The Power Saving Guide

Graphics Card

The following table lists the system power requirements when using several popular graphics cards. These results were obtained with a different motherboard than the one listed in our test setup, but the difference is clearly in the single-digit range and thus negligible. 2D reflects the power draw under Windows, while 3D represents the power requirements when running 3DMark06.

System Power Draw (W) 2D 3D
GeForce 8800 GTX SLI 244.5 435
GeForce 8800 GTX 164 258
GeForce 8800 GTS (640 MB) SLI 222 350
GeForce 8800 GTS (640 MB) 136.5 208
MSI GeForce 8800 GTS (320 MB) OC SLI 219 355
MSI GeForce 8800 GTS (320 MB) OC 132 204
GeForce 8800 GTS (320 MB) SLI 219 344
GeForce 8800 GTS (320 MB) 130.5 200
GeForce 8600 GTS (256 MB) 96 147
GeForce 7950 GX2 SLI 190.5 330
GeForce 7950 GX2 125 207
GeForce 7600 GT SLI 122.5 192
GeForce 7600 GT 89 131
GeForce 6800 GT SLI 163 265
GeForce 6800 GT 108 166
Radeon HD2900 XT CF 215 471
Radeon HD2900 XT 142 285
Radeon X1950 XTX CF 134.5 340
Radeon X1950 XTX 103 228
Radeon X1900 XT (256 MB) CF 131 328
Radeon X1900 XT (256 MB) 103 220
Radeon X1900 GT 104.5 198
Radeon X1300 XT CF 112 192
Radeon X1300 XT 92.5 152
Radeon X850 XT 101.5 189

Check list:

  • If you want to save energy, select a graphics card that offers both adequate performance and acceptable idle (2D) power requirements.
  • Do not use a discrete graphics cards in favor of a platform with integrated graphics if you want to minimize power requirements and heat dissipation.

Savings: The idle power requirements differ tremendously whether you run integrated graphics or a powerful discrete graphics card. Simple graphics cards consume as little as 25 W while high-end models require at least 40 W, whether they are active or not.


When we talk about system power requirements of 60 to several hundred Watts, this number never includes the display! We already mentioned it: Turn everything off that you don't need. CRT monitors at 19" and up require at least 100 W; TFT displays start at 25 W and may go up all the way to 50 W, depending on the screen size. Power users tend to use two displays, while some people like our Webmasters even use three, which effectively can make your displays the real power eaters in the system. All displays are capable of going into a power saving mode, which reduces the power requirements to only a few Watts.

Check List:

  • Use power saving options to put displays in standby mode when they're not needed (especially if you have more than one display).
  • Switch off displays when you leave for the night.
  • Use smaller displays instead of multiple smaller displays.

Savings: This largely depends on the type of display. Since the display(s) typically are responsible for 20-30% of the system power draw, switching them off when they're not needed saves considerable energy.

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