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AMD FirePro W8100 Review: The Professional Radeon R9 290

How We Test Power Consumption

Test Equipment and Test Procedure

Our power consumption test setup was planned in cooperation with HAMEG (Rohde & Schwarz) to yield accurate measurements at small sampling intervals, and we've improved the gear continuously over the past few months.

AMD’s PowerTune and Nvidia’s GPU Boost technologies introduce significant changes to loading, requiring professional measurement and testing technology if you want accurate results. With this in mind, we're complementing our regular numbers with a series of benchmarks using an extraordinarily short range of 100 μs, with a 1 μs sampling rate. We get this accuracy from a 500 MHz digital storage oscilloscope (HAMEG HMO 3054), while measuring currents and voltages with the convenience of a remote control.

The measurements are captured by three high-resolution current probes (HAMEG HZ050), not only through a riser card for the 3.3 and 12 V rails (which was custom-built to fit our needs, supports PCIe 3.0, and offers short signal paths), but also directly from specially-modified auxiliary power cables.

Voltages are measured from a power supply with a single +12 V rail. We're using a 2 ms resolution for the standard readings, which is granular enough to reflect changes from PowerTune and GPU Boost. Because this yields so much raw data, though, we keep the range limited to two minutes per chart.

Measurement ProcedureContact-free DC measurement at PCIe slot (using a riser card)Contact-free DC measurement at external auxiliary power supply cableVoltage measurement at power supply
Measurement Equipment1 x HAMEG HMO 3054, 500 MHz digital multi-channel oscilloscope 3 x HAMEG HZO50 current probes (1 mA - 30 A, 100 kHz, DC) 4 x HAMEG HZ355 (10:1 probes, 500 MHz) 1 x HAMEG HMC 8012 digital multimeter with storage function

A Lot Can Happen in 100 Milliseconds...

...and we mean a lot! Let’s take a look at an analysis of all three voltage rails using a 2 ms sample across 100 ms (giving us 50 data points). Looking at those results makes us pity the power supply.

The information we're collecting is interesting enough that we make full use of the oscilloscope’s storage to achieve an even more exact picture of each card's real power consumption.