Sparkle GeForce 9600 GT Passive review

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4 - GPU temps, power consumption & noise 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 one 6-pin connector to the card. I do recommend you to just buy a decent stable PSU with some reserves, always.

Once the card is installed, we start up windows. We installed our driver, rebooted and that was it. The card will work straight out of the box. Just the way we like it.

Power consumption

It's time to do some actual testing with these card. We'll start off by showing you some tests we have done on overall power consumption of the PC. Looking at it from a performance versus wattage point of view.

Our test system contains a Core 2 Duo E8400 Processor @ 3.0 GHz (FSB 1333), the eVGA 680i SLI mainboard, stock cooling on the CPU, DVD-rom and a WD Raptor drive. The results:

Idle Peak
Wattage (PC total) 177 239

A fairly standard power supply will be more than sufficient for this graphics card. Any 450 Watt PSU and above will suffice. We test a lot of PSUs, check out some good ones over here.

The thermal envelope

Our Rivatuner application is a great one. We used it to monitor monitor heat levels from the GPU.

Temperature in degrees C Idle Peak
GPU-1 48 60

We measured on a relatively warm day. I expect room temperature to have been 23-24 degrees C when we measured.

Idle temps are roughly 48 Degrees C, yet when the GPU was fully utilized & stressed it also reached 60 Degrees C quite quickly. I'll have to be honest here; the thermals for this product are well within defined baseline.

Meaning the product can take it fine, the downside, that heat is dumped inside your PC. You'll still need good cooling inside the PC to push that heat outwards. We made sure this PC had airflow, so should you.

GeForce 9600 GT passively cooled

Volume Levels

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. 

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

Well we can skip this part, the completely passive design results into a soundless experience. However since the heat is dumped inside the PC (a lot of it) you'll need an intake and exhaust fan inside your PC, so you'll likely still end up at 40 DBa.

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