Gigabyte GeForce GTX 260 SO review -
Setup | Noise | Power consumption | Heat levels
Setting up the PC
Installing the card into your system will be a pretty easy job. Just slide the card into a free PCIe slot, connect the DVI cable, connect both 6-pin connectors to the card. I do recommend you to buy a decent PSU with some reserves, always. The PSU is an extremely important component in your PC.
Once the card is installed we startup windows. We install our driver, reboot and that was it. The card will work straight out of the box, no additional configuration is needed.
We'll now show you some tests we have done on overall power consumption of the PC. Looking at it from a performance versus wattage point of view, the power consumption is not as bad as I expected it to be. The card according to NVIDIA has a TDP of roughly 182 Watts.
The methodology is simple: We have a device constantly monitoring the power draw from the PC. After we have run all our tests and benchmarks we look at the recorded maximum peak; and that's the bulls-eye you need to observe as the power peak is extremely important. Bare in mind that you are not looking at the power consumption of the graphics card, but the consumption of the entire PC.
The new test PC is based on 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 also allows adding power phases for stability, which we enabled as well. I'd say in total on average we are using roughly 50 to 100 Watts more than a standard PC due to these high-end settings and then add to that the CPU overclock, water-cooling, UV lights, optical drive and HDDs. Keep that in mind.
Our normal system power consumption is higher than the average system.
- PC in Idle = 234 Watt
- PC 100% usage (wattage gaming Peak) = 404 Watt
The monitoring device is reporting a maximum system wattage peak at roughly 400 Watts.
Recommended Power Supply
So what does that mean in terms of power distribution inside your PC ? Well, here's our power supply recommendation:
GeForce GTX 260
- A GeForce GTX 260 requires you to have a 550 Watt power supply unit at minimum if you use it in a high-end system. That power supply needs to have (in total accumulated) at least 40 Amps available on the 12 volts rails.
GeForce GTX 260 SLI
- A second GeForce GTX 260 requires you to have a 700 Watt power supply unit at minimum if you use it in a high-end system. That power supply needs to have (in total accumulated) at least 50 Amps available on the 12 volts rails.
There are many good PSU's out there, please do have a look at our many PSU reviews as we have loads of recommended PSU's for you to check out in there. What would 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
Noise Levels coming from the graphics card
When graphics cards produce a lot of heat, usually that heat 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 all cards on dBA levels. Obviously the reference coolers all perform roughly the same. The customized coolers are either louder or softer depending on what they try to achieve.
- So in IDLE mode, you will not hear the card. We measure less than 38 dBA coming from the PC.
- Gaming with an average title not stressing the GPU too much we can't even hear the fan, we measure roughly 39 dBA.
- When we loop FurMark for a while the GPU heats up, as side-effect the fan RPM will go up even higher, the noise-levels are still 40 dBA.
All in all, this is one of the most impressive coolers we have ever seen on a GPU. It's virtually inaudible. But does it perform well ?
The core temperature
Let's have a look at the temperatures this huge cooler offers.
We fire off that hefty shader application at the GPU again and start monitoring temperature behavior as it would mid-gaming, we literally stress the GPU 100% here. We measured at a set 21 degrees C room-temperature.
Now a couple of things are interesting here. First of you an see the P-states we discussed earlier, these will save you energy. In 2D mode the GPU tries to save power by lowering clocks & voltages, therefore running at a much lower core frequency. The minute we fire off our shader application at the GPU the 3D mode activates and sets the default clocks to what they should be.
In idle (GPU hardly doing anything) you can expect a temperature of ~44 degrees C / 111F, that's just really good. Once we push the GPU to 100%, the temperatures rises and settles at ~87 Degrees C / 122F, which was a little higher than expected.
Please make sure you PC chassis is well ventilated.
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