Power Consumption and Noise
Before we bring this article to a close, we'd like to cover a few final data points. Throughout all of our benchmarking and testing, we monitored how much power our test system was consuming using a power meter and also took some notes regarding its noise output as reported by our digital sound level meter. Our goal was to give you all an idea as to how much power each configuration used and to explain how loud the configurations were under load. Please keep in mind that we were testing total system power consumption at the outlet here, not just the power being drawn by the video cards alone.
Last month, when ATI first disclosed details regarding the Radeon HD 2600 and 2400 cards, they claimed power consumption would be very low with these GPUs, and it turns out they weren't kidding. While idling and while under a full 3D workload, all three of the new Radeon HD cards we tested proved to sip power in comparison their competition. Then again, their performance levels in our game tests were usually lower as well, so they should consume less power. With these relatively low power requirements, we suspect the mobile versions of these GPUs are going to be quite popular with ODMs.
We should also note that all three of these new mainstread Radeon HD 2000 series cards remained nice and quiet throughout our testing. From about 1 foot away, our entire test rig generated between 47 and 49dB of noise. And the fans on all of the cards never spun up to full speed - even after hours and hours of testing.