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At idle, all of these cards do fairly well. The only outliers are the two GF100-based boards, which use about 10W more than competing GF104- and Cypress/Juniper-based cards.
Under load, however, it’s painfully obvious that the highest consumers of power are GF100-derived boards. AMD’s Radeon HD 5830 interestingly comes in third, followed by Nvidia’s first GF104-based card, the GeForce GTX 460 1 GB. The 768 MB version of the card uses 18W less under load. And of course, AMD’s Juniper-based Radeon HD 5770 is quite power-friendly.
Not surprisingly, there’s a relationship between power consumption and maximum temperature. Somewhere in there, also, is a maximum tolerable fan speed that each company can use to keep temps down.
The really surprising thing here is that, even though the GF104-based cards aren’t the lowest-power in our review, they operate at the coolest temperatures and do so using remarkably-quiet fans. In fact, there wasn’t much difference between the acoustics at idle and under load. AMD’s Radeon HD 5770 is comparable in that way; however, its load temp is notably higher.
Compare the GF104-based cards to the GF100-based boards—the difference is fairly staggering.