Total System Power Consumption
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.
We're not going to focus much on these power consumption numbers, mostly because the reference Radeon HD 5830 card we tested is nothing like all of the partner boards we've seen coming down the pipeline. With that said, due to the Radeon HD 5830's higher GPU clock, it is likely to consume more power than the 5850, despite the fact that the 5830 has few active stream processor. The specs provided by AMD even have the 5830 with a higher max board power than the Radeon HD 5850.
In our tests, the Radeon HD 5830 consumed slightly less power than its higher-end counterpart at idle, but slightly more under load. The 5830's idle and load power characteristics were both lower than either of the GeForce cards, however.