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Performance vs. Power usage (desktop GPUs)

wand3r3r

Diamond Member
May 16, 2008
3,180
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I'm just surprised how often the efficiency is brought up, when the difference is insignificant in my opinion. Power usage is about the least of my worries and I look at it after I've checked the performance, cost per FPS, and all the other data (if at all).

I think we need a vote but I don't know the right categorization and terminology. It would be great to get hundreds or thousands of votes but I'd be surprised if that would happen.

I see tons of fanboys touting it as if it matters whenever their preferred brand is on top. Next gen might be a GK110 780 vs. 8970 and the 780 will most likely consume considerably more power if it turns out to be so. Let's see who is still touting performance / watt. The same is true for the past gen. 580 vs. 6970. Personally I just don't care to a certain extent. Yeah if the performance per watt is like double or something significant I might look twice, but until then I'm going for performance / $.

So if I spend $1k on GPUs, I don't even care to hear about a $20/year power usage, that has no effect on my decision. Yeah if it's a $200 difference I better hear about it.

I'm pulling numbers out of my hat to demonstrate the point. I'd like to see the general public's opinion if someone could whip up a cleverly worded poll. The problem is trying to get enough options or asked in the right way to clearly demonstrate who cares, and at what point.

Oh yeah, there is one other reason why I probably don't care - I don't game enough to make a difference.
 
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boxleitnerb

Platinum Member
Nov 1, 2011
2,597
1
81
The discussion about power usage isn't only about the electricity cost.

It's about having an adequate power supply and the noise that a cooling solution will generate. Finally I like to look at the design itself - if it is efficient, it's a feat of engineering.
 

KingFatty

Diamond Member
Dec 29, 2010
3,034
1
81
Another part is how you value your money.

If you are haggling over the price of a car, $500 more or less is no biggie.

But if you are considering whether to purchase an App for your phone or tablet, $0.99 can be a big deal.

So if you consider, all by itself without thinking about the video card, the extra money spent on power, I could see wanting to save every penny by getting more efficient everything, including video cards, to bring down your total power bill.

But when you tack-on the price of power to the substantial initial cost of the card, then you can think of it like no biggie like when you buy a car, even if it's several tens of dollars, because you are thinking of the total price.

But if you don't care about $10 per year extra in power cost, could you please slip a $5 bill in an envelope and send it to me? You won't miss it I promise, and I'm letting you save $5 for your trouble so it's even less of a burden to lose that $10 every year...
 

DaveSimmons

Elite Member
Aug 12, 2001
40,730
670
126
I care about power mostly because it translates into heat and noise, only a small part is from being a tree-hugging planet-saver :)
 

Keysplayr

Elite Member
Jan 16, 2003
21,209
50
91
Quite an OP for someone who states they don't care about the topic no less than 3 times in said OP. How very odd. :)
 

wand3r3r

Diamond Member
May 16, 2008
3,180
0
0
Quite an OP for someone who states they don't care about the topic no less than 3 times in said OP. How very odd. :)
The point being that it's being touted by fanboys as a benefit or reason to buy a particular brands card. The price/performance ration may be better for the other brand so it's a pretty weak reason to choose a high end card for a few dollars in power usage difference. Therefore I would like to have a poll to see how many end users actually care.

So very odd indeed. ;)

Edit* What the point of your post. :)
 
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Phynaz

Lifer
Mar 13, 2006
10,140
817
126
Power consumption is probably my top decision item. Heat and noise bother me.
 

BenSkywalker

Diamond Member
Oct 9, 1999
9,140
67
91
The point being that it's being touted by fanboys as a benefit or reason to buy a particular brands card.
For the previous couple of generations team red had a fairly large performance edge in this metric so they shouted from the rooftops how it was the most important metric. Now, team red is behind team green albeit by a much smaller margin, so now I think you mainly see team green bringing it up over and over again because they listened to ~a couple of years of hearing about the monumental importance of it.

There are a few posters on this forum that I truly believe care about performance/watt, but not too many :)
 

blastingcap

Diamond Member
Sep 16, 2010
6,654
5
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Not everyone pays the same power rate and even there, many people are tiered and the upper tiers can be quite costly, so it's good to cut marginal watts off.

Not everyone ignores externalities like pollution and CO2 emissions, which are not included in your bill.

Noise and heat are also factors. If there is enough heat thrown off it can even impact your other components' temperatures with all that entails.

If someone has a borderline PSU then they may be forced to upgrade the PSU with some cards.

Depending on usage profile, especially for those who leave their PCs on 24/7 and idling for almost all of that time, idle power draw may actually matter as much or more than load power draw.

If people obsess over 10% perf difference then maybe they should consider that holding a card that eats more power for a couple of years, may result in a card that is 10% more expensive as well, leading to no increase in price/perf.

Conversely, getting a more efficient PSU, turning off a PC when not in use, etc. can all save on power and reduce the delta between two video cards. Plus some people have cheap or even free power. As for noise, a pair of headphones may help with that. The extra heat from extra wattage is not something that is as easily dealt with, though you could watercool (this will not change the amount of heat that makes it into your room though). Upgrading your case or case fans may also help with the heat, though once again that does not change the amount of heat dumped into your room.

I'm just surprised how often the efficiency is brought up, when the difference is insignificant in my opinion. Power usage is about the least of my worries and I look at it after I've checked the performance, cost per FPS, and all the other data (if at all).

I think we need a vote but I don't know the right categorization and terminology. It would be great to get hundreds or thousands of votes but I'd be surprised if that would happen.

I see tons of fanboys touting it as if it matters whenever their preferred brand is on top. Next gen might be a GK110 780 vs. 8970 and the 780 will most likely consume considerably more power if it turns out to be so. Let's see who is still touting performance / watt. The same is true for the past gen. 580 vs. 6970. Personally I just don't care to a certain extent. Yeah if the performance per watt is like double or something significant I might look twice, but until then I'm going for performance / $.

So if I spend $1k on GPUs, I don't even care to hear about a $20/year power usage, that has no effect on my decision. Yeah if it's a $200 difference I better hear about it.

I'm pulling numbers out of my hat to demonstrate the point. I'd like to see the general public's opinion if someone could whip up a cleverly worded poll. The problem is trying to get enough options or asked in the right way to clearly demonstrate who cares, and at what point.

Oh yeah, there is one other reason why I probably don't care - I don't game enough to make a difference.
 
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Feb 19, 2009
10,457
5
76
Power consumption is probably my top decision item. Heat and noise bother me.
Heat and noise = dependant on the cooler. You can have an extremely hot and noisy gpu if it comes with a crap cooler.

Vice versa, custom 7970 ghz ed runs cool and quiet.

If you pay a lot for electricity, it matters. Otherwise i can see why many dont care.
 

ShintaiDK

Lifer
Apr 22, 2012
20,378
131
106
Heat and noise = dependant on the cooler. You can have an extremely hot and noisy gpu if it comes with a crap cooler.

Vice versa, custom 7970 ghz ed runs cool and quiet.

If you pay a lot for electricity, it matters. Otherwise i can see why many dont care.
Depends, the GPU might run cool and quiet. But you also got CPU fan, PSU fan, case fan(s).

Not to mention room climate.
 

DaveSimmons

Elite Member
Aug 12, 2001
40,730
670
126
Yep, a quiet "open" cooler just pushes the heat to somewhere else in the case, and that heat still needs to be removed by the case and/or PSU fans. It can also make the CPU fan speed up.

Not creating the heat at all is better, performance being equal.
 
Feb 19, 2009
10,457
5
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Yep, a quiet "open" cooler just pushes the heat to somewhere else in the case, and that heat still needs to be removed by the case and/or PSU fans. It can also make the CPU fan speed up.

Not creating the heat at all is better, performance being equal.
There's nice case fans for $10.
 

ArchAngel777

Diamond Member
Dec 24, 2000
5,223
61
91
For the previous couple of generations team red had a fairly large performance edge in this metric so they shouted from the rooftops how it was the most important metric. Now, team red is behind team green albeit by a much smaller margin, so now I think you mainly see team green bringing it up over and over again because they listened to ~a couple of years of hearing about the monumental importance of it.

There are a few posters on this forum that I truly believe care about performance/watt, but not too many :)

I am one of them, but I am still willing to compromise. For instance, I picked up a 480 GTX for real cheap at $200. Sure, it comsumes a lot of power, but I took the liberty to undervolt and slightly underclock it. I am sure it still pulls more power than a 570 or something, but in the end, I doubt it equates to $30 over the year. I run with Vsynch (further reduces power consumption).

With that said, if I didn't get a good deal on the 480 I would have NEVER touched this thing. If you don't set your own fan profiles the thing spins up like a jet engine.

Additionally, it isn't just 'money' people worry about for power consumption. Many people don't like the heat it dumps into your room. Even though I have central air and a good air ciculation, it is still hotter in my computer room than anywhere else, and the 480 is a major contributor to that.

The 480 might possibly be the most power hungry single GPU ever created.

I also remember thinking to myself that people are over sensative with the fan noise of the 480. I remember reading BFG's review I think of a 470 or something and thinking 'Yeah, but that is BFG. I mean, he is ultra sensative to most things' turns out he really wasn't. I have some nice G930 head phones and if I LET the bios control the fan on my 480, my room will sound like a jet engine. Not cool when you are playing alice in wonderland, wondering where the jet is coming from. I don't remember jets being in that lore...
 
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wand3r3r

Diamond Member
May 16, 2008
3,180
0
0
Point taken, heat is definitely an issue, even if I don't care about the power consumption (within reason).

I have the higher end from both brands and they are extremely cool. 65c max with the exception of the gtx 690 which runs from 70-82c. (Twin Frozr 4s, and DCUII)

Other generations have had a bigger difference.
 

ArchAngel777

Diamond Member
Dec 24, 2000
5,223
61
91
I have the higher end from both brands and they are extremely cool. 65c max with the exception of the gtx 690 which runs from 70-82c. (Twin Frozr 4s, and DCUII)
Commong mistake people make on these forums. Tempature of the silicon (GPU) is not indicative of it's power consumption. Whether a GPU is 100c or 50c is no way determines how much power it consumes. As far as longevity for the GPU is concerned, temperature does matter. But no one can really quantify what that means in years.
 

wand3r3r

Diamond Member
May 16, 2008
3,180
0
0
Commong mistake people make on these forums. Tempature of the silicon (GPU) is not indicative of it's power consumption. Whether a GPU is 100c or 50c is no way determines how much power it consumes. As far as longevity for the GPU is concerned, temperature does matter. But no one can really quantify what that means in years.
Obviously temp != power consumption.

The point was temps are very low, thus the marginal difference between the 6xx and 7xxx is to insignificant for me to factor in a purchase.
 

DaveSimmons

Elite Member
Aug 12, 2001
40,730
670
126
If one GPU is using 50 watts more than the other, that's 50 watts of heat regardless of how well the cooler moves it away from the GPU surface.

Running cool just means it has a good enough cooling solution to move heat away from itself, regardless of the heat's effect on the system or the room it's in.

That matters if heat and noise are important to you. If you game with headphones on you might never notice the noise. In Fall - Spring the extra heat might not be enough to notice.

Is that the be-all and end-all of buying a card? Of course not. But it is a point that some of us weigh when choosing one.
 

BrightCandle

Diamond Member
Mar 15, 2007
4,762
0
76
Since I water cool my cards I care about power consumption not because of noise but because I have a total heat budget. My water kit can only cool around 780 Watts of total power at full load with fans at 1200 rpm and I prefer 800 rpm for the relative silence. So at around 600 W of cooling I have to ideally get my cards roughly around the 300W mark or else I will have problems with overall temperatures on the CPU and NB/VRMs.

But once you water cool you never go back to noisy air, its the ultimate in silence. So heat matters a bit, but I choose performance in preference everytime. If they bring out a new card that is 40% faster (single core) but 300Watts then I'll need more water cooling performance and it'll add to the price of those cards fairly considerably but it wont stop me doing it.
 

Wall Street

Senior member
Mar 28, 2012
691
44
91
I would say it isn't nearly as big of a deal as it was because nobody is going to release another GTX 480. Compared to then, no current single GPU has load stats of 96 deg C, 421 watts and 64 dB. Both the 7970 and 680 use over 30 watts less power, are over 15 deg C cooler and 9 dB quieter. So both companies have made this more of a non-issue for me in the past three years.
 

BallaTheFeared

Diamond Member
Nov 15, 2010
8,115
0
71
I would say it isn't nearly as big of a deal as it was because nobody is going to release another GTX 480. Compared to then, no current single GPU has load stats of 96 deg C, 421 watts and 64 dB. Both the 7970 and 680 use over 30 watts less power, are over 15 deg C cooler and 9 dB quieter. So both companies have made this more of a non-issue for me in the past three years.
I don't believe this is right at all, there is nothing wrong with a 250w video card.

You won't see another 250w video card like the 480 because cooling solutions for reference cards have greatly improved since it's time.

Not only that the first run chips that were probably the worst ever put out tarnished GF100 for it's entire life span and even to this day, the same could said for 7970 except AMD was persistent with it and didn't quickly refresh like nVidia did.

The other thing you will never see is a fully untethered video cards power consumption in Furmark, starting with the 580 Nvidia started to throttle that program directly while AMD has had a TDP limit since at least 4xxx series.
 

Wall Street

Senior member
Mar 28, 2012
691
44
91
I don't believe this is right at all, there is nothing wrong with a 250w video card.
It is funny that you say "I don't believe this is right at all" and then concur with my main point. The "power problem" people were citing a few years ago, which has since died down, was really a GTX 480 problem (and more specifically a reference GTX 480).
You won't see another 250w video card like the 480 because cooling solutions for reference cards have greatly improved since it's time.
I agree 100%. When people were complaining a lot about power a few years ago, noise and heat often were referenced.
The other thing you will never see is a fully untethered video cards power consumption in Furmark
I quoted the game power consumption tests numbers, so unless the 7970 and GTX 680 throttle in Metro 2033, the point still stands that power isn't nearly as much of an issue in this generation of cards as it was in 2010.
the same could said for 7970
A 7970 does not blow up a 450W PSU if you launch Heaven/Furmark/OCCT and can safely be run 24/7 on a 450W PSU as long as you don't overclock, a 7970 does not produce over 60 dB and doesn't go over 90 deg C in games. So "the same could be said" about power consumption and noise like all high-end GPUs, but certainly not to the same extent.
 

BallaTheFeared

Diamond Member
Nov 15, 2010
8,115
0
71
This generation is mid-range performance, it's to be expected that power levels won't be like GF100 because that was a high end card for it's day. The 7970 is more closely related in power consumption to the 470/570, the latter of which was not considered hot/loud for it's time. The reason the 680 made such a sink is because it performed better than the 7970 while being a power level lower. The 7970 drew power like a 470 but performed like a 465 relative to the 680.

The only card this generation that is going to rivial the 480 is an overclocked 7970, AMD's cards are more capable than Nvidia's current lineup to draw extra power - unless you go outside nvidia's voltage table you won't see much more than 220w out of a 680 - and 7970 is not so limited and can easily exceed a stock 480s power draw.

Of course it doesn't it throttles down and doesn't even run at full speed, Furmark is a power virus.
 
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