Asus DirectCU & AMD Radeon HD 6850 Graphics Cards

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TEST RESULTS

BASELINE, with Integrated Graphics: First, here are the results of our baseline results of the system with just its integrated graphics, without a discrete video card. We'll also need the power consumption reading during CPUBurn to estimate the actual power draw of discrete card later.

System Measurements:
VGA Test System (IGP)
Measurement
Idle
CPUBurn
CPU Temp
33°C
51°C
SB Temp
33°C
41°C
SPL@1m
13 dBA
System Power (AC)
52W
140W
System Power (DC, est.)
unknown
111W
Ambient temperature: 22°C
Ambient noise level: 11 dBA

AMD Radeon HD 6850

System Measurements: VGA Test System with
Reference AMD Radeon HD 6850
Measurement
Idle
CPUBurn
CPUBurn + FurMark
CPU Temp
29°C
52°C
55°C
SB Temp
35°C
40°C
44°C
GPU Core Temp
47°C
51°C
83°C
GPU VRM Temp
44°C
45°C
73°C
GPU Fan Speed
810 RPM
1880 RPM
SPL@1m
14 dBA
23 dBA
System Power (AC)
70W
158W
246W
System Power (DC, est.)
unknown
127W
202W
Ambient temperature: 23°C
IGP system noise level: 13 dBA

The stock AMD 6850 cooler does a fairly good job keeping things cool. The GPU core stabilized at 83°C, which is quite low for a modern graphics card. As it pushes exhaust out the back of the card, system temperatures remained moderate even on full load.

The system noise level was an impressive 14 dBA@1m when idle, a barely audible difference over the same system running without a video card. On load, the fan increased in speed by about 1000 RPM, generating an increase of 9 dB. It had an unappealing buzz, but the overall noise level was pretty good compared to most stock graphics cards. The fan is a little over-aggressive, in our opinion.

Cooling was very good despite the small size of the heatsink utilized by AMD; its efficiency is impressive.

Asus EAH6850 DirectCU

System Measurements: VGA Test System with
Asus EAH6850 DirectCU
Measurement
Idle
CPUBurn
CPUBurn + FurMark
CPU Temp
30°C
54°C
65°C
SB Temp
36°C
42°C
52°C
GPU Core Temp
38°C
40°C
74°C
GPU VRM Temp
48°C
75°C
GPU Fan Speed
1560 RPM
2310 RPM
SPL@1m
15 dBA
17~18 dBA
System Power (AC)
68W
158W
258W
System Power (DC, est.)
unknown
127W
211W
Ambient temperature: 23°C
IGP system noise level: 13 dBA

The Asus EAH6850 DirectCU is well cooled as well, though on load, system temperatures were much higher, as there is no direct escape path for the hot air radiating off the card. As a result both the nearby southbridge and CPU saw higher temperatures. The GPU was well taken care of, stabilizing at only 75°C on load; the fan could have been slowed down a bit without much risk.

From a noise perspective, the EAH6850 DirectCU is one of the quietest cards we've ever tested, generating only 15 dBA@1m when idle and 17~18 dBA@1m on load in our VGA test system. At idle, its acoustics were dominated by a quiet, but audible low frequency hum. On load, it actually sounded slightly better subjectively as the hum was masked by the broadband sound of increased air turbulence.

Comparison

System Measurements: VGA Test System on Load
AMD/Asus HD 6850 vs. AMD HD 6870
Measurement
AMD Radeon HD 6850
Asus EAH6850 DirectCU
AMD Radeon HD 6870
CPU Temp
55°C
65°C
60°C
SB Temp
44°C
52°C
49°C
GPU Core Temp
83°C
74°C
90°C
GPU VRM Temp
73°C
75°C
81°C
GPU Fan Speed
1880 RPM
2310 RPM
2950 RPM
SPL@1m
23 dBA
17~18 dBA
34 dBA
System Power (AC)
246W
258W
336W
System Power (DC, est.)
202W
211W
274W
Ambient temperature: 23°C
IGP system noise level: 13 dBA

The practical difference between the two coolers boils down to GPU vs. system cooling. The DirectCU heatsink is far superior at cooling the video card, producing better GPU temperatures with lower noise levels. The reference heatsink dumps a lot of the heat outside the case resulting in better CPU and southbridge cooling.



On load, the noise difference between the two cards is significant.



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