Rather than our typical idle and Prime95/FurMark load consumption data, for this series, we decided that the single most important number would be the maximum consumption seen while gaming. The highest power consumption recorded was seen in GTA IV, but because the Radeon HD 4850 could not run this test due to its 512MB frame buffer, we used the close runner-up Crysis.
Perhaps the first thing you’ll notice here is the Phenom II X2 550 BE consistently consumed more power than the Phenom II X3 720 BE while gaming. This trend was true throughout all the benchmarks, and not just in Crysis.
The GeForce GTX 260 doesn’t consume too many more watts than the Radeon HD 4850, while generally offering a significant boost in performance. Big performance does come at the expense of big power consumption and heat. The GeForce GTX 295 consumes less wattage than the Radeon HD 4870 X2, but often requires a more powerful (and power-consuming) CPU to shine in performance tests.