure to notice what other hardware the reviewer is using his rig may consume less (or more) power than yours. The general trend is up - its why the 8pin PCI-e power connector was developed. The PCI-e slot can provide up to around ~75watts, a 6pin PCI-e connector can provide another ~75watts and the 8pin can provide ~225. Thats not saying any GPU that uses a 6+8 pin connector will suck 375watts, nothing is even close to that now.

    For power connectors 1 6pin and 1 8pin (6+2) seems to be the new ideal standard.
    Single slot and dual GPU video cards are looking like the "new" high end. Crossfire or SLI in a single PCI-e slot.
    9800GX2 and 3870X2 would be current examples

    My opinion is that a good 550w PSU (Corsair 550VX 41A) will handle any
    current and any future single GPU in the same 8800GTS middle price
    range and still allow CPU, GPU overclocking and allow you to fill up
    your PC case with the normal upgrade options.
    Look here for World in Conflict benchmarks the same article has Crysis and other benchmarks as well. Also 9800GX2 reviews on the same site.

    My recommendation for 16x10 resolution is a good quality 8800GTS and OC it yourself to match the 9800GTX.
    May 8, 2008 3:28:16 PM

    Cheers WR2 that post was really informative.

    Generally they are going to require more power than I need for the system currently; more power hungry processors, water cooling etc.
    I suspect, correct me if I am wrong, that I need to be looking for a PSU with and 8pin connector and probably a few 6pins, between 550 - 600W, with 40+A avaliable on the 12V. What do you think to these ones?

    - Corsair HX520/620, (~£82), modular, max, 40/50A
    - Enermax Modu82+ 525/625, (~£76, ~£105), modular, max 40/50A
    - P & C Silencer 750W, (~£100), non-modular, max 60A

    Are they overkill for my system?

    Also with new graphics cards due to be released in the near future, Ati 4xxx and possibly some new NVidia (?), am I best to wait and see how they shape up compared to current cards? Presumably if Ati beat NVidia there will be a price cut somewhere anyway?

    Many Thanks
    Jeremy
    a b U Graphics card
    May 8, 2008 3:55:55 PM

    A single 6 and a single 8 should be fine.
    Those are all very high quality choices and they range from overkill to massive overkill.
    IMO the Modu82+ 425W 33A model is just light overkill and a good fit for your future goals (any single 2nd highest end GPU - as in 9800GTX vs 9800GX2). If the price difference beween the 425 and 525 isnt that great you'd probably be more comfortable with that - not that you'd need it.

    At 16x10 resolution and with your 1950Pro I'd wait a month or six weeks and see what falls out of the news & reviews on the Nvidia G200 and ATI R7xx. There could be GPU wars this summer and you could be one of the winners. Just out of curiosity - what is your current make/model PSU and its ratings?

    In the mean time play Crysis in a 1280x1024 window, AA/AF off or low - and graphics options to the level where you feel the game is still enjoyable. That should keep you happy for a bit longer.
    May 8, 2008 4:11:37 PM

    Currently I have a "WinPower 450W" 25A max on 12V, 22A Max 5V, single 6pin. Which I suspect is serious budget and not really capable of a new card.

    I was beginning to wonder whether those PSU's were a little on the overkill side. I don't have watercooling (nor planing to) or any other hugely powerful components so even 550W seemed lots. I was just pushed up by manufacturers suggesting 40A for the GPU.

    I think I'll take the advice and hang fire on a card for a bit and see what happens, as you say I could end up a winner in all of this. In the mean time I would like to sort a PSU that will handle the upgrade.

    May 11, 2008 9:41:34 PM

    Having chosen to hang fire on a graphics card I'm still, probably (see post above), in need of a new PSU. The options seems to be:

    - Enermax 525W, £76, Scan
    Pro's: Modular (with upgrade potential), 40A on 12V
    Con's: 3x 8pin's (what's the point in 3 don't you always need pairs?), expensive, 3yr warranty

    - Enermax 625W, £105, Ebuyer
    Pro's: Modular, 50A on 12V, 4x 8pin
    Con's: Expensive, 3yr warranty

    - Corsair HX 520W, £64.50 Dabs.com
    Pro's: Modular, 40A 12V, cheapest
    Con's: 2x 8 pins

    - Corsair HX 620W, £80 Overclockers
    Pro's: Modular, 12V 50A, 5yr
    Con's: 2x 8 pins, could have the 520 with the same number of 8pins for less

    - Corsair TX 750W, £82 Overclockers
    Pro's: 60A 12V, 4x 8pin, 5yr, only £2 for extra 130W and 2x 8pin
    Con's 750W is massive overkill, non-modular

    But how on earth do I choose?

    I would ideally like to keep this power supply for this build and the next (3yrs time), which could be SLI/Crossfire.
    - Is this reasonable?
    - Are motherboard connections expected to change in the next 2-3yrs?
    - Is there any point going for more expensive with 4x 8pin in the hope that graphics card designers won't have moved onto something else when I want to SLI in 3 years time?
    May 12, 2008 9:02:57 AM

    Another quick question do I need more than 40A on the 12V if I want to put an X2 card in? Obviously this is in light of the new ATi card due out soon.
    May 12, 2008 6:07:32 PM

    Probably on balance if I can't use the PSU into the future I should go with the Corsair HX 520W (2x 8pin), if I can use it maybe the TX 720W (4x 8pin) would be a better buy. Enermax looks to be more expensive than it's worth.

    Can anyone advise me on:
    - Whether the 12V rail needs more than 40A on for an X2 card.

    - Whether motherboard connections expected to change in the next 2-3yrs.

    - If there is any point going for more expensive PSU with 4x 8pin in the hope that graphics card designers won't have moved onto something else when I want to SLI in 3 years time?

    Thanks
    Jeremy
    a b U Graphics card
    May 12, 2008 7:22:35 PM

    Best guess is that 600W 40Amps will handle any single
    X2 model
    The Evga 9800GX2 suggests a 600W 28Amp 1x6 & 1x8 connectors for all the PCs power requirements. (from the Evga website)

    The best information I could find about 3870X2 was from the Sapphire website:



    I've seen pictures of the new Nehalem motherboards (strange to see no Northbridge chip) but have no real idea of current PSUs will support them.
    Im guessing the answer will be yes - the motherboards will handle any differences in power requirements and not require changes in PSUs.

    No opinion on 2x vs 4x PCI-e connectors.

    May 12, 2008 8:28:27 PM

    Thanks for the post again WR2. Good info.

    It looks like 40A is plenty to run the system and a X2 card. Maybe I'll drop a post on the motherboards page about whether new boards will use new different power supply design. (Post here: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/249728-30-power-requi...)

    Do we know if the power supply to graphics cards is expected to change much?

    I am probably considering:

    - HX520 if I have to replace it to support new motherboards,
    - TX750 if I do not have to replace it and it will support 2 GPU's at a later date.

    Enermax is just too much money!
    !