ECS GeForce GTS 250 1024MB review | test -
Setup | Noise | Power consumption | Heat levels
Setup and Installation
Installing the card into your system will be a fairly easy job. Just slide the card into a free PCIe slot, connect the monitor one of the connectors, connect the 6-pin power connector to the card. Only one 6-pin power converter is included, so your PSU needs to have at least one 6-pin connector at standard.
That PSU is an extremely important component in your PC. We'll get into that in a minute though.
Once the card is installed we startup Windows. We install our driver, reboot and you should be good to go. The card will work straight out of the box.
We'll now show you some tests we have done on overall power consumption of the PC.
The methodology is simple: We have a device constantly monitoring the power draw from the PC. We look at the recorded maximum WATT peak; and that's the bulls-eye you need to observe as the power peak is extremely important. Bear in mind that you are not looking at the power consumption of the graphics card, but the consumption of the entire PC. From a performance versus wattage point of view, the power consumption is pretty good with the new 55nm products.
Sidenote: we recently upgraded our test-platform, which by itself utilizes a lot of energy.
It's Core i7 965 / X58 based and overclocked to 3.75 GHz. Next to that we have energy saving functions disabled for this motherboard and processor (to ensure consistent benchmark results).
The ASUS motherboard allows adding power phases for stability, which we enabled as well. When you take everything into account, I'd say on average we are using roughly 50 to 100 Watts more than a standard PC due to these settings and added CPU overclock. Keep that in mind. Our normal system power consumption is much higher than your average system.
- System in IDLE = ~216 Watts
- System with GPU in FULL Stress = ~353 Watts
Power consumption is on par with any modern mid-range graphics card.
In my view the card series requires you to have a 500 Watt power supply unit at minimum if you use it in a high-end system, and I think that's barely on the safe side. Also recommended is 32 AMPs on the 12 volt rails for stable power distribution (on a single card configuration). Notice that the card uses 6-pin power connectors. There are many good PSUs available, over the years we reviewed a lot of them and have loads of recommended PSUs for you to check out in there, have a look. Things that can happen if your PSU can't cope with the load?:
- bad 3D performance
- crashing games
- spontaneous reset or imminent shutdown of the PC
- freezes during gameplay
- PSU overload can cause it to break down
The thermal envelope
Let's have a look at the temperatures these cards produce. We measure at a room temperature of 21-22 Degrees C, look at the idle temperature and then load the GPU 100% for a couple of minutes and measure the temperature once a second and follow the temperature delta.
The GeForce GTS 250 as a dual slot product will show pretty decent temperatures due to the nature of the Arctic Cooling solution equipped on it.
Temperatures will idle as low as 34 degrees C (93F) with an 72 degrees C (162 F) load temperature. That is fairly impressive, mind you that we stress the GPU with FurMark, it won't get much worse than that software wise. That piece of software is a GPUs worst freakish nightmare.
Though the design of the cooler will push hot air out of your PC, obviously, always make sure you have a very well ventilated PC.
Noise Levels coming from the graphics card
When graphics cards produce a lot of heat, that heat usually needs to be transported away from the hot core as fast as possible. Often you'll see massive active fan solutions that can indeed get rid of the heat, yet all the fans these days make the PC a noisy son of a gun. I'm doing a little try-out today with noise monitoring, so basically the test we do is extremely subjective. We bought a certified dBA meter and will start measuring how many dBA originate from the PC. Why is this subjective, you ask? Well, there is always noise in the background, from the streets, from the HD, PSU fan etc etc, so this is by a mile or two not a precise measurement. You could only achieve objective measurement in a sound test chamber.
The human hearing system has different sensitivities at different frequencies. This means that the perception of noise is not at all equal at every frequency. Noise with significant measured levels (in dB) at high or low frequencies will not be as annoying as it would be when its energy is concentrated in the middle frequencies. In other words, the measured noise levels in dB will not reflect the actual human perception of the loudness of the noise. That's why we measure the dBa level. A specific circuit is added to the sound level meter to correct its reading in regard to this concept. This reading is the noise level in dBA. The letter A is added to indicate the correction that was made in the measurement. Frequencies below 1kHz and above 6kHz are attenuated, where as frequencies between 1kHz and 6kHz are amplified by the A weighting.
|TYPICAL SOUND LEVELS|
|Jet takeoff (200 feet)||120 dBA|
|Construction Site||110 dBA||Intolerable|
|Shout (5 feet)||100 dBA|
|Heavy truck (50 feet)||90 dBA||Very noisy|
|Urban street||80 dBA|
|Automobile interior||70 dBA||Noisy|
|Normal conversation (3 feet)||60 dBA|
|Office, classroom||50 dBA||Moderate|
|Living room||40 dBA|
|Bedroom at night||30 dBA||Quiet|
|Broadcast studio||20 dBA|
|Rustling leaves||10 dBA||Barely audible|
We test the card in dBA levels.
- So in IDLE mode, you will not hear the card. We measure 39 dBA coming from the PC.
- Gaming with an average title not stressing the GPU too much we can hear the fan a little, we measure roughly 39 dBA.
- When we loop 3DMark Vantage for a while the GPU really heats up then tried a little FurMArk, as a side-effect the fan RPM will go up even higher, the noise-levels are now 43 dBA.
Overall we feel the cooler is reasonably okay, though with the GPU under heavy stress and thus heat, it will become noisy and audible.
The GeForce GTX 560 we'll review in this article comes from ECS, out of the three products GTX 560 tested today here on Guru3D.com this one is reference clocked, has a reference design and a reference cooler. So this product will be the baseline performance product. Now that does not mean a sober product contrary, baseline performance is pretty good for the money. And next to that, we all know you'll gain the most from the less expensive products one you go and tweak them.
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