MSI Radeon HD 6970 Lightning review

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Hardware Installation | Power Consumption

Hardware installation

Installation of any of the AMD Radeon cards is really easy. Once the card is seated into the PC make sure you hook up the monitor and of course any external power connectors like 6 and/or 8-pin PEG power connectors. Preferably get yourself a power supply that has these PCIe PEG connectors native (we feel that converting them from a Molex Peripheral connector anno 2010 is a no-go).

Once done, we boot into Windows, install the latest ATI Catalyst drivers and after a reboot all should be working. No further configuration is required or needed unless you like to tweak setting, for which you can open the Catalyst Control Center.

MSI R6970 Lightning

Power Consumption

Let's have a look at how much power draw we measure with this graphics card installed.

The methodology: We have a device constantly monitoring the power draw from the PC. We simply stress the GPU, not the processor. The before and after wattage will tell us roughly how much power a graphics card is consuming under load.

Note: As of lately, there has been a lot of discussion 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.

Our test system is based on a power hungry Core i7 965 / X58 system. This setup is overclocked to 3.75 GHz. Next to that we have energy saving functions disabled for this motherboard and processor (to ensure consistent benchmark results). 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.

We'll be calculating the GPU power consumption here, not the total PC power consumption.

Measured power consumption

  1. System in IDLE = 178W
  2. System Wattage with GPU in FULL Stress = 351W
  3. Difference (GPU load) = 173W
  4. Add average IDLE wattage ~ 20W
  5. Subjective obtained GPU power consumption = ~ 193 Watts
Power consumption  TDP in KWh KWh price 2 hrs day 4 hrs dayGraphics card measured TDP 0,193 0,23 0,09 0,18         Cost 5 days per week / 4 hrs day 0,89      Cost per Month 3,85      Cost per Year 5 days week / 4 hrs day / 46,17      Cost per Year 5 days week / 4 hrs day / $ $ 60,94      

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

Let's chart up some results compared to other graphics cards.

Above, a chart of relative power consumption. Due to the fact that we scrapped all FurMark results we are re-measuring all temp/dba/power tests with the new stress software. Again the Wattage displayed are the cards with the GPU(s) stressed 100%, showing only the GPU power draw, not the entire PC.

Here is Guru3D's power supply recommendation:

  • Radeon HD 6970 Lightning 2GB - On your average system the card requires you to have a 550 Watt power supply unit.

If you are going to overclock CPU or processor, then we do recommend you purchase something with some more stamina.

There are many good PSUs out there, please do have a look at our many PSU reviews as we have loads of recommended PSUs 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
  • freezing during gameplay
  • PSU overload can cause it to break down

Let's move to the next page where we'll look into GPU heat levels and noise levels coming from this graphics card.

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