Sparkle GeForce GTS 250 1GB Graphics Card

Graphics Cards
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Our test procedure is an in-system test, designed to:

1. Determine whether the card's cooler is adequate for use in a low-noise system. By adequately cooled, we mean cooled well enough that no misbehavior related to thermal overload is exhibited. Thermal misbehavior in a graphics card can show up in a variety of ways, including:

  • Sudden system shutdown, bluescreen or reboot without warning.
  • Jaggies and other visual artifacts on the screen.
  • Motion slowing and/or screen freezing.

Any of these misbehaviors are annoying at best and dangerous at worst — dangerous to the health and life span of the graphics card, and sometimes to the system OS.

2. Estimate the card's power consumption. This is a good indicator of how efficient the card is and will have an effect on how hot the stock cooler becomes due to power lost in the form of heat. The lower the better.

3. Determine the card's ability to play back high definition video, to see if whether it is a suitable choice for a home theater PC.

Test Platform

Measurement and Analysis Tools

Testing Procedures

Our first test involves recording the system power consumption using a Seasonic Power Angel as well as CPU and GPU temperatures using SpeedFan and GPU-Z during different states: Idle, under load with CPUBurn running to stress the processor, and with CPUBurn and ATITool's artifact scanner (or FurMark — whichever produces higher power consumption) running to stress both the CPU and GPU simultaneously. This last state mimics the stress on the CPU and GPU produced by a modern video game. The software is left running until the GPU temperature remains stable for at least 10 minutes. If artifacts are detected by ATITool or any other instability is noted, the heatsink is deemed inadequate to cool the video card in our test system.

If the heatsink has a fan, the load state tests are repeated at various fan speeds while the system case fan is left at its lowest setting of 7V. If the card utilizes a passive cooler, the system fan is varied instead to study the effect of system airflow on the heatsink's performance. System noise measurements are made at each fan speed.

Power consumption is also measured during playback of a variety of video clips with PowerDVD to test the efficiency of the card's H.264/VC-1 hardware acceleration.

Video Test Suite

1080p | 24fps | ~10mbps
H.264: Rush Hour 3 Trailer 1 is a H.264 encoded clip inside an Apple Quicktime container.

1080p | 24fps | ~8mbps
WMV-HD: Coral Reef Adventure Trailer is encoded in VC-1 using the WMV3 codec commonly recognized by the "WMV-HD" moniker.

1080p | 24fps | ~19mbps
VC-1: Drag Race is a recording of a scene from network television re-encoded with TMPGEnc using the WVC1 codec, a more demanding VC-1 codec.

Estimating DC Power

The following power efficiency figures were obtained for the Seasonic S12-600 used in our test system:

Seasonic S12-500 / 600 TEST RESULTS
DC Output (W)
AC Input (W)

This data is enough to give us a very good estimate of DC demand in our test system. We extrapolate the DC power output from the measured AC power input based on this data. We won't go through the math; it's easy enough to figure out for yourself if you really want to.

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