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Explanation Of The Calculation Method

What Do High-End Graphics Cards Cost In Terms Of Electricity?
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The Fundamentals of Our Consumption Calculation

It might seem complicated at first reading, but it is in fact really quite simple. We follow a specific person over a long period of time and track the run time of all programs and the total power consumption, including idle periods. The result is a representative, statistical average value of an average day. The details of the computer configuration used do not matter, as we are just after the average daily application usage of the users for now.

For our next step, we choose any of the relevant applications and measure the energy consumption of our test system equipped with a very low-end graphics card. The results are assigned to each respective application as a base value. Then, we measure the average consumption of each application again, but with different, more powerful, high-end graphics cards.

The period of time for testing varies between the applications. Games are tested for at least 15 minutes (much longer in most cases), depending on how graphics-heavy the game is, for example. We limited ourselves to five minutes for hardware-accelerated video.

As the last step for each profile, the power consumption of every single graphics card configuration is determined, including the basic configuration. We simply use the sum of time spent in the programs per day, multiplied by the specific consumption of each graphics card setup for the respective applications.

Results

In the end, we get the average total power consumption values for each system and graphics cards used. By subtracting the base configuration values from each result, we get the pure consumption compared to the base configuration. Multiplying the results with the current cost of electricity, we get to total costs, both the initial costs and the operational costs. Multiplying the daily values by the amount of days using the computer per year takes us to a yearly result.

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Top Comments
  • 13 Hide
    scook9 , February 16, 2011 4:42 AM
    They are also neglecting the positive side effects like not needing a space heater in the winter....you recoup alot of energy right there :D 
  • 12 Hide
    damric , February 16, 2011 4:34 AM
    I don't get it. Are they saying that a GTX 480 will cost a hard core gamer $90/year in electricity? Seems like a drop in the bucket considering my power bills are over $90/month in the winter and over $250/month in the summer. Just think of all the money the hard core gamer saves from not having a girlfriend :D 
Other Comments
  • 3 Hide
    alikum , February 16, 2011 4:13 AM
    Nvidia cards consume power like crazy
  • 12 Hide
    damric , February 16, 2011 4:34 AM
    I don't get it. Are they saying that a GTX 480 will cost a hard core gamer $90/year in electricity? Seems like a drop in the bucket considering my power bills are over $90/month in the winter and over $250/month in the summer. Just think of all the money the hard core gamer saves from not having a girlfriend :D 
  • 13 Hide
    scook9 , February 16, 2011 4:42 AM
    They are also neglecting the positive side effects like not needing a space heater in the winter....you recoup alot of energy right there :D 
  • 3 Hide
    porksmuggler , February 16, 2011 4:52 AM
    ^Tell me about it, warmest room in the house right here. Turn the thermostat down, and boot the rig up.

    Typo on the enthusiast graph. calculations are correct, but it should be 13ct/kWh, not 22ct/kWh.
  • 3 Hide
    jimslaid2 , February 16, 2011 5:20 AM
    Glad I bought the 6870 over the gtx 460 1g
  • 4 Hide
    aznshinobi , February 16, 2011 5:36 AM
    The fact that you mentioned a porsche. no matter what the context. I love that you mentioned it :D 
  • 7 Hide
    AMW1011 , February 16, 2011 5:48 AM
    So at worst, my GTX 480 is costing me $90 a year? Sorry if I'm not alarmed...

    Also I can't imagine having 8 hours of gaming time every day. 5 hours even seems extreme. Sometimes, you just can't game AT ALL in a day, or a week.

    Some people do have lives...
  • -2 Hide
    nebun , February 16, 2011 6:09 AM
    alikumNvidia cards consume power like crazy

    who cares....if you have the money to buy them you can pay for the electricity...it's just like SUVs, you have the money to buy them you can keep them running
  • 0 Hide
    nebun , February 16, 2011 6:11 AM
    AMW1011So at worst, my GTX 480 is costing me $90 a year? Sorry if I'm not alarmed...Also I can't imagine having 8 hours of gaming time every day. 5 hours even seems extreme. Sometimes, you just can't game AT ALL in a day, or a week.Some people do have lives...

    i run my 480 sli rig to fold almost 24/7...do i care about my bill...HELL NO
  • 1 Hide
    Darkerson , February 16, 2011 6:15 AM
    Very nice article! Keep it up!
  • -1 Hide
    Kodiack , February 16, 2011 6:32 AM
    Your enthusiastic profiles aren't all that enthusiastic. :(  I'm sure my Radeon 5970+5870 tri-CrossFire combination will cost me quite a few dollars over the months. Fortunately, I've got some pretty good power-saving features in use to lighten the pain.
  • 2 Hide
    ohseus , February 16, 2011 6:36 AM
    I;d be curious to see a toaster, a microwave,a light bulb or ceiling fan (some thing of hat sort) added the power consumption list for comparisons sake.
  • 2 Hide
    eddieroolz , February 16, 2011 6:53 AM
    A very interesting article. I only game once every few days if at all now, so I guess it makes sense for me to stay with my GTS 250 for now.

    By the way, space heater ftw!
  • 4 Hide
    compton , February 16, 2011 8:29 AM

    It would be really useful to know what a folding setup running 24/7 costs. Perhaps one day you could use it to get a "Folding for the Future" tax credit on the books. Maybe Toms can lead the lobbying effort in Washington.


    Compared to the 4000w, 240v industrial space heater I was using over Christmas, my computer will have to work all year to match the utility cost.

    I second "space heater ftw!"
  • 0 Hide
    pinkfloydminnesota , February 16, 2011 8:46 AM
    Great article. I hope you can somehow include these costs in reviews as electricity costs go higher and video cards get more powerful.

    I am able to lower the heat in my Minnesota corner room tx to the pc on the floor and the screens on the desk!
  • 0 Hide
    sudeshc , February 16, 2011 9:31 AM
    absolutely right that if you can buy them you can run them.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , February 16, 2011 9:32 AM
    39$ / year? Why an article about it? Lobbying?
  • 0 Hide
    liquidsnake718 , February 16, 2011 9:39 AM
    Yes! Score for my (now og) 5850!!!!!!!!!!!! What about in crossfire though?
  • 0 Hide
    emergancy exit , February 16, 2011 9:42 AM
    i think the main power burners are the people who buy high end graphics cards and then use them on old displays. wasting money on power your power bill without getting the benifit of higher resolution. that and cheap power suplies. i ALLWAYS see people use the cheapest power suply that fits their needs paying the extra $15-50 dollars really pays off in the long run. i still believe that your power suply can effect your power bill more then your other equipment.

    what i got from this article is that it really pays to have a power profile schedule and making use of puting yoru computer in sleep mode when your not useing it. and useing the windows power profile "balenced" and only use the high performance profile when you are gaming/number cruncher/redering/video editing
  • 0 Hide
    adamcom25334 , February 16, 2011 9:49 AM
    Switchable Graphics - many laptops have it, but how many desktop MoBos allow for that?? None that I know of, even the ones with on-board video. Hoping that Sandy Bridge X68 will.
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