What Do High-End Graphics Cards Cost In Terms Of Electricity?

Power Analysis: The Average User

Average User Profile: Modesty At the Power Outlet

Here we find the exact opposite of the gamers. We were, once again, surprised, but this time by the high daily usage numbers and relatively high proportion of idle time. Office applications, browser-based games, and older 3D games hardly tax the graphics card at all. You could probably question the meaning of buying a good graphics card in the first place, considering the pure cost and the limited utilization.

There are lots of users buying more powerful products than what they really need. This makes sense to avoid frequent graphics card upgrades. Thanks to the very low power consumption of these graphics cards in idle mode, at least this hardware purchase philosophy is not punished through high electricity costs.

Interim Conclusion

The situation is rather clear: unless you’re a real hardcore enthusiast, the best mid-range graphics cards are still good enough for now, as well as for the near future. Purchasing high-end is wasted on this user profile, but at least the operational costs will stay modest in any case.

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  • mi1ez
    Christ! that's an overly complicated way of measuring surely!
  • mi1ez
    Instead, buying just as much performance as you really need for smooth frame rates (maybe with overclocking headroom)

    Forgive me if I'm wrong, but sometimes won't overclocking increase power consumption more than buying the next card up? A bit of an unclear sentence...
  • Silmarunya
    mi1ezForgive me if I'm wrong, but sometimes won't overclocking increase power consumption more than buying the next card up? A bit of an unclear sentence...

    Not per se. If the overclock is achieved without increasing the voltage, the increase in power consumption is almost non-existant. For CPU's, that can be a very sizeable overclock. GPU's on the other hand rarely overclock well without raising voltage, so in this case I'd side with you.
  • Gonemad
    Instead of overclocking, one must look for cards that can underclock (and possibly undervolt) aggressively. You know, cards that nearly go hibernate mode when not used on 3D modes. I'm proud to say that I own a Radeon HD 5870, that can underclock all the way to 300 MHz when doing 2D chores *by default*. After adding the catalyst info on my card to this article, I find myself amazed, and I happily will pay 50 bucks / year to get decent gameplay at 19 x 10 resolutions from it. Not even that, since I don't go gaming 8 hours a day. Shame on the GTX 480 owners, these can pay for the upgrade to a 580 just on the 'leccy saved.
  • asteldian
    Man, that's a disturbing amount of cash. Worse for me as I am in the UK and we get ripped off for everything - the price of card and the bills!
  • kulwant
    what a useless article. I'm still using an ATI 4850, I know this is power hungrier than the 5000 series, especially at idle and I know it's overkill for me most of the time as I'm mostly running a browser, email and Excel - often for 16 hrs a day. But it's nice to have the oomph when I fancy a bit of HAWX or other fancy 3D game. I'm not going to start swapping gfx cards just to play a game.

    I've been meaning to upgrade to a card that sips power at idle rather than drinks it, but totally unsure how much electricity it would save me. Is it worth spending another £120 on a new gfx card? How long with payback take through lower electricity costs? If it's 3 years then hardly worth it. If it's 6 months, then I'm being foolish by not doing it sooner. Having skimmed through this article, I'm none the wiser.

    Are u listening Tom's Hardware? Do something useful with all the stuff at ur disposal for those of us too dumb to work things out for ourselves.
  • m4rmite
    lol i have dual gtx 295's and an i7 930@4ghz and when folding it sucks 820watts (inc the monitor).
    i know it costs me £3.50 a day to run like this as i have it plugged into a power meter.
  • kulwant
    m4rmite, that's a lot of juice! That's over £1250 a year if you left it doing that 24/7!!!!!!
  • m4rmite
    yep i fold in bursts for like 2 weeks then wait a few more weeks... its great in the colder periods as it heats up my room without need for house heating. and its under water cool lol
  • Rab1d-BDGR
    All well and good, but what proportion of one's annual utility bills does this amount to? - Frankly it is easy to offset leaving a PC on 24/7 by making sure all your bulbs are energy-savers not incandescents, avoid excessive uses of things like tumble-dryers and whatever you do don't use an electric immersion heater for hot water or electrical radiators for heating. Then there are the manifold number of gadgets and boxes littering the average nerd-household which may be unnecessarily left in standby and thus inadvertently burning through a few kwh too. Whilst I seldom leave my PC on 24/7, compared to everything else I do to keep my bills down I think these costs are easy to offset.