GeForce GTX 580 3-way SLI review

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Power Consumption

Power Consumption

During the stress tests we measured power consumption based on the power draw from the entire PC.

Note: As of late, there has been a lot of discussion around using FurMark as a stress test to measure power load. FurMark is so malicious on the GPU that it does not represent an objective power draw compared to really hefty gaming. If we take a very-harsh-on-the-GPU gaming title, then measure power consumption and then compare the very same with FurMark, the power consumption can be 50 to 100W higher on a high-end graphics card solely because of FurMark.

After long deliberation we decided to move away from FurMark and are now using a game like application which stresses the GPU 100% yet is much more representable of power consumption and heat levels coming from the GPU. We however are not disclosing what application that is as we do not want AMD / ATI / NVIDIA to 'optimize & monitor' our stress test whatsoever, for our objective reasons of course.

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. Keep that in mind. Our normal system power consumption is a little higher than your average system. But with multi-GPU setups... well that fact fades away real fast. Check it out.

With 3-way SLI we noticed our power consumption for the cards peaked to roughly 736 Watts. As stated, our test policy has changed, the very same test with three cards on FurMark would result in a 900+ Watt power draw.

Measured power consumption

  1. System in IDLE = 272W
  2. System Wattage with GPUs in FULL Stress = 933W
  3. Difference (GPU load) = 661W
  4. Add average IDLE wattage ~ 25W x3
  5. Subjective obtained GPU power consumption = ~ 736 Watts

Mind you that the system wattage is measured from the wall socket and is for the entire PC. Below, a chart of measured Wattage for this GPU solution.

Power Consumption Cost Analysis

Based on the Wattage we can now check how much a card like today will cost you per year and per month. We charge 0,23 EUR cents (or dollars) per KWh, which is the standard here.

Graphics card TDP in KWh KWh price 2 hrs day 4 hrs day
Graphics card measured TDP 0,736 0,23 0,34 0,68
Cost 5 days per week / 4 hrs day 3,39      
Cost per Month 14,67      
Cost per Year 5 days week / 4 hrs day 176,05      

We estimate and calculate here based on four hours GPU intensive gaming per day / 5 days a week with this card.

It's the high-end game though, you can expect lots of power being consumed, that never has been any different. In fact I remember two GTX 285 cards set up in 3-way SLI consume roughly the very same, yet you have way more performance with the GTX 580s alright.

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