What Do High-End Graphics Cards Cost In Terms Of Electricity?

Conclusion And Summary

Although it is alright every now and then to splurge and buy the best there is, this kind of self-indulgence (combined with heavy utilization) is bad news for the electricity bill. While the enthusiast might enjoy limited doses of pixel delicacies on a regular basis and remain rather financially viable, the hardcore gamer with his or her permanent power consumption could noticeably be punished by the electricity companies.

The average user should stay away from high-end graphics cards altogether, because even if those products increase the potential of what can be rendered, the cards remain underutilized most of the time. Even though power consumption remains rather low (due to the amount of time spent idle), the electricity money is still wasted.

Those who decide to get a high-performance graphics card should be aware of the added costs. It is just like buying a car: even if you have just enough money for a Porsche, tires, gas, insurance, and taxes still have to be paid. And if that makes things a bit tighter, driving is less fun.

The differences between the various card categories are extreme at intensive utilization levels. With this brief analysis, we want to give you a point of entry and a notion on how to balance the required performance and costs through power consumption. Above all, gamers should avoid meaninglessly oversized graphics cards, as in the end, this is only good for the electricity companies. So think and calculate before you buy!

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  • alikum
    Nvidia cards consume power like crazy
  • damric
    I don't get it. Are they saying that a GTX 480 will cost a hard core gamer $90/year in electricity? Seems like a drop in the bucket considering my power bills are over $90/month in the winter and over $250/month in the summer. Just think of all the money the hard core gamer saves from not having a girlfriend :D
  • scook9
    They are also neglecting the positive side effects like not needing a space heater in the winter....you recoup alot of energy right there :D
  • porksmuggler
    ^Tell me about it, warmest room in the house right here. Turn the thermostat down, and boot the rig up.

    Typo on the enthusiast graph. calculations are correct, but it should be 13ct/kWh, not 22ct/kWh.
  • jimslaid2
    Glad I bought the 6870 over the gtx 460 1g
  • aznshinobi
    The fact that you mentioned a porsche. no matter what the context. I love that you mentioned it :D
  • AMW1011
    So at worst, my GTX 480 is costing me $90 a year? Sorry if I'm not alarmed...

    Also I can't imagine having 8 hours of gaming time every day. 5 hours even seems extreme. Sometimes, you just can't game AT ALL in a day, or a week.

    Some people do have lives...
  • nebun
    alikumNvidia cards consume power like crazy

    who cares....if you have the money to buy them you can pay for the electricity...it's just like SUVs, you have the money to buy them you can keep them running
  • nebun
    AMW1011So at worst, my GTX 480 is costing me $90 a year? Sorry if I'm not alarmed...Also I can't imagine having 8 hours of gaming time every day. 5 hours even seems extreme. Sometimes, you just can't game AT ALL in a day, or a week.Some people do have lives...

    i run my 480 sli rig to fold almost 24/7...do i care about my bill...HELL NO
  • Darkerson
    Very nice article! Keep it up!
  • Kodiack
    Your enthusiastic profiles aren't all that enthusiastic. :( I'm sure my Radeon 5970+5870 tri-CrossFire combination will cost me quite a few dollars over the months. Fortunately, I've got some pretty good power-saving features in use to lighten the pain.
  • ohseus
    I;d be curious to see a toaster, a microwave,a light bulb or ceiling fan (some thing of hat sort) added the power consumption list for comparisons sake.
  • eddieroolz
    A very interesting article. I only game once every few days if at all now, so I guess it makes sense for me to stay with my GTS 250 for now.

    By the way, space heater ftw!
  • compton
    It would be really useful to know what a folding setup running 24/7 costs. Perhaps one day you could use it to get a "Folding for the Future" tax credit on the books. Maybe Toms can lead the lobbying effort in Washington.

    Compared to the 4000w, 240v industrial space heater I was using over Christmas, my computer will have to work all year to match the utility cost.

    I second "space heater ftw!"
  • pinkfloydminnesota
    Great article. I hope you can somehow include these costs in reviews as electricity costs go higher and video cards get more powerful.

    I am able to lower the heat in my Minnesota corner room tx to the pc on the floor and the screens on the desk!
  • sudeshc
    absolutely right that if you can buy them you can run them.
  • 39$ / year? Why an article about it? Lobbying?
  • liquidsnake718
    Yes! Score for my (now og) 5850!!!!!!!!!!!! What about in crossfire though?
  • emergancy exit
    i think the main power burners are the people who buy high end graphics cards and then use them on old displays. wasting money on power your power bill without getting the benifit of higher resolution. that and cheap power suplies. i ALLWAYS see people use the cheapest power suply that fits their needs paying the extra $15-50 dollars really pays off in the long run. i still believe that your power suply can effect your power bill more then your other equipment.

    what i got from this article is that it really pays to have a power profile schedule and making use of puting yoru computer in sleep mode when your not useing it. and useing the windows power profile "balenced" and only use the high performance profile when you are gaming/number cruncher/redering/video editing
  • adamcom25334
    Switchable Graphics - many laptops have it, but how many desktop MoBos allow for that?? None that I know of, even the ones with on-board video. Hoping that Sandy Bridge X68 will.
  • demonhorde665
    while your calculatiosna re good and all , you compeltely forget to list what area, power company , and lind of power tech they use. in other words the cost you come up with is only good for people using your power company that uses what ever emans of power they can. peopel indifernt areas get charged different rates , for instance people in an area getting hydro eleitric power , (like from a dam) or nuclear fission reactor power , tend to have much lwoer bills that say some one that is using apower company that is burning fossil fuels such as coal plus keep in mind also , the cost of living in teh north east part of teh states is generally much higher than the cost of living down in missisippi or texas. piont being note very one is going to pay what you list to run thier high end graphics , still nice article though it gives us a starting point for estimating the cost in other areas (if we know where you are located that is)
  • demonhorde665
    p.s. LOL well great article but really can't apply it to me after i read the part about how you avaeraged work days in , i'm in school for game art design and even on days i'm swamped in work , my video card is getting pushed running 3ds max view ports or the even rougher UDK view ports ( i say they are are roughier because 3ds max view ports only show basic geometry and none of the higher end render techs (those get rendered when you hit the render button and they are rendered off the cpu not gpu), while UDK blows the perspective view port up with full in game shaders , lighting and effects in real time.
  • shin0bi272
    I like how in the interim conclusion for the "normal user" they say to buy a midrange card to save money on power... cause 20 a year for the 580 is gonna break the bank right? You guys really missed the boat when it came to common sense didnt you? If I buy a 600 dollar video card and play lets say 2 hours a day that's not going to cause my power bill to go up as much as the fact that my apartment complex will not replace my livingroom window which has a 1/4" gap between the two panes.
  • orodreth
    Power consumption should be part of every review and side-by-side comparison for video cards and is just as important as your temperature evaluations. For a dedicated gaming rig, max it out. But for average use or an HTPC, the cost of power adds up over time. Great article!