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 system was consuming using a power meter and also took some notes regarding its 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.
Whether sitting at idle or being taxed by a heavy graphics workload, the new GeForce 8600 series cards has the lower power consumption of the bunch. The GeForce 7950 GT was in-line with the pre-overclocked GTS cards, but the GTs put up numbers well below the rest here. The Radeon X1950 Pro wasn't all that much more power hungry but under load there was a 10-20+ watt delta separating it from NVIDIA's new mainstream offerings.
We'd also like to talk a little about the noise generated by the new slim-line, single slot coolers on the GeForce 8600 cards. For the most part, the fans on the coolers spun at a low speed, and were barely audible over our test system's PSU, CPU heatsink, and case fans. After some extended benchmarking sessions though, the fans did spin-up to a higher RPM and they produced a noticable report. We wouldn't call the fans loud by any means, but they were clearly audible.