Gigabyte Radeon HD 6850 1GB OC Review (Page 12 of 13)

Page 12 - Power Usage, Temperature, Noise

As a base reference, I have included a measurement for the entire system without the graphics card installed. Please note that the load conditions cannot be directly compared against this base value, since the entire system is under load, and as such the CPU will also contribute to the increased power usage. With that in mind, the Gigabyte Radeon HD 6850 1GB's power consumption reached a maximum of 247W from 154W -- which is pretty good. Gigabyte likes to promote their lower RDS(on) MOSFETs, quality solid capacitors, and low power loss ferrite core design. In the past, I have seen a difference in power consumption as much as 10W against reference cards with regular components. The above results were obtained when running Furmark's stress test. If I am running Unigine: Heaven v2.1 instead, which exerts a lower load on the GPU as well as having minimal processor load, the power usage comes down to only 201W.

As mentioned earlier in this review, I have locked the Windforce 2X fan at 33% to conduct the tests above. Unfortunately, I forgot to obtain official results before removing the heatsink and fan to take photos -- and normally what I would do after this procedure is apply new thermal paste. Since I have been closely watching the card temperature when tuning my fan speed, if I recall correctly, the idle temperature in my silent low airflow chassis configuration was around 66 degrees Celsius; while the game load temperature is typically around 76 degrees Celsius. Most people should get better results in real life than our hot running test bench environment. There is a clear disparity between our results above in several areas. For one thing, our idle temperature improved significantly after applying my Arctic Cooling MX-2 thermal paste (I know they have MX-4 now, but I got such a big tube, it would take me literally more than ten years to go through it haha). I don't think I have seen such a big change in temperature just by changing the thermal interface material before, so it is generally good advice to clean out the stock stuff and apply your own if you ever decide to buy the Gigabyte Radeon HD 6850 1GB OC. This leads us to the second problem. Why is the load temperature in our chart higher than what I have quoted earlier with the stock paste? This is because our official load temperature was taken using Furmark, which heats up the GPU more than any game or benchmark I have tried. Our game load temperature using the MX-2 paste is 68c, which is a full 8 degrees Celsius lower than the material that comes with this card.

As far as noise is concerned, while this is very subjective, I am quite a picky person on noise and the loudest component in my entire system is my Western Digital Caviar Blue hard disk. You can see my test configuration on the third page of this review. In my opinion, there is no objective measurement of noise, as measuring sound pressure level is often impractical, because human ears are more sensitive to some frequencies than others. On a scale from 0-10 where 0 is silent and 10 is the loudest, I would rate the Gigabyte Radeon HD 6850 1GB OC to be at 5.0/10 acoustically out of the box. The fan is programmed to run too fast idling, and this is completely unnecessary. Fortunately, it can be easily slowed down to 33% in Catalyst Control Center, and this setting provides more than sufficient cooling under both idle conditions and full load. 33-35% is the highest setting that the Windforce 2X cooler remains inaudible. On a scale from 0-10 where 0 is silent and 10 is the loudest, I would rate the Gigabyte Radeon HD 6850 1GB OC to be at 1.5/10 at 33% fan speed. Once you push it past the magic 35% mark and hit around 40%, it will become clearly audible again.

Page Index
1. Introduction, Specifications, Bundle
2. AMD Radeon HD 6800 Series Architecture
3. A Closer Look, Test System
4. Benchmark: 3DMark 11
5. Benchmark: Battlefield: Bad Company 2
6. Benchmark: Call of Duty: Black Ops
7. Benchmark: Colin McRae: DiRT 2
8. Benchmark: Far Cry 2
9. Benchmark: Just Cause 2
10. Benchmark: Metro 2033
11. Benchmark: Unigine: Heaven v2.1
12. Power Usage, Temperature, Noise
13. Overclocking and Conclusion