Power Consumption and Thermals
We'd like to cover a few final data points before bringing this article to a close. Throughout all of our benchmarking and testing, we monitored how much power our test systems were consuming using a power meter. Our goal was to give you an idea as to how much power each configuration used while idling and 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 motherboards alone.
Out of the cards we used for testing, the Radeon HD 4850s consumed the least power, especially while under load conditions. Interestingly, the differences between the HIS and Sapphire cards is larger than one might expect. The draw at idle conditions had Sapphire's card using 6 more watts than HIS, and 15 more under load. With Sapphire using up more energy, let's see how the cooling fares.
Originally, it seems that Sapphire's Zalman cooler is operating much better than the new and improved IceQ4 cooler on HIS' model. Temperatures are pretty much in line with NVIDIA's cards, and well under those seen with the hot-running HD 4870. While running through some hectic scenes in Crysis, we saw that the temperature on Sapphire's card spiked nearly 30 degrees winding up just shy of 70 degrees. The IceQ4 handled the load conditions much better, with only half the increase in temps seen on Sapphire's card.