Power Consumption and Acoustics
Before bringing this article to a close, we'd like to cover a few final data points--namely power consumption and noise. Throughout all of our benchmarking and testing, we monitored how much power our test system was consuming using a power meter. Our goal was to give you all an idea as to how much power each configuration used while idling and while under a heavy workload. Please keep in mind that we were testing total system power consumption at the outlet here, not just the power being drawn by the graphics cards alone.
The Radeon HD 5850's power consumption characteristics were impressive to say the least. Despite the fact that it was essentially the second fastest single-GPU powered card in our tests, it had the lowest power consumption under both idle and load conditions.
As a direct result of the Radeon HD 5850's very good power consumption, it also tends to run relatively cool and quiet. At idle, the GPU on the 5850 hovered right around the 39'C mark and under load, that number hit about 78'C. More importantly, at least in our opinion, is that because of the relatively low power consumption of the card, its cooling fan hardly ever spins up to audible levels. While idling, the Radeon HD 5850 is inaudible over other common system components, like PSU and CPU cooling fans. And while under load, the Radeon HD 5850 isn't necessarily silent, but its fan spins at a low enough speed that the card is very quiet and can barely be heard over other system components.