Power, Temperature, & Noise

Last but not least as always is our look at the power consumption, temperatures, and acoustics of the Radeon HD 6790. Our power usage data should closely mirror any other 6790, but given the unique design of our card versus what AMD’s partners are going with, we can’t fully account for all the different designs.

On that note, at this point we do not know what the 6790’s default voltage is. None of our usual low-level tools recognize the 6790; it’s possible that AMD is using different controllers than on the 6800 series, or perhaps it’s related to drivers. In any case we believe it’s close to the 6870’s voltage of 1.17v, but we can’t measure it at this time.

Idle power consumption rarely changes among the different tiers of a GPU, so the fact that the 6790 pulls almost as much power at idle as the 6800 series should not come as a surprise. It does end up being worse than the GTX 550 Ti, but almost exactly alike the GTX 460.

Given AMD’s TDP numbers, we were expecting our power results to closely shadow our 6870 results. Instead we had a pleasant surprise: power consumption under Crysis is higher than the 6850, but not significantly so. In fact it’s still below the GTX 550 Ti even though it significantly outperforms said video card on this game, and even compared to the 5770 it’s not significantly worse for the 6790’s performance advantage. Not that it’s great to be consuming more power than a 6850 for less performance, but it could very well have been worse.

The situation under Furmark is even better surprisingly enough. The 6790 consumes less power than the 6850 here – not a ton less, but less. Perhaps more surprising is that compared to the 5770 it’s only consuming 3W more; this Barts chip may have a lot of functional units disabled, but that’s still quite remarkable, and is all the more proof of the optimizations AMD made for Barts compared to Cypress. This also makes it look exceptionally good versus the GTX 550 Ti and GTX 460 768MB, as it’s consuming 40-45W less.

With idle power consumption being identical to the 6800 series and using the same cooler, the idle temperature is similarly close.

Given the power numbers we saw earlier, the 6870’s cooler ends up being overkill for the 6790. As a result Crysis temperatures are quite low, although the fully exhausting cooler can’t keep up with the open cooler of the GTX 460. Then again our 5770 is an open cooler, and it’s still much warmer. Keep in mind that this is going to highly vary with the design of the cooler the partner uses though.

Temperatures under Furmark closely trend Crysis. An open cooler might be able to get the 6790 down to the low 70s.

Idle noise is identical to the 6800 series, as we’d expect.

Load noise is where the wheels begin to fall off on our 6790 sample. The card does so well with regards to power consumption and temperature, but noise is just as bad as the 6870. This undoubtedly is due to how AMD tweaked the 6790 engineering sample – which is to say it likely hasn’t been optimized much if at all since it won’t go into production. Given the power data we’ve seen the 6790 doesn’t need to be much louder than a 6850, so hopefully partner cards will reflect this. If not, the worst case scenario may very well be having all the noise of a 6870 and not nearly the performance.

Compute & Tessellation Final Thoughts
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  • Belard - Tuesday, April 5, 2011 - link

    Actually - AMD's 3000~5000 have been rather consistent. The 6000s is kind of like the 2000s. They should have stuck with the 3-5 series, everything would have made more sense.

    So that the 6850 should have been the 6750 since its not really better than an actual 5850. They said they did this to not cause confusion with the 5700 series which was not to be replaced - but INSTEAD ended up being relabeled into the 6600~6700s for the OEM market. The new "AMD" GPU first step with their branded was stupid and confusing. Not impressed.

    Nvidia? Those nut-jobs are master at confusion.
    GTX / GT / GTS are meaningless, especially in front of a model number. Seriously, to say "GeForce GTX 550 Ti" is plain stupid. "GeForce 550" is all that is needed or "Geforce 5 GTX, Geforce 5 GT etc".

    Are there GF GTX 560 and a GF GT 560 and a GF GTS 560? Uh, no.

    What happen to the Geforce 300 series? Oh yeah - OEM relabeled bottom end GF200 series. They skipped into the 400 series. Then there is the GF465 and GF 465 768MB... which is more than JUST a memory difference. They should have called it the 465 (with 1GB) and 460 (with 768) since there is ALWAYS a performance hit with the 768mb version of the card.
    Then Nvidia brings back the "TI" tag to remind us OLD TIMERS of the days of excellent GF4000 series... which is idiotic as hell.

    What?! Is there a GF 550 and a GF 550TI? Screw that, I want the NON TI version because its faster. Oh yeah, its just a few letters suck on the end that are meaningless.

    The GF 500 series is the exact same tech as the GF400 series, but fully functional. ie: fixed. But calling them the 500 series makes them look better / newer.

    I expect Nvidia to have the "GeForce GTX 785 TI Ultra" on the market around March 2012.
  • kedesh - Tuesday, April 5, 2011 - link

    my question is, can i crossfire this card up with my current one (5750)? consitering i have the correct motherboard? no where on the internet can i find an answer.
  • WhatsTheDifference - Tuesday, April 5, 2011 - link

    is the 4890 excluded from ALL benchies? the problem is...? ban the 285 from just one article and we'll witness just exactly what?

  • Lex Luger - Thursday, April 7, 2011 - link

    There hasnt been much improvement with video cards since the 90 nm 8800 GTX and GTS.

    Those were probalby the greatest cards ever in terms of performance boost vs the previous generation.
  • slickr - Thursday, April 7, 2011 - link

    What is the point testing a mediocre graphic card at 1600 and higher resolutions?

    Most people are going to be playing at lower resolutions with that graphic card and their PC's are certainly not Core I 950 with 12GB ram, so they would be playing at resolutions of 1200x1024 or 1400x1050.

    I mean we need more realistic representation of these cards and not some scenario that would never happen.
  • shady28 - Friday, April 8, 2011 - link

    Seems GPUs are dead on the PC until and unless something that can actually use them comes along.

    I agree with a previous poster - the 8800GT / GTS series was 'good enough'. There are only a handfull of games that really need anything more, so now all these cards are relegated to a niche market.

    Now tablet GPUs, that's a different story, but people are still mostly developing for the lowest common denominator there too.
  • IloveCharleneChoi - Friday, April 8, 2011 - link

    I don‘t care more about HD6790 and 550TI,The cards new released are usually expensive . hd6850 here is less than $150 in Nanjing,China.HD6850 can do better than GTX460 in many games,and of course it can beat 6790 or 550TI.SO WHY CHOOSE 6790?
  • iamezza - Sunday, April 10, 2011 - link

    Thanks Ryan for another great article :)

    I can't believe all the fruit loops posting in the comments here!
  • thenemesis2 - Monday, October 3, 2011 - link

    I this the best card for mild gaming on a Shuttle SandyBridge box with only one 6 pci-e connector and 300w psu?

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