Power Consumption and Noise
We have a few final data points to cover before bringing this article to a close. Throughout all of our benchmarking, we monitored how much power our test systems were consuming using a power meter, and also took some notes regarding their noise output. 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 here, not just the power being drawn by the video cards alone.
Surprisingly, the Radeon X1950 XTX, despite its super-fast 2GHz memory, consumed less power than a 512MB Radeon X1900 XTX according to our trusty power meter. At like clock speeds, GDDR4 memory should consume less power than GDDR3, but considering the X1950 XTX's higher-clocks we were expecting the X1900 XTX and X1950 XTX to consume roughly the same amount of power. But as you can see, this did not turn out to be the case. As expected though, the 256MB Radeon X1900 XT consumed less power than its 512MB counterpart.
We should also mention that we've included the NVIDIA-based power consumption numbers here only as a reference point. Although the graph makes it appear as though the GeForce cards consume more power than the ATI cards, that's not necessarily the case. In previous testing, we've found that the nForce SLIX16 chipset consumes roughly 30 - 40 more watts than the CrossFire Xpress 3200 chipset. This difference accounts for the higher numbers put up by the NVIDIA platform above.
We'd also like to talk a bit about the Radeon X1950 XTX's new cooler and the noise it generates. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your perspective), our sound level meter did not pick up the Radeon X1950 XTX over the noise generated by the components in our test system. We will say that the new cooler on the X1950 XTX is much quieter than the one used on the X1900 XTX, especially when running at higher RPM. Where the Radeon X1900 XTX sounded like a hair-dryer at high-RPM, the X1950 XTX produces only a low-pitched hum.