System Level Power Comparison

While it's far from the best way of measuring the power consumption of just the graphics card, with only a handful of days to play around with the X800 XL, our system level power consumption tests are the best option that we have. The tests work like this: we take our testbed, an Athlon 64 FX-55, and measure the power consumption of the entire testbed (RAM, HDD, motherboard, CPU, video card and power supply) at the electrical outlet. What this tells us is the total power consumed by the system, essentially the amount of power for which you're billed. Since we're keeping all other components the same and only swapping out the video card, the impact on power consumption is almost exclusively due to the video card - we say "almost exclusively" because a faster GPU will make the CPU work harder and thus, consume more power and vice versa. But in the end, it's a fairly good indicator of what GPUs consume more power (and thus produce more heat) relative to one another.

Our first test has our test bed idling at the Windows desktop at 1600 x 1200. The system specs are as follows:

 System Configuration
Motherboard: ASUS nForce4 A8N-SLI Deluxe
Processor: AMD Athlon 64 FX-55
RAM: 1GB Corsair DDR400
Video Drivers: NVIDIA ForceWare 67.02 Drivers
ATI Beta Catalyst Drivers 8.08-041111a-019256E (no Catalyst version has been assigned to this package yet)
Operating System(s): Windows XP Service Pack 2 with DirectX 9.0c

All performance tests were run at 1600 x 1200, some benchmarks were also run at 1600 x 1200 with 4X AA and 8X AF enabled.

Cool 'n Quiet is disabled, giving us the following breakdown in system power consumption:

System Power Comparison

We see that at idle, there's no big improvement to the 0.11-micron process on the X800 XL.

Then we fired up Half Life 2 and ran through our at_prison_05 demo, one of our most stressful GPU tests to see how far we could push power consumption. Here, we see a slight advantage to the X800 XL, but definitely not as dramatic as we would've thought. Given that we're running at a lower core clock, we'd expect the 0.11-micron X800 XL to impact system power consumption more than it did. We would also expect power consumption to decrease as the 0.11-micron process matures and if/when a low-k dielectric is used in conjunction with the smaller transistor feature size.

System Power Consumption

The X800 XL does consume less power and thus, will run cooler than the 6800GT, which is a plus for ATI. Given that the 6800GT is already a single slot solution, the power/heat advantage isn't one that is entirely noticeable considering that the X800 XL cannot be run fanless.

Index Head to Head: X800 XL vs. 6800GT
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  • Keyser0804 - Thursday, December 16, 2004 - link

    I just thought the 6800nu should be compared because of the pricing, even if it is a weaker card. Nividia will probably drop prices to compete, right? Reply
  • DS Delaroca - Thursday, December 16, 2004 - link

    im yet to see an ATI/Nvidia high end card on the shelf or online for the 499.99 to 599.99 if at all, this paper lauch crap needs to stop its misleading and LUDACRIS. Reply
  • DS Delaroca - Thursday, December 16, 2004 - link

    who cares about doom 3, i care more about real games like Far Cry, HL2 and EQ2, doom3 was to me nothing more than just a demo, besides i have not see any companies picking that engine for next gen. games, i have see people talking more about HL2 and the unreal 3 engine than D3. Reply
  • Filibuster - Wednesday, December 15, 2004 - link

    >Anand, thanks for the great review.... Do you have any knowledge or hints as to when the pci-e 6800gts are going to start showing up in more volume?

    I second that!
    Please look into this!
    If its something you can't say then at least say that you can't say. :)
    Thanks.
    Reply
  • Gaia Hunter - Wednesday, December 15, 2004 - link

    6800nu and 6800LE are excellent choices for those AMD users that want to wait for PCI-e motherboards for AMD, without wasting $400+ in a card that will after be obsolete (AGP 6800GT/ULTRA and AGP X800PRO/XT).

    Those users will also have a good choice of being able to unlock their cards to 16/6(pipelines/vertex) in a Vanilla or 12/5 in a LE (some get 16/6 also in LE).

    Those that cant unlock, will generally be able to do some good overclock, unless they're extremly unlucky and got a very bugged "ULTRA" core!!!!!
    Reply
  • mczak - Wednesday, December 15, 2004 - link

    isn't the 6800nu more a competitor to the X800 than the X800XL? The 6800nu is usually just slightly faster than a 6600GT, ans since the X800 beats the 6600GT, it ought to be a close call performance wise (other than doom3). IIRC the 6800nu is downgraded compared to 6800GT pretty much the same as the X800 compared to X800XL is (128MB instead of 256MB ram, ~70% memory clock, ~3/4 pixel fill rate). Reply
  • DerekWilson - Wednesday, December 15, 2004 - link

    As per the vanilla 6800, we had not been able to find a PCI Express 12 pipe card either from a vendor or on the street until now.

    This week we noticed one on newegg from MSI for $339. That's the only one we've seen, and we haven't gotten any in our labs yet. Last week, there weren't any to be had in the USA for as much digging as we did.

    With the new pricing and knowing the performance of the 6800 GT vs. the 6800, one can extrapolate that the X800 XL will certainly out perform the 12-pipe 6800 part in price and performance. Our recommendation (if the X800 XL sees the light of day) will be with the ATI part at $299 if the standard PCIe 6800 cards available today stick at $40 more.

    On the AGP side, ATI won't talk about what they are and aren't bridgeing back until they finish their bridge. We won't know if the vanilla 6800 AGP is safe at it's $275 street price until we hear more on that front.

    Thanks,
    Derek Wilson
    Reply
  • ViRGE - Wednesday, December 15, 2004 - link

    #20, they can't compare it to a 6800NU because they don't have a PCIe 6800NU, it doesn't exist yet. This is a PCIe-only test, so everything tested needs to come in a PCIe variety. Reply
  • shabby - Wednesday, December 15, 2004 - link

    Very nice, but pci express my ass, the x800 is agp based sp why did they switch to pci-e? Reply
  • Questar - Wednesday, December 15, 2004 - link

    >>>
    Unfortunately, we could not test the overclockability of our X800 XL sample as none of the available tools would recognize, much less allow us to adjust the clock speed of the GPU
    >>>

    Didn't have a copy of Powerstrip around eh?
    Reply

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