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Underclocking a GPU/Are they too power hungry even when idle?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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July 1, 2011 10:20:10 AM

So I think I've finally narrowed down all of the specs for a new system I'm going to build in about 5 weeks, and I've chosen to go with the 6870 by Radeon. It's about all that I'm willing to pay for a graphics card, and it seems to perform well and isn't power hungry when idle. I'm still concerned about operating costs though. While I will be doing some gaming on my rig, that probably wont even account for 50% of what its doing when its on. I believe I've read that this particular card requires ~ 125W when idle. First of all I will admit my ignorance now and say I'm not sure if that's good or bad in terms of graphics cards, but I suspect that it's high because while this is certainly better than cards that outperform it (like the GTX 580) it's still above cards that it outperforms, all of which are more than sufficient to run simple desktop operations.

In light of this I'm wondering if there's a way to increase idling efficiency. Is underclocking the answer? Is there an answer?
a b U Graphics card
July 1, 2011 10:33:22 AM

Total system draw might be 125 at idle.... No video cards are power hungry at idle, not even a GTX 580.
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a b U Graphics card
July 1, 2011 12:06:18 PM

Jesus are you really going to notice much difference in your operating costs if you manage to drop the power down by 20 odd watts. I bet you occasionally leave the odd light on or the TV on standby which would blow the tiny bit you might save out the water anyway. At the end of the day you've chosen quite a high end GPU which will require more juice to run. It's just one of those things.
Sorry for sounding negative but you'll just have to get on with it.
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July 1, 2011 5:16:53 PM

I like how people can come here to talk about attempts squeeze out max performance by tweaking of tenths of a Volt in order to maybe get a few more FPS in a game, or paying good coin to decrease case temps by a few degrees, but when someone asks about the opposite end of the spectrum it's taboo.
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a b U Graphics card
July 1, 2011 5:36:05 PM

Well to be honest by the very nature of gaming and it requiring lots of power I totally understand people squeezing every FPS, and also a few degrees drop in temp you are protecting your investment. On the other hand i'm not so sure about the power saving but good luck to you if you achieve that and maybe you could post how you did it at a later date?
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a b U Graphics card
July 1, 2011 11:27:21 PM

Hotobu said:
I like how people can come here to talk about attempts squeeze out max performance by tweaking of tenths of a Volt in order to maybe get a few more FPS in a game, or paying good coin to decrease case temps by a few degrees, but when someone asks about the opposite end of the spectrum it's taboo.

You need a proper perspective so you can ask the right kind of question.

You asked if you can underclock the video card to have a lower idling TDP. Guess what? Video cards do that anyways. Just keeping a PCIe slot awake takes like 10 watts, you aren't going to see any difference between the power draw of of a GTS 450 or GTX 580 at idle.

You should research the idle power draw of the video card yourself. Obviously you confused yourself by thinking the power draw of the video card was 125W when I'm sure it was total system draw (of an i7 or something) at idle.
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