Power Consumption Overview
[EDIT] We originally posted Power Consumption Torture (GPGPU) results that showed a simulated GeForce GTX 970 reference card pulling over 240 Watts. This does not represent Nvidia's reference GeForce GTX 970 board because our data point was simulated with a Gigabyte GTX 970 card that has a non-reference ~250 Watt power target, unlike the reference board's ~150 W power target.
We have since pulled that data since it does not represent Nvidia's reference GeForce GTX 970 card. On the other hand, as far as we know there are no actual GeForce GTX 970 reference card designs for sale as each manufacturer has put their own spin on this model. None of the manufacturers we have talked to have released a GeForce GTX 970 card with a ~150 Watt power target as of this time, opting instead to give this product more performance headroom.
This is an issue we are keeping a close eye on, and we will follow up with a detailed investigation in the near future. We are curious to see if a reference-based GeForce GTX 970 will perform in the same league as the cards we have tested with higher power targets, but it would certainly make more sense in an HTPC or for use in smaller form factors. In the meantime, we have removed the 'simulated' GeForce GTX 970 data point from the following charts. [/EDIT]
Now it's time to compare our measurements to some of the other relevant graphics cards. Gigabyte's GTX 980 WindForce OC stands out yet again, especially when it comes to our idle and gaming readings. It’s amazing what a specially-selected Maxwell GPU can do.
That's not the only offering that makes a good impression, though. Nvidia's reference GeForce GTX 980 does well too, as long as you don’t focus on the idle power measurement. And the party ends as soon as you look at the compute-based stress test results. A taxing load just doesn't give Maxwell any room for its optimizations to shine.
When it comes down to it, it's possible for our most taxing workloads to take Maxwell back to Kepler-class consumption levels. In fact, Gigabyte's factory overclocked GeForce GTX 980 actually draws more power than the GeForce GTX Titan Black without offering a substantial performance gain in return. As you can see below, the reference GeForce GTX 980 draws substantially less power, though.