Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

How Much Power Does Your Graphics Card Need?

How Much Power Does Your Graphics Card Need?
By

The power consumption of today's graphics cards has increased a lot. The top models demand between 110 and 270 watts from the power supply; in fact, a powerful graphics card under full load requires as much power as the rest of the components of a PC system combined. If you’re planning to upgrade to a dual-chip card or to extend your system with a second video card using SLI or CrossFire, then the GPU plays the biggest role in determining how many watts your next power supply must be capable of providing.

A stable power source is important if you want to avoid full-load crashes of the operating system, a.k.a. the dreaded “blue screen.” If you don’t have enough juice, then the PC or the power supply overheats, in the worst case, with a loud bang. The most important questions are: how many watts should the power supply have, does it deliver enough amps, and which plugs or adapters are necessary for the supply?

Of course, cost is also a factor. With today’s electricity prices, you must assess not just the cost of the hardware but also estimate the power used over the course of an entire year. If you don’t need ultimate 3D performance and are looking for a graphics card for your HTPC that’s more economical, you can compare four generations of AMD and Nvidia chips here.

Display 22 Comments.
This thread is closed for comments
  • 0 Hide
    mi1ez , 21 January 2009 16:24
    Now, how about £ for the UK site, and € for Europe?
  • 0 Hide
    mi1ez , 21 January 2009 16:41
    Other than that, a good article. Very informative. Very linkable!
  • 2 Hide
    Stonedofmoo , 21 January 2009 17:02
    Out of interest did you test these cards with one monitor connected or two?

    I mention this because using a power meter I noticed a strange 'bug' on the Nvidia GTX 280. With 2 monitors connected instead of 1 the idle power consumption of the whole PC increased by 38w!!

    I tested this with multiple driver revisions and the latest available BIOS. Turns out I'm not the only one to see this either.

    I don't get this problem with my 8800GT 512mb. The power consumption of that is the same with one or two monitors.

    Also out of interest why does the 8800 1024Mb use less power than the 512mb model, is it a 55nm core?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 21 January 2009 17:10
    Nice you tested all those cards :o 
  • 0 Hide
    Musesoperman , 21 January 2009 18:17
    The cost is not that relevent really because using different quality psu's at differing variations of optimal load will produce wildly varying results not to mention the fact that various utility suppliers charge different rates. Therefore, I see no real need for a conversion to pounds or euro's for those of us living in areas outside of the US. What is important and interesting about this article is that it allows people to make an informed choice about what psu is likely to be best for their chosen setup by using the figures in a comparative way regardless of cost. Great article.
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , 21 January 2009 23:15
    small reminder for "green" people.
    ask yourself following questions:
    Does my house use electricity/oil for heating?
    if yes how much?
    conclusion: your computer reduces heating costs the same amout it consumes energy 1:1.
    ofcourse same applies to lights/tv/etc
    when calculating "waste" energy you really need to dig deep before getting correct answer.
  • -1 Hide
    Zimbu , 21 January 2009 23:36
    well that argument isn't entirely correct because certain things like lights don't radiate heat into the room it stays near the ceiling.
    also high temperatures reduce the lifespan of a pc - and require more airflow and cooling which will relate to more dust and the need for more regular maintainanceof the PC.
    also during the summer time when it is hot you don't require heating so any heat generated then IS wasted energy.
    generally speaking wherever any energy is wasted it is better to eliminate it because 9 times out of 10 it will pay off.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , 22 January 2009 05:04
    Every single article I have read today has someone complaining about dollars and pounds.
    It would take less time to lookup a local price, do a conversion or order the thing from the US.
    whining pomm stereotype is never going to go away.
  • -3 Hide
    Anonymous , 22 January 2009 06:10
    This "mi1ez " guy has no life eithere that or his from a different site and doesn't like this one.. Why don't you go to every site on the net that's in dollars and tell them change to GBP just because your to lazy to do a conversion.. Get a life
  • 1 Hide
    Musesoperman , 22 January 2009 06:50
    er fookdis....I don't know what country you live in but here in UK it's kinda hard to "order the thing from the US" when we are talking about power providers. As for conversions its usually pretty easy since the pound is generally worth a little under 2 US dollars. But I cartainly agree that to niggle about the fact that the article only gives prices in US currency for the reasons I already stated above. I'm sure the author of the review only included a cost comparison as a rough guide anyway. On the other hand, there is an underlying issue here in which milez actually has a point. Every article I've ever read here is exactly the same whether you read it on the "uk content" or "us content" pages and sometimes this causes incorrect comparisons as you can see if you read my response to the recent 3x2mb ddr3 memory test.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , 22 January 2009 13:19
    "...since the pound is generally worth a little under 2 US dollars"

    Those were the days. Happy, recession free days.
  • 0 Hide
    Musesoperman , 22 January 2009 16:22
    Fair point. It's more like 1.65 atm. But the other problem with buying "cheaper" gear from the US is that by the time you add the postage it's actually MORE expensive than the inflated UK prices. For example, the postage charge on motherboards from US to UK is around the $70+ mark. The point I'm making (off topic) though is that when reviews start doing hardware test conclusions based on an American concept of "value" there is definately a "lost in translation" problem and it is THIS that should be looked at when considering content changes between reviews on US and UK Content pages.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 22 January 2009 17:15
    1.65?!

    It is about £1 - $1.38 at the moment. Which is changing daily. You really wouldn't want to be buying anything from either the US or Eurozone at the moment.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 23 January 2009 15:29
    Ha Ha,

    Maybe they should evacuate everyone from the UK across the channel in little fishing boats and let the island sink under the weight of the debt it's carrying. No debt - no problem. (Except for the french having to put up with the englishers.)
  • 1 Hide
    Musesoperman , 23 January 2009 16:38
    Dubbya. We already did that before...we sent all the criminals to America and Australia (and most of those who went on their own were fleeing the threat of the debters prisons). But let's not get into some petty one upmanship that you don't have the mental capacity to persue eh.
  • 0 Hide
    luicpend , 23 January 2009 19:23
    StonedofmooOut of interest did you test these cards with one monitor connected or two?I mention this because using a power meter I noticed a strange 'bug' on the Nvidia GTX 280. With 2 monitors connected instead of 1 the idle power consumption of the whole PC increased by 38w!!I tested this with multiple driver revisions and the latest available BIOS. Turns out I'm not the only one to see this either.I don't get this problem with my 8800GT 512mb. The power consumption of that is the same with one or two monitors.Also out of interest why does the 8800 1024Mb use less power than the 512mb model, is it a 55nm core?


    Indeed it seems strange that the 1024 Mb configuration would consume more power, is that perhaps a mistake on the table or test?

    On a review on www.techpowerup.com about the VVIKOO GeForce 8800 GT, it is written: "In Idle we see no difference between the 1024 MB and the 512 MB version of the 8800 GT. Under load this changes slightly, with the 1 GB version taking a small 10W lead (~5%). The peak power draw is higher as well with 231 W vs. 213 W on the 8800 GT 512 MB. This increase in power draw was to be expected since the additional eight memory chips will consume some power."
  • 0 Hide
    smeghead1986 , 25 January 2009 22:47
    To all the posters complanting about us$ used
    "We used 20 cents (the price at the Munich utility company Stadtwerke München) for the electricity calculation. PSU stands for the power supply unit." so they used euro's which are 1:1 with the pound quote taken from page 2
  • 0 Hide
    DC39 , 26 January 2009 21:29
    Very good article, I had been thinking for years that the power consumption for the graphics cards is going maddly off the scale. I have an 2nd PC used by the family thats has an old TI4600 card and I would like to upgrade it because some DirectX 9 games fail to work but its only a 250watt Shuttle case+psu. Anyone any ideas how much a TI4600 draws and what I could swap it for without killing the shuttle psu?
  • 0 Hide
    Bowmanspeer , 27 January 2009 20:18
    Being one that is currently experiencing power issues I found this to be information I desperately needed!
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 30 January 2009 07:26
    So will the power consumption start playing into the monthly value shakedowns? Speaking of which, where's the "Best Video Cards For The Money: Jan '09" article?
Display more comments