Paradigm SHIFT: MainGear's Unique Gaming Rig Tested

Article Index

Acoustics and Power Consumption

Power consumption was measured at the wall using a Kill-A-Watt power meter; the numbers given are indicative of the system's total power draw. We measure four specific states:


  • Idle: The system is booted and left with no background tasks running for 15 minutes. Note that most boutique manufacturers disable power-saving features like C1E, SpeedStep, and in some cases, sleep modes. Windows 7 is invariably left in "Max Performance" mode as well. This results in idle power draws substantially higher than they'd be if these features were enabled.
  • Load:  This state models real-world power consumption when the machine is being used for computationally intensive tasks, including 3D gaming, rendering, or data analysis. The applications we use to determine an accurate value for load power can vary depending on the component or components being tested. In this case, we measured power consumption while playing Battlefield: Bad Company 2. 
  • Peak: Peak power consumption is the maximum amount of power we were able to draw at the wall. Unlike idle and load measurements, peak power should not be treated as a realistic measure of a system's normal power consumption. We derive this value by simultaneously executing multiple programs (usually synthetic) that we've specifically chosen for their ability to create worst-case thermal/power consumption scenarios.
At present, we test peak power by running Prime95 across n-1 of the available cores on a system. The last core is reserved for executing the OpenGL GPU stress test program Furmark. In order to ensure a system is entirely stable we loop our peak power tests for a total of eight hours--or at least, we try.The Shift was unable to make it past the one hour mark for reasons we'll discuss on the next page. 

The Shift's overclock, extra cores, and power-hungry brace of GTX 480s push its power consumption up significantly over the Genesis, although oddly, the gap is slightly larger at Load as compared to Peak. The 1.2kW SilverStone PSU in the Shift had no problem handling the load. We've not had to discuss this previously, but a power supply is rated to supply a certain amount of DC power as opposed to being rated for a maximum amount of power draw when measured at the wall. Assuming an 80 percent efficiency rate, power supplies like the two in the Genesis and the Shift should be able to pull up to 1.5kW of wall power while remaining within spec. Unfortunately, the Shift wasn't able to run our Peak benchmark for more than an hour before crashing, for reasons we explore on the next page.

We had to make a few changes to acoustics testing on account of the fact that the Shift's "back" (relative to standard ATX cases) is actually sticking straight up. We simplified the problem by rotating the Shift 90 degrees and measuring it as we would a standard case. Remember that since these are decibel levels, the scale is logarithmic rather than linear.

Six decibels of difference between the Shift and the Genesis means the Genesis is 4x louder than the Shift. MainGear claims that the Shift's orientation allow the system to be cooled more effectively (aka more quietly), and these numbers imply that's accurate. Unfortunately, we're about to muddy that pristine conclusion with the data we gathered on the Shift's operating temperatures.

Related content