In our GTX 480 reviews we noted that power consumption went up quite a bit once the reference ventilator started to spin harder (higher RPM). As such we were curious as to the fact whether or not we'd see a decrease in power consumption with that cooler removed.
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. Bear in mind that you are not looking at the power consumption of the graphics card, but the consumption of the entire PC.
Our test system is a power hungry 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). I'd say on average we are using roughly 50 to 100 Watts more than a standard PC due to higher CPU clock settings, water-cooling, additional cold cathode lights etc.
Here's what puzzles me... adding liquid cooling (pump + two 120mm fans) should use more power than one cooler on the GTX 480 right?
Well, the end result is that we are consuming LESS power on water-cooling. Two things are responsible for that, the colder GPU (better conducting) and thus that reference cooler.
Check it out:Setup IDLE WATTS FULL WATTSGeForce GTX 480 203 428GTX 480 Liquid Cooled 201 412GTX 480 Liquid Cooled 900c|1800s|4400m 215 506
Now granted it's not a lot. But yeah... we are using 16 Watts less all of a sudden. Overclocked obviously changes that and the card starts to consume much more current quickly, but that's also because we overclocked rather insanely and added the voltage tweak.