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Power Consumption And Temperatures

System Builder Marathon, March 2012: $650 Gaming PC

Power Consumption

Last quarter's PC was driven by an Antec EarthWatts 430 W power supply with an 80 PLUS Bronze certification, while today's employs a Rosewill Green Series 630 W model with the more vanilla 80 PLUS cert.

Processor power saving features are enabled on both rigs. Meanwhile, the CPU and graphics card fans are controlled automatically, yielding quieter operation.

To see both machines consume only 56 W at idle, and so little under load, is simply amazing. Props to Intel for its efficient Sandy Bridge architecture, and to AMD for the low 2D idle consumption of these 6000-series Radeons.

While the performance of Intel’s bundled cooler isn't particularly impressive, it facilitates quiet operation and adequate cooling at stock frequencies. XFX's graphics cooler exhausts very little air out its rear vent. However, thermals were hardly a concern inside our small microATX mini tower. 

Automatic fan settings on the XFX Radeon HD 6950 never accelerated beyond 39% of the available ramp, even when the GPU was mildly overclocked. So, there's cooling to spare in the event we want to venture above Overdrive's frequency ceilings. Likewise, the more aggressively overclocked Radeon HD 6870 used last quarter only spun up from 37% to 40% to cope with the added heat from overclocking. Neither machine is silent, but both are adequately quiet.

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