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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.

[Engine.GameEngine]
bSmoothFrameRate=False
MinSmoothedFrameRate=1
MaxSmoothedFrameRate=99

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.