High-End Workstation Graphics Shootout - AMD FireGL V8650 Vs. NVIDIA QuadroFX 5600

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Heat, Noise, and Power Consumption

Heat, Noise, and Power Consumption

As you’ve seen, both of these cards are pretty strong in terms of specifications, but how are they to live with when working? This more or less boils down to heat production.  If a card is producing excessive heat, the cooler must work harder to get it away from the GPU, which can lead to noisy systems.

Raw GPU Info - ATI V8650 2 GB

Raw GPU Info - QuadroFX 5600 1.5 GB

Our first impressions were with the FireGL V8650, which we found to produce quite a bit of heat during peak processing loads. This wasn’t at all shocking, since we just had experience with ATI’s FireGL V7600, which is a lower-end version of this card.  Even that card produced a lot of heat. Let’s just say that it’s been nice having the extra warmth in the testing area during this cold California winter. However, the excessive heat which this card can produce could create issues in more temperature intensive environments. Granted, we think ATI’s massive cooling system can handle the worst case scenarios, so it's certainly nothing to worry about.

The FireGL V8650 can also be noisy at times. During day to day tasks, the cooler is very quiet and will likely become inaudible once you learn to tune it out. However, when processing loads are piled on, the cooler can spin up quite quickly to full speed, which is significantly louder. If you were running long tasks on this GPU, we feel the extra noise would begin to hinder productivity for the user if this card was sitting nearby. The V8650 also takes longer to cool down and go into its low-noise mode compared to the FX 5600. This tells us that ATI’s cooling system is working hard to get the temperatures down against the heat created by the R600 GPU.

The QuadroFX 5600 card performs much more favorably in this area. The card isn’t silent, but the noise which it does create is low pitched and easy to ignore. During our testing, we were able to kick the fan up to a high-speed mode, but the noise level wasn’t as irritating as ATI’s card. We also saw our GPU temperatures hit top levels of 75°C under sustained heavy loads. None of our applications were able to correctly monitor the temperatures of the FireGL V8650, but we are expecting it to run at higher thermal levels. The QuadroFX card also very quickly dropped into a low noise mode when processing sets were done, showing NVIDIA’s cooling system is a bit more in control of GPU temperature.

Cooler Comparison Size, FireGL V8650 vs. QuadroFX 5600

Based on our tests, we were expecting the FireGL to consume more power compared to the QuadroFX. We tested this by using our SeaSonic Power Angel hardware wattage monitor. Our test system is a quad-core Core 2 system at 3.0 GHz with top of the line hardware (seen on the next page); the only differences here are the graphics cards. We maxed out the GPUs with HDR shader tests in order to see the maximum power consumption level with the GPU maxed out.

Total System Power Consumption
Lower Wattage Numbers Are Better

Comparing the QuadroFX 5600 to the FireGL V8650, the QuadroFX 5600 consumes less power at idle and full load. At idle, the high-end FX5600 card consumes the same amount of power as ATI’s mid-to-high-end V7600 FireGL product. At full load, the gap closes between the two high-end cards, but the V8650 consumes a bit more in the end.

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