Asus ENGTX260: A Quiet Graphics Card for Gamers?

Graphics Cards
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Power

The power consumption of an add-on video card can be estimated by comparing the total system power draw with and without the card installed on our test system. Our results were derived thus:

1. Power consumption of the graphics card at idle - When CPUBurn is run on a system, the video card is not stressed at all, and stays in idle mode. This is true whether the video card is integrated or an add-on PCIe 16X device. Hence, when the system power under CPUBurn with just the integrated graphics is subtracted from the system power under CPUBurn with the add-on card, we obtain the increase in idle power of the add-on card. (The actual idle power of the add-on card cannot be derived, because the integrated graphics does draw some power — we'd guess no more than a watt or two.)

2. Power consumption of the graphics card under load - The power draw of the system is measured with the add-on video card, with CPUBurn and ATITool running simultaneously. Then the power of the baseline system (with integrated graphics) running just CPUBurn is subtracted. The difference is the load power of the add-on card. (If you want to nitpick, the 1~2W power of the integrated graphics at idle should be added to this number.) Any load on the CPU from ATITool should not skew the results, since the CPU was running at full load in both systems

Power Consumption Comparison
GPU State
Diamond HD 4850
ATI X1950XTX
Asus ENGTX260
AC
DC (Est.)
AC
DC (Est.)
AC
DC (Est.)
Idle
+59W
+50W
+49W
+42W
+40W
+35W
Load
+120W
101W
+131W
110W
+146W
122W

The ENGTX260 is clearly the most power hungry card we've tested, using up to 122W DC on full load, topping the X1950XTX's 110W and HD 4850's 101W draws. Given these results, it's very impressive that the card can be cooled quietly by the stock cooling unit. At idle the card draws only 35W, which is actually fairly low for a high-end video accelerator, though more modest cards like the HD 3850/3870 use half that.


GPU-Z screen at various states.

To maximize power savings, the ENGTX260's GPU core and memory clock speeds vary depending on the type of load the system is under. According to GPU-Z, the card clocks itself to 300/100Mhz when idle, 400/300Mhz when video playback is initiated, and 576/999Mhz when the GPU is stressed with 3D applications.

Video Playback

Video Playback Results
Video Clip
Mean CPU Usage
Peak CPU Usage
AC Power
Rush Hour
2%
7%
~131W
Coral Reef
15%
25%
~139W
Flight Sim.
30%
48%
~151W
Drag Race
33%
44%
~153W

As expected, the ENGTX260 handled our video playback tests with ease. CPU usage during playback was very low, and never peaked past 50%. Power consumption varied greatly depending on the type of clip being played with the most stressful VC-1 clips elliciting about 20W more than the Rush Hour H.264 clip.

Video Playback Comparison
Video Clip
Diamond HD 4850
Asus ENGTX260
Asus EN9600GT
Mean CPU
AC Power
Mean CPU
AC Power
Mean CPU
AC Power
Rush Hour
3%
~136W
2%
~131W
2%
~113W
Coral Reef
28%
~151W
15%
~139W
15%
~121W
Flight Sim.
55%
~168W
30%
~151W
28%
~131W

As the card is equiped with the same (and as far as we know, unchanged) PureVideo HD decoder as the previous nVidia-based card we tested, the EN9600GT, the CPU usage results were very similar. And while it plays video more efficiently than the HD 4850, the EN9600GT is even more frugal. Generally speaking, the more advanced the graphics card is, the more power it consumes when idle — and this usually applies to video playback as well. Obviously if video playback is the card's main task, a much cheaper, low power card can do just as well.



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