Powenetics: A Better Way To Measure Power Draw for CPUs, GPUs & Storage

The Powenetics Project: What Lies Ahead

Right now, we're aware that three major hardware sites have their hands on the Powenetics system, among them Tom's Hardware (specifically, Tom's Hardware's Chris Angelini).

The idea behind this whole concept is for an increased number of GPU (and CPU/storage) reviewers to start using Powenetics, providing increased reliability and accuracy in power-consumption measurements. The more folks using the Powenetics system, the more cross-references we'll see. Moreover, as it stands today, most GPU reviewers don't measure exact graphics card power. They're instead limited to logging system power and roughly subtracting the rest of the platform's power to calculate an approximated result. This is not an ideal method. Instead, readers want to see accurate and precise information that helps them compare GPU efficiency and pick the right power supply to support their PC.

Since CPU power measurements are important as well, particularly after altering manufacturer-defined TDPs through overclocking, the enhanced version of Powenetics includes readings from up to two EPS connectors. Some CPUs do draw power from the +5V rail (in addition to the +12V one), but we're talking about a few watts, at most. What matters most in today's PSUs is the +12V rail's performance; the days when the minor rails were heavily utilized are long gone. At some point in the future, we believe that every rail except for +12V and 5VSB will be abandoned. This can be expected to improve efficiency, because the circuits responsible for generating the minor rails have a big impact on this calculation. (Just check the CL charts in one of our PSU reviews.)

Some of you might wonder why we bother to measure CPU power consumption at all, given that our readings under load typically reflect the ratings set forth by AMD or Intel at stock clock rates. Naturally, though, we want to confirm those ratings independently. Moreover, overclocking is often a big part of our evaluation and analysis. It's just as important to observe how CPUs behave after modification; this shapes our opinions of what to recommend for power users who do overclock.

The Cybenetics team plans to continue upgrading and improving its Powenetics project, so if you have any requests or suggestions, feel free to make your voice heard in the comments section!

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Disclaimer: Aris Mpitziopoulos is Tom's Hardware's PSU reviewer. He is also the Chief Testing Engineer of Cybenetics, and developed the Cybenetics certification methodologies apart from his role on Tom's Hardware. Neither Tom's Hardware nor its parent company, Purch Media, are financially involved with Cybenetics. Aris does not perform the actual certifications for Cybenetics.­

Contributing Editor

Aris Mpitziopoulos is a Contributing Editor at Tom's Hardware US, covering PSUs.