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


View All Comments

  • Some Guy - Monday, February 13, 2006 - link

    I'm satisfied with X800 XL card for playing the game America's Army, very smooth graphics even with 3D settings cranked up to the highest level at 1024x768 resolution. With my previous ATI All-In-Wonder 9600 XT AGP card the game was unplayable, I was "stuck in the matrix" so to speak even when no network lag present. I replaced with ATI All-In-Wonder X800 XL PCI-E, and now I get amazing results, great fun!

    I'm disappointed with the TV Tuner, ATI screwed things up big time. With my old 9600 AGP card I could repeatedly press the arrow up or arrow down keys on my keyboard to switch channels instantly with no problem. Now with my new X800 XL PCI-E card I press the arrow key and it takes 1 second before changing to next channel, then once it switched channel I lose sound for 1 second and then it come back to normal. Problem persists whether activating onboard audio or installing PCI Sound Blaster card.

    With the X800 XL card I have to reboot my computer every time I want to open the TV Tuner, otherwise I get dangerously loud white noise in my headphones, around 110 dB I think. Considering the earing damage limit is 85 dB, are ATI trying to make my ears bleed or something?

    While watching TV the image freeze frequently, the TV Tuner won't respond anymore so I have to reboot my computer. Also I must point out that I'm not dealing with a cheap no-name motherboard here. I'm using the ASUS A8R-MVP with the ATI CrossFire chip integrated onboard, this motherboard was supposedly designed specifically for ATI video cards, one would think they figured how to build stable drivers on their own hardware.

    Don't bother with X800 XL if you plan on watching TV on your computer, this card is pure crap. Sure it does works fine for gaming, but this makes no sense, for a comparable price why not buy a better standalone graphic card specially for that.
  • Gerbil333 - Wednesday, February 09, 2005 - link

    Perhaps the $299 price is correct. It may be a matter of supply and demand. Resellers could be making a huge profit on the cards they do have, and within a few months the prices will deflate to the correct MSRP. That's how it always goes. Or, maybe ATI changed their mind... Reply
  • deathwalker - Friday, February 04, 2005 - link

    When are these flagrent B/S articles going to stop. I am tired of reading reviews on both Anandtech and Tom's Hardware based on mis-information and hear say. Lets get the research done properly before going to press!!...$299 my butt!! a minimum be more objective in your expectations concerning pre-release misinformation that these graphics card developers always love to pump you guys up with just to get you to hype there products....grrrrr Reply
  • bupkus - Thursday, January 20, 2005 - link

    Here it is January 20th and the only store that lists the X800XL is for $449.
  • coolme - Sunday, January 09, 2005 - link

    How did you guys measure the wattage of these cards?
    You guys did a review before :
    and the wattage numbers on both of the reviews don't look right at all... after all, the AMD processor case could only dissapate just below 200 watts.
  • T8000 - Saturday, December 18, 2004 - link

    How about the 6800GT 128MB? That AGP card does sell for about $300 today and it seems to perform close to the 256MB version in todays games.

    So the available 6800GT 128MB should perform about the same as the unavailable X800XL.
  • TinyTeeth - Friday, December 17, 2004 - link

    That HL2 runs slowly on FX cards doesn't necessarily mean that Valve intentionally wanted it to. I think it has to do with the failures in the FX design. I see no reason why Valve should optimize the game for DX8.1 graphics processors. Reply
  • GTMan - Thursday, December 16, 2004 - link

    The graphs show the ATI part using more power but in the text you say ATI has the advantage in power consumption??? Reply
  • quanta - Thursday, December 16, 2004 - link

    Half-Life 2 should not be used for benchmarking. There is growing evidence that Valve crippled NVIDIA cards to make ATI cards to run faster[1]. Although this affects more to GeForce FX cards, the extra bandwidth incurred for using 32-bit shaders vs 16-bit could make a difference on frame rates. Regardless of who is at fault, unless the situation is resolved, Half Life 2 is deemed unsuitable for benchmarking purposes.

  • Executor6 - Thursday, December 16, 2004 - link

    Good review. I'm particularly grateful for the inclusion of non-standard games like Bloodlines and Pirates. Most of the games I play do not have Doom or Half-Life or Unreal in their name, and its nice to be able to gauge the performance of a card in games that Nvidia and ATI have not bothered to optimize their drivers for. Reply

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