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Curbing Your GPU's Power Use: Is It Worthwhile?

A Quick Gaming Test: Medal Of Honor

Medal of Honor

To confirm what we saw in Crysis, we're also measuring performance and power consumption in Medal of Honor. In order to get comparable results between runs, we chose the opening part of the second mission, “Breaking Bagram.” It is still reflective of gameplay, and the scripted nature of the game allows for consistent results between runs. For testing purposes, we modify the game's configuration file (MOHAEngine.ini) to remove the 60 FPS cap using the changes below.


We dialed-in the game’s settings to High quality (4x MSAA and 16x AF) at a resolution of 1920x1200. We also limited testing to just the Radeon HD 6970 for this title. Fraps helped us record average and minimum frame rates, as well as log frame rate per second for the entire run.

This benchmark is not as platform-limited as the Crysis CPU Test, and it gives the Radeon HD 6970 a chance to stretch its pixel-processing power.

We see a bigger drop (32%) in performance here after our modifications. However, the game is still very playable with fluid frame rates at around 70 FPS. For those who are concerned about minimum frame rates, again, that’s not a problem. Take a look at the graph below.

The graph shows that, out of the entire run, the card only drops below 40 FPS once, which is very likely related to streaming game data from the hard drive.

Power consumption in UVD mode is about 30 to 60 watts lower, depending on the numbers you're looking at. With lowered clocks and voltages, the card's energy use is not that different from what we saw earlier with Crysis.

It is, naturally, higher at the card’s stock settings, so it's only natural we're seeing greater power savings as well. For that 32% drop in frame rate, we curb power consumption by 29 to 32%. That's very close to a 1:1 ratio.

  • hokkdawg
    Dude, I'm now feeling a sudden urge to watch The Matrix!
  • I think, considering those people using SLi and crossfire and higher end videocards, they don't really give a gat about how much elec. they are using. They can afford to buy two expensive PCBs, why would they care about extra 5~10 bucks per month? If poeple are focused on lower power consumption, they would go for lower performance components, arent they?
  • anttonij
    I guess the most important point of this review is that you can lower the cards voltage while running at stock speed. For example I'm running my GTX 460 (stock 675/1800@1.012V) at 777/2070@0.975V or if I wanted to use the stock speeds, I could lower the voltage to 0.875V. I've also lowered the fan speeds to allow the card to run almost silently even at full load.
  • Khimera2000
    @.@ there is no apple @.@

    This is neat though :) I wonder if this article might inspire someone to make an application. Come on open source dont fail me now >.
  • Could you do comparison of "the fastest VC" vs "entry level" and then show us how much money we might end up paying each month or day?
  • the_krasno
    Manufacturers should find a way to implement this automatically, imagine the possibilities!
  • wrxchris

    I have 2 gfx cards pushing 3 displays, but I'm all for saving watts wherever I can. Our society has advanced to the point where sustainability is a very important buzzword that is widely ignored by mainstream media and many corporations, and this ignorance trickles down to the mainstream like Reaganomics. Minuscule reductions such as 30w savings across hundreds of thousands if not millions of users adds up to a significant reduction in carcinogenic emissions and saves valuable resources for future consumption.
  • delinius
    Holy crap, I watched the Matrix again just before this topic was posted..
  • neiroatopelcc
    So when playing video, you risk your amd card going into uvd mode? What models does that apply to?
    I want to know, cause for instance in a raid, I'd sometimes watch video content on another screen while waiting around for whatever there is to wait for. I already lose the crossfire performance because of window mode. I don't want to lose even more.

    Does my ancient 4870x2 support uvd?
  • jestersage
    so... for the dual bios HD6900s, I can RBE one bios with my desired settings and just choose which bios to use before I power up my PC? hmmm... interesting.