I just bought an evga gtx 570 (for $200, great deal!) and things seem... different than what I'm used to.
I've not followed graphics cards much in the last 5 years. The last GPU I had was a 320 mb nvidia 8800 gts. The voltage was always locked at 1.3v, and if I didn't touch it (via riva tuner or ntune) the core, shader and memory clocks would always stay the same.
I could (and did) create profiles to underclock the card when I was just browsing the web/idle, and overclock it when I was gaming, and it would never stray from those set profiles. That is what I'm used to.
I just put in this new 570 and loaded up EVGA precision; and it shows my clock speeds and voltages dynamically changing: dropping down to 50mhz with .9v sometimes (which keeps the temps very low! yay!), or sometimes ramping up. Is this now the norm behavior for graphics cards? Are cards smartly adjusting their clock speeds and voltages based on what we're doing on our computers now?
My questions are these: Can I/should I keep my card from doing this? Does it continue to do this during games? can/should I turn it off and manage these things manually, or will the software do a better job than I would or could?
When I'm gaming, I want my card to run fast so I don't have low framerates, and when idling, I want it to use as little power and generate as little heat as possible.
Basically I don't care about the mechanics of how I do this, whether I manually manage it or let software do it, I just want my card to produce as little heat as possible at idle, and to never throttle my gaming performance while I'm playing.
After seeing how laptops behaved with optimus, where sometimes it would kick in the discrete GPU for little things like youtube (where integrated graphics would be fine) I'm not sure I trust software to actually keep the card low/high enough during idle and gaming. I don't want it ramping up the clocks when I'm just writing a word document or browsing the web! I want to prioritize keeping the card cool during every situation but gaming.
More about :modern gpu automatically change clock speeds voltages
Yes, most modern cards and Cpu's downclock when not required to perform at peak speeds, saving noise, heat and power usage,
you can disable the cpu throttling in bios if desired
don't worry though, your card will only ramp up when the extra power is required, gaming etc