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Gaming Power Consumption

Partner Cards: Two Radeon R9 290s And Five 290Xs, Updated
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Benchmark System And Procedure

We collaborated with HAMEG (Rohde & Schwarz) to upgrade our power consumption measurement system.

We record all channels and the corresponding oscilloscope value/curves for our measurements. The very precise and, more important, fast current clamps yield 100 mV/A, making it easy to calculate the power based on the voltage. We also record the supply voltage to multiply its value with the recorded amperage. Depending on the resolution we choose, this procedure yields a very detailed power consumption history. We generally set this to 1 ms, allowing us to capture all fluctuations attributable to AMD’s PowerTune or Nvidia’s GPU Boost technology.

Tom's Hardware Power Measurement - 1 Loop Metro Last Light - 1ms Power Draw

Measurement ProcedureNon-Contact Direct Current Measurement at the PCIe Slot
Non-Contact Direct Current Measurement at the External PCIe Power Supply
Direct Voltage Measurement 3.3 V / 12 V
Measurement Apparatus

Oscilloscope:
HAMEG HMO1024 Four-Channel Digital Oscilloscope with Memory and Ethernet Remote Control

Power Clamp:
HAMEG HZO50 (1 mA-30 A, 100 kHz DC, Resolution 1 mA)

Voltage Divider Probe:
HAMEG HZ154 (1:1, 1:10), Assorted Adapters

Digital Multimeter:
HAMEG HMC8012

Bench TableMicrocool Banchetto 101
Test Hardware

AMD FX-8350 (Piledriver), Overclocked to 4.5 GHz

Corsair H100i Compact Water Cooling Solution

16 GB (2 x 8) Corsair Vengeance DDR3-1866

Asus 990FX Sabertooth + Modified PCIe Adapter with Current Loops
Power SupplyCorsair AX860i with Modified Plugs (Pickup)

Power Consumption While Running A Gaming Loop

"How much power does a graphics card draw during gaming?" and "How much heat does it generate under load?" are the most commonly asked questions once we wrap up our analysis of 3D performance. Our testing is made as real-world as possible by measuring cards that have already been warmed up.

This high-resolution measurement shows why power supplies can be overwhelmed unless they have ample output headroom. Even if a PSU's specs suggest it should be able to handle a given card, some very brief (often less than 10 ms), but very high peaks can cause a power supply's protection circuitry to engage.

Power Consumption: Radeon R9 290

Power Consumption: Radeon R9 290X

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Top Comments
  • 17 Hide
    FormatC , January 27, 2014 12:29 AM
    Quote:
    all that rage against AMD

    I would like to know this more precisely please... I can't found any rage in my articles, only a chip with a very high temperature density and a lot of unusable coolers because the engineers were not able to build a matching cooler for this cards. This high density will be a global problem for all next-gen chips too. Without a vapor chamber this won't work.
  • 12 Hide
    outlw6669 , January 27, 2014 12:54 AM
    Good job on the review Tom's German team and great work from AMD's partners!

    Coupled with other recent reviews, Sapphire's Tri-X OC series looks to be great cards, especially when you make a custom fan curve to further reduce idle and load noise.
    I can not wait to see the 20nm updates, especially if AMD gets around to pulling a Titan with their reference coolers!
  • 11 Hide
    roymustang , January 27, 2014 2:34 AM
    The main problem with the 290 and 290X isn't the cooling, it's the fact that bitcoin and litecoin miners have driven the price of these cards up by $100-150; to the point where they are no longer a good deal at all.I was waiting for the custom cooled 290s to come out to upgrade my GTX 670 but now I may just wait for the next cards and maybe stick with nVidia.
Other Comments
  • 0 Hide
    yannigr , January 27, 2014 12:22 AM
    You can write as many articles as you want about 290/290X coolers. You can write as many excuses as you want. You can continue reminding us that there was/is a problem with Hawaii every 15 days for the whole 2014. That "victory dance" that "excitement" that you found(?) AMD cheating(?) back then, all that rage against AMD, can not be unwritten.
  • 17 Hide
    FormatC , January 27, 2014 12:29 AM
    Quote:
    all that rage against AMD

    I would like to know this more precisely please... I can't found any rage in my articles, only a chip with a very high temperature density and a lot of unusable coolers because the engineers were not able to build a matching cooler for this cards. This high density will be a global problem for all next-gen chips too. Without a vapor chamber this won't work.
  • 12 Hide
    outlw6669 , January 27, 2014 12:54 AM
    Good job on the review Tom's German team and great work from AMD's partners!

    Coupled with other recent reviews, Sapphire's Tri-X OC series looks to be great cards, especially when you make a custom fan curve to further reduce idle and load noise.
    I can not wait to see the 20nm updates, especially if AMD gets around to pulling a Titan with their reference coolers!
  • 6 Hide
    rdc85 , January 27, 2014 1:13 AM
    It's here!! I'm been waiting for this review... going to read (twice) now..
  • 9 Hide
    FormatC , January 27, 2014 1:16 AM
    I will add in the next days more cards like Gigabyte's R9 290 (without X), the MSI R9 290X and something other (secret) :) 
  • 1 Hide
    rdc85 , January 27, 2014 1:40 AM
    I think this card is made/means to be WC -ed..... 290 in Kraken looks promising.. (trying imagine how good if in full water block, good radiator)
  • 11 Hide
    roymustang , January 27, 2014 2:34 AM
    The main problem with the 290 and 290X isn't the cooling, it's the fact that bitcoin and litecoin miners have driven the price of these cards up by $100-150; to the point where they are no longer a good deal at all.I was waiting for the custom cooled 290s to come out to upgrade my GTX 670 but now I may just wait for the next cards and maybe stick with nVidia.
  • 5 Hide
    Phillip Wager , January 27, 2014 4:43 AM
    i want so badly the 290 to go back to 400 bucks cuz that is like my hard limit on a video card ive been waiting but i don't think i can wait much longer and i guess i'll just get a 770. i'm even willing to put up with the reference coolers bah.
  • 5 Hide
    hytecgowthaman , January 27, 2014 4:43 AM
    Sapphire wins in this competition now !!!
  • 3 Hide
    patrick47018 , January 27, 2014 5:13 AM
    "You can see this in the image below, where two of the heat pipes don't **tough** Hawaii at all, and two others make partial contact. " Spelling mistake, on topic I like the Sapphire Toxic's design and performance.
  • 4 Hide
    bustapr , January 27, 2014 6:02 AM
    yes, bitcoin miners made these cards prices skyrocket. its really made these cards non viable upgrade for some compared to the competitions cards. which is a pain since these were the best cards at launch. Either bitcoin prices crash or nvidia comes up with a competitor to GCN. these prices are getting ridiculous.
  • 8 Hide
    Jan Mortensen , January 27, 2014 6:33 AM
    The Price is still steady here in Denmark...But with 25% VAT this just mean that now you guys are getting to pay European prices for once ;) 
  • 2 Hide
    iknowhowtofixit , January 27, 2014 6:55 AM
    The only place I could find the G10 GPU bracket for sale is on NZXT's website: https://store.nzxt.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=RL-KRG10

    It is nice that a company has paid attention and we have a solution that doesn't involve a series of carefully engineered zip ties...
  • 3 Hide
    cpm1984 , January 27, 2014 7:12 AM
    The peak power draws on these cards are scary (way over 300 watts!) but they only last 1-2 milliseconds. Does the PSU have to be rated to handle the peak levels or just the average power draw under peak load?
  • 6 Hide
    FormatC , January 27, 2014 7:28 AM
    Quote:
    The peak power draws on these cards are scary (way over 300 watts!) but they only last 1-2 milliseconds. Does the PSU have to be rated to handle the peak levels or just the average power draw under peak load?


    A good PSU has a lot of primary caps inside to compensate this peaks without any problem. The question should better be: What's about the life-span of this caps under this conditions? This is one of the reasons to buy a PSU with good and not with so-called "bad" caps. If you buy cheap you buy twice... ;) 

    But Nvidia is not much better. I've checked this in another article:



  • 0 Hide
    patrick47018 , January 27, 2014 7:30 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    The peak power draws on these cards are scary (way over 300 watts!) but they only last 1-2 milliseconds. Does the PSU have to be rated to handle the peak levels or just the average power draw under peak load?


    A good PSU has a lot of primary caps inside to compensate this peaks without any problem. The question should better be: What's about the life-span of this caps under this conditions?

    But Nvidia is not much better. I've checked this in another article:




    FormatC your avatar gave me cancer...
  • 3 Hide
    FormatC , January 27, 2014 7:33 AM
    Quote:
    FormatC your avatar gave me cancer...


    Ok, use 8x MSAA to prevent you before edge flares :D 
  • -1 Hide
    cpm1984 , January 27, 2014 7:47 AM
    The peak power draws on these cards are scary (way over 300 watts!) but they only last 1-2 milliseconds. Does the PSU have to be rated to handle the peak levels or just the average power draw under peak load?
  • 4 Hide
    vmem , January 27, 2014 9:14 AM
    All I can say is "I think NZXT is onto something here with a $30 Kraken add-on"
  • 0 Hide
    Cirdan87 , January 27, 2014 9:49 AM
    The graph for the Asus 290x temperature doesn't appear to match the tables. The graph shows a peak temp for gaming of around 76 degrees, while your table says it was 85 degrees. Is this an error?
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