Heat Levels

Heat and noise levels are related to power requirements, but we still wanted to see what kind of heat levels we would see with each of these cards during operation. We tested this in much the same way as in our power consumption tests. For the heat tests, we used ATI Tool, specifically the "scan for artifacts" function, which causes the GPU to continually draw a fuzzy cube in order to stress the card. After five minutes of stress testing, we then take the heat reading of the die through the software. We also take heat readings while the system is idle for reference.

Idle Heat

Load Heat

We found that NVIDIA did a little better in general at dissipating heat, with the exception of the silent XFX GeForce 7950 GT which saw the highest heat levels of the bunch, including even the 8800 GTX. This makes sense considering the card has no fan and instead uses a large passive heat sink to cool it down. The silent Gigabyte 7600 GS also saw high heat levels for the same reason. The larger-than-usual heat sink on the MSI NX7600 GT (non HDMI) seemed to do a good job at cooling the GPU, as this was one of our coolest running cards. Heat levels are something to consider if you plan on overclocking your card, if you are in a hot environment, or if you have poor case circulation. Under these conditions, active cooling solutions are generally preferrable.


Of more importance for these particular cards is the amount of noise they generate. Excess noise from GPU fans can be a hindrance when putting together a system that is as quiet running as possible for a home theater setup. To test noise we took the dB level of the room with the system off to determine the ambient noise level; this was 38.1 dB. We then took dB readings of the cards while running a stress test (the same as in our heat level tests) to determine how much noise the cards made during operation. These are our results.

Idle Noise

Load Noise

The ASUS EN7600 GT is particularly noisy. When the fan kicks in, it makes a much louder whine than it does when the system is idle. The Sapphire X1950 XTX was also fairly noisy once it got hot and the fan kicked in, but it seems to only speed up in short intervals. The EVGA 7900 GS KO also saw a high noise level under stress. We found that the EVGA and BFG 7950 GX2s both ran pretty quietly considering their performance, which is a nice feature of these cards. Of course the silent Gigabyte 7600 GS as well as the XFX 7950 GT HDCP would be good choices if you were looking for a card with zero noise, but it's especially nice having completely silent operation with a higher performance card like the 7950 GT. Because the noise level of these cards was 0Db, they were not included in the graphs, but the noise level of the CPU will still be a factor for HTPC users. Note that you will almost certainly want a case that provides sufficient cooling if you choose to run either of these fanless cards.

Power Final Words
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • DerekWilson - Friday, November 17, 2006 - link

    We chose Click because of it's bitrate, not because or its artistic value :-)
  • msva124 - Thursday, November 16, 2006 - link


    The fact that both the graphics card and display device must be HDCP capable, and most displays and graphics cards that people are currently using aren't HDCP compatible is a problem for consumers in general.
    Not really. The industry conforms to the the buyer, not the other way around.
  • Josh Venning - Thursday, November 16, 2006 - link

    Thanks for the comment, but the fact is that in the war against piracy, there is a lot of collateral damage.. Movie industries don't care if the consumer dislikes the fact that they have to upgrade their system in order to play the movie with the newest copy-protection standards. They only want to get rid of the pirates at whatever cost. This is why ultimately, everyone will have to conform.. or else not enjoy the benefits Bluray and HD DVD have to offer.
  • LoneWolf15 - Friday, November 17, 2006 - link


    This is why ultimately, everyone will have to conform.. or else not enjoy the benefits Bluray and HD DVD have to offer.
    However, if people fail to adopt (or are extremely slow to adopt) HDCP and balk in enough quantity, the resulting drop in sales would likely force the content industry to rethink its position.

    Don't think that I believe this is going to happen; I believe most consumers are sheep, and they'll go out and buy what is needed. Some of them may even pitch a fit that they have to, but they'll still likely do it because they want the content more. If Jane and Joe consumers across the globe said "We won't buy it" though, I think things would change. They would have to, or the loss in sales would eventually drive the content industry out of business.

    Gives me a chance to remind myself that sometimes Sunshine/Outdoors 1.0 beats a home theater though, when the choice is available. :)
  • DerekWilson - Friday, November 17, 2006 - link

    But the industry is feeding the consumer the line that this is the only way it can be. The average consumer doesn't know or understand that things /could/ be done a different way.

    The average consumer doesn't realize what he or she is giving up by buying into the industry's FUD. Pirates don't rape artists of their money. The very studios the artists work get their first.

    It'd be great if everyone would boycott BD and HDDVD. But it's not going to happen.
  • LoneWolf15 - Monday, November 20, 2006 - link

    I agree, Derek.

    One thought...considering that this was an HDCP review, I'd enjoy seeing a followup that did some work with evaluating video playback quality. I game, but I want an all-round card solution. This explains why I got rid of my Geforce 6800 --good gaming card, video playback was average quality on supported accelerated formats, and nVidia's PureVideo (rev. 1, or should I say 0.99) fiasco drove me away from them.

    I'd be very interested to see how the current PureVideoHD and Avivo technologies square off, both in CPU usage under H.264, but also playback quality.

    And, while I know things could be done a different way, my pessimism towards the future is high. It explains why HDCP support was a requirement in purchasing an LCD panel this week. This really stinks, I'd have chosen standard-aspect over widescreen except for that (almost no 20" standard displays with HDCP; I say almost rather than none, but I didn't find any). I had to get a much bigger widescreen to make up for lack or vertical height relative to a standard-aspect display.
  • Sunrise089 - Thursday, November 16, 2006 - link

    Not always - see the record industry for the ideal example of those that do not conform to anything other than their own outdated models.

    I'm an enthusiastic capitalist, but some industries or industry groups have been unable or unwilling to adapt to the rapid pace of technology driven change in the internet era. Such groups have oftentimes fallen back upon legal attempts to force the marketplace into accepting their idea of how buisness should be done. The RIAA and the companies it represents refused to understand the oppurtunities the internet created for them, AND they refused to offer the product the consumers desired, because it didn't fit their model. The iTunes success story has forced them to sit up and take notice, and now rather than try to finally offer what customers want, they continue to wish to put the genie back in the bottle, and try to offer digital content to consumers only when it can be made 'safe' through DRM. DRM is NOT a market driven movement, it's a movement that attempts to remove one of the central features of the internet era - increased ability to steal content. Well fine, but the studios must think they exist in a vacuum because all they want to talk about is that negitive, not the positive factor of FAR lower distribution cost, and zero physical production cost. So we have all this focus on piracy protection, at huge cost to the end-user, that has essentially reduced the product purchased from a copy of the original work, down to a semi-permanant pay-per-view license, but the cost of the 'product' has remained the same.

    Tell me where the market forces are here?
  • DerekWilson - Friday, November 17, 2006 - link

    The market forces are neatly tied up and tossed out with the garbage thanks to the VERY anti-consumer DMCA (digital millennium copyright act).

    We can hardly even ask for what we want without being shot down by the DMCA.

    Sure, we still have "fair use" rights. But the problem is that we can't touch the content to which we supposedly have fair use due to the legal protection afforded encrypted content by the DMCA.

    If we were given unprotected movies, it would still be illegal to copy and distribute this content. It's almost like car manufacturers making cars that could only be driven by one person: it's still illegal to steal a car, but now the owner is restricted in his legal uses for the car. The comparison is even more accurate if there were laws in place to keep the owner of a car from circumventing the restriction to allow another person to drive it.

    The only thing that DRM does is keep us from the myriad legal uses we could have for our movies (and music for that matter) that don't fall under just watching and listenting. Or didn't you know you had any right to use that content in other ways?

    We couldn't even show you screen shots of the movie to compare image quality -- screen capture must be disabled during video playback.

    Sorry for the rant -- this stuff just really bugs me.
  • mino - Wednesday, November 22, 2006 - link

    Well, me not.

    Before , at college I didn't buy a single DVD cause I have no money to spend on unnecessary stuff.

    Now I buys some DVD here and there.
    But hell!
    To ask equivalent of $30 for a DVD in a country where average daily wage is $25!!!

    Also, to send some ***hole from RIAA analogue to saturday local middle school kids performance to have them pay $200 for singing some 30yrs old forgotten song on public area!!!
    Are they crazy? [Yes, they are.]

    I rememmber the co-called "totalitarian" communism jet.
    And I can say, in that era people had far more liberties than they have in US now.

    Sure, one can have a gun now. But he can't even sing or use some frickin publicly known math algorithm someone pattented. WTF?
    Lets' patent the wheel!

    20yrs ago we could not critisize the government here. But pretty much anything other than that was allowed(legal). From owning (registered)guns to singing whatever your mouth was capable off.

    Now we are gonna have all of the wondelfull liberties ... or, better said, the corporations are gonna have all the wondelfull liberties.

    To topic: what happens if you use analog output? You mentioned that the playback software asked for analog output when non-HDCP card was found...
  • AGAC - Thursday, November 16, 2006 - link

    I thought I was going to read an article to help me choose what hardware should I have if I wanted to playback some HDCP media.

    Gaming benchmarks? Great! So now I know that a Geforce 8800 GTX is faster then a Radeon X1600! Thanks a lot.

    What about OS settings, WinXp and Linux compatibility (is BluRay for Vista only?), monitor options, which card supports video in, why monitor manufacturers don´t advertise their HDCP compliant displays? Should I buy a desktop monitor? Should I buy an HDTV? what about all of it? So many questions...

    I read it all and still don´t have a clue.

    Sorry for the rant, guys. It´s this HDCP joke they´re playing on us all. Blockbuster video nearby has HD-DVD and BR titles and I laugh at the shelf because I want to play those in my pc and don´t know how to do it. I don´t remember having so much trouble with computer media since the days with my MSX computer and it´s cassete tapes back in early 80´s.

    Regards from Brazil.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now