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We’ve seen a great amount of speculation concerning the possible real-world power consumption of Nvidia’s latest high-end mobile graphics processor. We once again sit down to “taste the pudding,” and perhaps find a truth that nobody could have imagined.
Even with its larger screen, the GTX 480M-equipped system consumes less power at idle than the competing Mobility Radeon HD 5870 notebook. The fact that the numbers spread out even more at maximum CPU load indicates that Nvidia has a true power-miser on its hands, again at idle.
Huge power consumption under full GPU load isn’t so large a concern, since all of these notebooks must be plugged into a power outlet before gaming commences. The biggest problem for the GeForce GTX 480M is thus portability, not power, since an appropriately-sized GPU cooler requires a larger notebook chassis.
Efficiency, on the other hand, is not the GeForce GTX 480M’s strong suit, since it requires so much more power in 3D mode than its predecessor to achieve moderate performance improvements. With that said, Nvidia's new GPU outpaces AMD's current mobile flagship in this measurement.
Battery Eater Pro applies a small, spinning 3D image with just enough GPU load to put the GeForce GTX 480M’s battery-life numbers below its previous-generation mobile GPU. Unfortunately for AMD, its battery-life results are somewhat dismal in comparison.