Setup | Noise | Power consumption | Heat levels
Setting up the PC
Right, at this stage we are going to insert and connect the graphics card into our test setup. Installing the card into your system will be a fairly easy job. Just slide the card into a free PCIe slot, connect the DVI or HDMO cable to one of the connectors, connect both the 6-pin power connectors to the card.
Especially with a high-end card like this... I do recommend you buy a decent PSU with some reserves, always. The 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 = ~224 Watts
- System with GPU in FULL Stress = ~354 Watts
- 354-224= ~130 Watt power consumption.
Performance 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 two 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 Galaxy 9800 GTX+ as a dual slot product will show pretty decent temperatures due to the nature of the cooler. Temperatures: idle 45-50 degrees C (117F) with an 80 degrees C (176 F) load temperature. Pretty close to the reference cooler really.
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 on dBA levels. Obviously the reference coolers all perform roughly the same. The customized galaxy cooler I feel is a little louder.
- So in IDLE mode, you will not hear the card. We measure 40 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 42 dBA.
- When we loop 3DMark Vantage for a while the GPU really heats up, as a side-effect the fan RPM will go up even higher, the noise-levels are now 44 dBA which definitely can be heard, but it's fine really.
So to sum it up, the fan RPM seems fixed between 1800-2800 RPM. Though it delivers sufficient cooling, at gaming levels it's slightly noisy.