Power, Temperature, And Noise
Power draw, thermal performance, and acoustic output should all be important factors to consider as you choose between different variations on the same graphics processor.
In order to gauge power use, we used a Kill A Watt meter at the wall during our Battlefield 3 testing.
The blue bars represent idle power consumption compared to a Radeon HD 5450, the green bars reflect power consumption under load, and the black bars indicate peak overclocked power use.
Each step of the way, our results reflect clock rates and voltage settings, yielding little in the way of surprises.
Our thermal measurements were also taken during Battlefield 3 testing and logged with GPU-Z and MSI's Afterburner utility.
The temperature differences between these cards compared to ambient is fairly similar overall. Zotac's offering is the outlier, perhaps as a direct result of the highest default voltage setting. We would have expected those numbers to even out once we overvolted the other cards to similar levels, however, that's not the case, and Zotac's thermal reading remains significantly higher. In contrast, MSI’s Twin Frozr II performs well here.
Keep your eye on the green bars, as those represent acoustics using stock fan settings under load. Asus leads just slightly by virtue of its quieter idle noise level. Four of the cards give us the exact same load reading, though, which is pretty impressive given the range of different cooling implementations. Zotac's card again returns louder-than-anticipated results as its fans push to keep those higher thermal readings down.