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Power Consumption Test System And Electricity Cost

How Much Power Does Your Graphics Card Need?
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These tables show the power consumption of the test system in watts, which consists of a Core 2 Duo running at 2.93 GHz, such as used in a standard PC. The wattage figures are not the actual load on the power supply, but the power measurement at the outlet; this tells you what to expect the full power costs to be. For cost projections, we assumed 8 hours a day at full load operation for a year, with an energy cost of 20 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh).

Formula for calculation:

Electricity cost for 1 year = (power consumption outlet watts x 8 hours x 365 days): 1000 x 0.2 dollars

These values should convey a basic sense of the energy costs we’re dealing with here. The 2D value determines the power consumption without load when Windows and the graphics card are idle; this value can be further reduced with current 45 nm CPUs and power-saving settings. The minimal power consumption of the graphics card is determined by the manufacturer; if the graphics processor and graphics memory don’t reduce their clock rate (as with the AMD Radeon HD 4870), you can help yourself by setting them manually using tools such as Riva Tuner or the graphics driver. Otherwise, you have to live with increased power consumption in 2D mode.

The 3D value is the maximum power draw when the CPU and graphics card run at 100%; this is used as the basis for calculating the electricity cost. In practice, the maximum power consumption at any given time depends on the resolution, filter method and scene within the game. Anti-aliasing (AA) can slow down the graphics card, though this can reduce CPU load and cause the power consumption of the total system to decrease. At lower resolutions or with less complex game scenes, the graphics card might not be at full load. The 3D full load was measured at 1920x1200 pixels without anti-aliasing; this fully loaded all graphics cards in the test scene (which is a Mass Effect startup screen, using the UT3 engine).

Power Consumption of Entire System With AMD Graphic Card
2D Desktop Watts (Socket)
3D Full Load Watts (Socket)
Cost in Dollars 365 Days x 8 Hours
Radeon HD 4870 X2 (2x1024 MB)
202
430
251
Radeon HD 4870 (512 MB)
147
288
168
Radeon HD 4850 (512 MB)
122
237
138
Radeon HD 4670 (512 MB)
81
173
101
Radeon HD 4550 (512 MB)
81
135
79
Radeon HD 3870 X2 (2x512 MB)
132
349
204
Radeon HD 3870 (512 MB)
95
216
126
Radeon HD 3850 (256 MB)
88
192
112
Radeon HD 3650 (512 MB)
89
167
98
Radeon HD 3470 (256 MB)
90
140
82
Radeon HD 3450 (256 MB)
85
132
77
Radeon HD 2900 XT (512 MB)
142
310
181
Radeon HD 2600 XT (512 MB)
86
170
99
Radeon HD 2600 XT (256 MB)
96
172
100
Radeon HD 2600 PRO (256 MB)
82
151
88
Radeon HD 2400 XT (256 MB)
82
138
81
Radeon HD 2400 PRO (256 MB)
81
130
76
Radeon X1950 XTX (512 MB)
102
238
139
Radeon X1950 XT (256 MB)
105
254
148
Radeon X1950 Pro (256 MB)
102
198
116
Radeon X1950 GT (256 MB)
100
188
110
Radeon X1900 XT (512 MB)
107
262
153
Radeon X1900 XT (256 MB)
101
233
136
Radeon X1900 GT (256 MB)
106
205
120
Radeon X1800 XT (512 MB)
112
211
123
Radeon X1800 XT (256 MB)
109
215
126
Radeon X1800 XL (256 MB)
105
174
102
Radeon X1800 GTO (256 MB)
100
163
95
Radeon X1650 XT (256 MB)
100
175
102
Radeon X1650 Pro (256 MB)
92
158
92
Radeon X1600 XT (256 MB)
92
156
91
Radeon X1600 Pro (256 MB)
93
151
88
Radeon X1300 XT (256 MB)
94
158
92
Radeon X1300 Pro (128 MB)
88
140
82
Radeon X1300 (256 MB)
86
136
79
Radeon X800 XT (256 MB)
93
182
106
Power Consumption of Entire System with AMD Graphic Card
2D Desktop Watts (Socket)
3D Full Load Watts (Socket)
Cost in Dollars 365 Days x 8 Hours
Radeon HD 4870 CF (512 MB)
242
460
269
Radeon HD 4850 CF (512 MB)
177
367
214
Radeon HD 3870 x2 CF (4x512 MB)
199
610
356
Radeon HD 3870 3CF (3x512 MB)
162
464
271
Radeon HD 3870 CF (512 MB)
124
323
189
Radeon HD 3850 CF (256 MB)
111
279
163
Radeon HD 3650 CF (512 MB)
112
235
137
Radeon HD 2900 XT CF (512 MB)
222
540
315
Radeon HD 2600 XT CF (512 MB)
105
246
144
Radeon HD 2600 Pro (256 MB)
98
198
116
Radeon X1950 XTX CF (512 MB)
146
378
221
Radeon X1900 XT CF (512 MB)
149
404
236
Radeon X1600 XT CF (256 MB)
122
209
122
Radeon X1600 Pro CF (256 MB)
118
193
113
Power Consumption of The Entire System With Nvidia Graphic Card (SLI)
2D Desktop Watts (Socket)
3D Full Load Watts (Socket)
Cost in Dollars 365 Days x 8 Hours
GeForce GTX 280 SLI (1024 MB)
203
540
315
GeForce GTX 260 SLI (896 MB)211
610
356
GeForce 9800 GTX SLI (512 MB)235
462
270
GeForce 9600 GT SLI (1024 MB)182
302
176
GeForce 8800 GTS SLI (512 MB)230
445
260
GeForce 8800 GT SLI (1024 MB)184
326
190
GeForce 8800 GT SLI (512 MB)203
392
229
GeForce 8800 Ultra 3SLI (768 MB)388
715
418
GeForce 8800 Ultra SLI (768 MB)294
580
339
GeForce 8800 GTS SLI (320 MB)234
420
245
GeForce 8600 GTS SLI (256 MB)164
277
162
GeForce 8600 GT SLI (256 MB)155
253
148
GeForce 7950 GX2 SLI (4x 512 MB)225
370
216
GeForce 7950 GT SLI (512 MB)170
284
166
GeForce 7900 GT SLI (256 MB)161
256
150
GeForce 7900 GS SLI (256 MB)155
252
147
GeForce 7800 GTX SLI (256 MB)187
340
199
GeForce 7800 GT SLI (256 MB)162
289
169
GeForce 7600 GT SLI (256 MB)145
232
135
GeForce 7600 GS SLI (256 MB)137
205
120
Power Consumption of The Entire System with Nvidia Graphic Cards
2D Desktop Watts (Socket)
3D Full Load Watts (Socket)
Cost in Dollars 365 Days x 8 Hours
GeForce GTX 280 (1024 MB)
117
352
206
GeForce GTS 260 (896 MB)
111
336
196
GeForce 9800 GX2 (2x512 MB)
173
368
215
GeForce 9800 GTX (512 MB)
119
257
150
GeForce 9800 GTX (512 MB)
126
264
154
GeForce 9600 GT (1024 MB)
102
187
109
GeForce 9600 GT (512 MB)
106
208
121
GeForce 8800 GTS (512 MB)
127
277
162
GeForce 8800 GTS (512 MB)
126
269
157
GeForce 8800 GT (1024 MB)
103
198
116
GeForce 8800 GT (512 MB)
115
239
140
GeForce 8800 Ultra (768 MB)
154
313
183
GeForce 8800 GTX (768 MB)
146
296
173
GeForce 8800 GTS (640 MB)
138
256
150
GeForce 8800 GTS (320 MB)
127
240
140
GeForce 8600 GTS (512 MB)
98
178
104
GeForce 8600 GTS (256 MB)
93
172
100
GeForce 8600 GT (256 MB)
89
160
93
GeForce 8500 GT (256 MB)
85
140
82
GeForce 8400 GS (256 MB)
83
136
79
GeForce 7950 GX2 (2x512 MB)
120
120
139
GeForce 7950 GT (512 MB)
99
183
107
GeForce 7900 GTX (512 MB)
105
206
120
GeForce 7900 GTO (512 MB)
104
202
118
GeForce 7900 GT (256 MB)
93
163
95
GeForce 7900 GS (256 MB)
95
164
96
GeForce 7800 GTX (512 MB)
105
235
137
GeForce 7800 GTX (256 MB)
105
208
121
GeForce 7800 GT (256 MB)
95
183
107
GeForce 7600 GT (256 MB)
88
152
89
GeForce 7600 GS (256 MB)
88
137
80
GeForce 7300 GT (256 MB)
84
133
78
GeForce 7300 GS (128 MB)
82
132
77
GeForce 6800 Ultra (256 MB)
122
202
118
GeForce 6800 GT (256 MB)
116
185
108
GeForce 6600 GT (128 MB)
90
161
94
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Top Comments
  • 10 Hide
    nukemaster , January 21, 2009 10:59 AM
    This article was due. No more you need an 800 watt psu for the 4870 , core2 quad ad 1 hard drive anymore :p 

    Guest11since Core i7 920 has TDP = 130W, how can it consume 85W only?

    The TDP is more of a design thing. Almost all of Intels initial Core2 line had a TDP of 65 watts yet many took much less power. Intel gives a worst case of that type number and does not measure every cpu.

    AMD does the same thing. They listed almost all the initial Athlon 64's at 89 watts yet many did not take that or give off that amount.

    zxv9511.21 Jigawatts !!!

    You act like you would need a small fusion reactor or maybe a bolt of lightning to get that?
Other Comments
  • 7 Hide
    Inktfish , January 21, 2009 8:52 AM
    Could you please add the Radeon 4830? :) 
  • 3 Hide
    sepuko , January 21, 2009 9:13 AM
    Took the words right out of my mouth.
  • -5 Hide
    Anonymous , January 21, 2009 10:06 AM
    since Core i7 920 has TDP = 130W, how can it consume 85W only?
  • -3 Hide
    Anonymous , January 21, 2009 10:46 AM
    1.21 Jigawatts !!!
  • 10 Hide
    nukemaster , January 21, 2009 10:59 AM
    This article was due. No more you need an 800 watt psu for the 4870 , core2 quad ad 1 hard drive anymore :p 

    Guest11since Core i7 920 has TDP = 130W, how can it consume 85W only?

    The TDP is more of a design thing. Almost all of Intels initial Core2 line had a TDP of 65 watts yet many took much less power. Intel gives a worst case of that type number and does not measure every cpu.

    AMD does the same thing. They listed almost all the initial Athlon 64's at 89 watts yet many did not take that or give off that amount.

    zxv9511.21 Jigawatts !!!

    You act like you would need a small fusion reactor or maybe a bolt of lightning to get that?
  • -1 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , January 21, 2009 11:39 AM
    So my system actually has a too big power supply to be effective?
    I'm running a 3,4ghz c2d with 5x500gb sata drives, a dvdrw and a 4870 on a p35 board.
    According to the article that's not going to draw the ~400W needed to get within effective range of my corsair 620 ....
  • 2 Hide
    cynewulf , January 21, 2009 11:46 AM
    There's a mistake in the power under load for the 3870X2. It shows the same as the idle consumption. If only that were true! :D 
  • 3 Hide
    Inneandar , January 21, 2009 11:48 AM
    The TDP (thermal design power) is meant to be a guideline for the cooling solution, not the power consumption. To qualify for a cpu with a TDP of 120W, a cooler must be able to dissipate 120W. Practically, of course, this means it is an upper bound to (sensible) power consumption.

    also small note: Is it just me or is it strange to see the 260 SLI consume more than the 280 SLI. maybe in need of a beefier test scene...
  • 2 Hide
    zodiacfml , January 21, 2009 11:53 AM
    nice collection of data. i hope many learn from this and avoid recommending too powerful supplies.
  • 0 Hide
    roofus , January 21, 2009 12:12 PM
    better off with too much power supply than not enough. at least if you over-spec the power supply you leave some breathing room for any additional components.
  • 0 Hide
    kschoche , January 21, 2009 12:34 PM
    neiroatopelccSo my system actually has a too big power supply to be effective? I'm running a 3,4ghz c2d with 5x500gb sata drives, a dvdrw and a 4870 on a p35 board. According to the article that's not going to draw the ~400W needed to get within effective range of my corsair 620 ....


    Absolutely Correct!
    If you add all of those components together, and get 400W, and your PSU is only 75% efficient at that level, you're actually consuming ~500W and your PSU is eating that extra 100W. Though if you have a modern PSU, its usually not that bad, but goes to show that idiots who buy 1200W PSU's because it has a big number really are just that, idiots.
  • -1 Hide
    zodiacfml , January 21, 2009 12:51 PM
    yes if you're planning to add a video card but adding a couple of hard drives, dvd drive, or upgrading the processor won't require more than 100W allowance.

    roofusbetter off with too much power supply than not enough. at least if you over-spec the power supply you leave some breathing room for any additional components.

  • 0 Hide
    one-shot , January 21, 2009 2:01 PM
    kschocheAbsolutely Correct!If you add all of those components together, and get 400W, and your PSU is only 75% efficient at that level, you're actually consuming ~500W and your PSU is eating that extra 100W. Though if you have a modern PSU, its usually not that bad, but goes to show that idiots who buy 1200W PSU's because it has a big number really are just that, idiots.


    Let's take a step back. If his PSU is 400W and it is 75% efficient, then it draws 533.3W at maximum power draw. You are somewhat close, but you generalized. Different PSU's are more efficient at different load percentages, but 75% sounds alright for an older PSU. His Computer draws 400W and his PSU draws 533W from the receptacle on the wall.
  • 3 Hide
    billiardicus , January 21, 2009 2:09 PM
    Toms,

    Great article. This is exactly why I visit your page everyday. How about adding the GTX 295 and 285 in single and SLI configurations to the list? Hey, somebody has to ask right? :) 
  • -4 Hide
    hyteck9 , January 21, 2009 2:29 PM
    Where is the Nvidia 295?
    I think the 295 with an i7 OC'd to 4Ghz is going to be a pretty standard choice in the coming months... add a hard drive and a DVD-burner and your looking at 600WATTs at full load... so 800WATT PSU would be the right choice, yes?
  • 3 Hide
    Niva , January 21, 2009 2:33 PM
    Well I learned something, I always thought that PSU ratings are based on what they can suck out, not what they put out to the computer components which they power... now that I'm looking at this article I feel pretty stupid for thinking this all these years.
  • 4 Hide
    Pei-chen , January 21, 2009 2:49 PM
    One of the best articles ever. I hate proving myself when I tell people that using an inefficient video card will increase their electric bill by $50 vs. an efficient card. An idiot actually told me that the difference between a GTX 260 and 4870 running 24/7 at idle for a year is less than $10.

    My system:
    ASUS P5B Deluxe WiFi-AP
    E6400 @ 2.56Ghz @ 1.135v with Speedstop enabled
    8GB OCZ PC2-6400 RAM @ 1.8v
    Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro with PWM enabled
    Antec NeoPower 550 PSU
    2x Seagate 7200.11 1.5TB drive
    1x Toshiba SATA DVD+/-RW drive
    GIGABYTE GV-R485OC-1GH Radeon 4850 @350 core/500 ram

    The idle power consumption at plug is 1.06A. Gaming load is about 1.71A with the Radeon overclocked to 730 core and 1130 ram. The 4850 consumption should be lower than typical 4850s because it uses GIGABYTE's custom PCB. Clearly my PSU is overkill as I only load it between 20~40% but it is not that easy to find good quality small PSU two years ago. Good thing it’s efficient.
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , January 21, 2009 3:12 PM
    This is an exellent article!

    There has been way too much bull about needing a 500 watter or more for a regular board, cpu and single graphics card. Its also great to have figures to compute total cost of ownership per GPU. The PC i game on is more on then off, so this info is significant. Thank you.
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , January 21, 2009 3:16 PM
    Interesting article.. it should be noted that those of us with Geforce 2** cards and two monitors active will always be drawing the full 3D load of powe.

    There is a bug in the latest two WHQL drivers which causes throttling to not occur even if there are no 3D applications active.
  • 7 Hide
    hyteck9 , January 21, 2009 3:30 PM
    Dont forget to spend $500 on a UPS that can handle your 800-1000 watt power supply!
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