Gigabyte Radeon HD 6870 1GB SOC 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 6870 1GB SOC's power consumption reached a maximum of 258W load from 77W idle -- a difference of 181W. 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 v2.5 instead, which exerts a lower load on the GPU as well as having minimal processor load, the power usage comes down to only 182W.

As mentioned earlier in this review, I have locked the WindForce 3X fan at 40% to conduct the tests above. Obviously, you are going to get better performance with the fan on automatic, since its speed varies accordingly with temperature. However, I wanted to see what the card is capable of doing inside my low airflow chassis configuration. Most people should get better results in real life than our hot running test bench environment. With that in mind, this time I actually remembered to test its performance with the stock paste intact. This is where the good news starts. I have noticed no performance difference between what Gigabyte has included with the card and my Arctic Cooling MX-2 -- meaning, the stock stuff is actually pretty good. Secondly, even under our intense Furmark load tests, the Gigabyte Radeon HD 6870 1GB SOC peaked out at 85c; a figure still within heat design limits. It is important to point out this is the worst case scenario; you will not hit this temperature under normal gaming sessions. When we tested the card in our open test bench, the GPU idled at around 44c, and with the fan speed set on automatic, the maximum load temperature ended up being 76c.

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. The fan is programmed to run at around 40% at around 40c, and 50% at around 50c. I would have much preferred it if the fan stayed below 40% if it is idling unless it exceeds 65c, but either way, the fans on the WindForce 3X cooler is surprisingly quiet. 40% is probably the highest a quiet PC enthusiast would like to run their 6870 SOC at. Even capping it down to 40% in Catalyst Control Center, this setting still provided more than sufficient cooling under both idle conditions and full load. On a scale from 0-10 where 0 is silent and 10 is the loudest, I would rate the Gigabyte Radeon HD 6870 1GB SOC to be at 1.5/10 at 40% fan speed. Once you push it past the magic 45% mark and hit around 50%, it will begin to be audible with a quiet PC configuration.

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 v2.5
12. Power Usage, Temperature, Noise
13. Overclocking and Conclusion