Smaller Die + More Performance = More Power

Power isn't going to be straight forward here, as this is both a die shrink and an overclock. If all other things were equal, the die shrink would have enabled a some power savings, but increasing the clock speeds (and likely voltages) means that we have factors at work that will push against each other. As for which will win, let's take a look at the data and find out.

Since we didn't take a look at power in our GeForce GTX 295 article, we'll keep an eye on that card as well. Also, keep in mind that there have been 55nm GTX 260s being slowly phased in but that our GTX 260 parts are 65nm. The 55nm GTX 260s will show a power advantage over similarly clocked 65nm GTX 260s.

Idle power shows that NVIDIA is able to get some power savings when nothing is going on with the GPU. Power draw at idle decreased by about 10W with the move to 55nm which shows that in addition to their power saving features the die shrink does help. This advantage carries over to SLI as well with the GTX 285 SLI landing between the two single card dual-GPU systems.

The GeForce GTX 295 slides in just above the single GPU 4870 1GB while AMD's 4870 X2 consumes about 10W more than NVIDIA's higher performing dual-GPU card.

We see a different story when we look at load power. In spite of the die shrink, the added overclock pushes the GeForce GTX 285 higher under load than any other single GPU part. When SLI is enabled this becomes the most power hungry dual card setup we tested.

As for the GeForce GTX 295, we once again see good performance with lower power draw than the Radeon HD 4870 X2 and, in fact, less power draw than all the other dual-GPU setups we tested.

While a half node die shrink isn't the holy grail of power savings, the major advantage for NVIDIA comes from the die size decrease. We don't have measurements on the GPU after the shrink (we don't want to tear apart our hardware until we've tested things like 3-way SLI), but with the massive size of GT200 and the heavy price cuts NVIDIA was forced to make shortly after launch, the cost savings is a very important factor in this move.

NVIDIA needs to keep its price competitive and that means it needs to keep its costs down. Building an overclocked GTX 280 helps raise the price while building the parts at 55nm helps lower the cost. NVIDIA wants this card to be successful.

Race Driver GRID Performance Final Words


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  • Gorghor - Tuesday, January 27, 2009 - link

    Actually more of a retorical question than anything else. Sales haven't been good and no support for dual DVI when using the Hybrid Power mode are the reasons I've heard about. I still don't understand why they don't push these Hybrid technologies.

    I mean, in a day and age where everybody's talking about saving our planet, it just seems idiotic to push ever more power hungry graphic cards eating up as much as a 600 liter marine aquarium. What a damned waste, not to mention the fact that electricity is far from cheap (any of you tried living in Germany?). The worse part is that the technology exists and works (both from ATI and Nvidia) in laptops, so it can't be all that complicated to make a decent version for the desktop. It's just that no one seems to care...

    Well I for one can't stand the idea of wasting power on an idle graphics card that could just as well be disabled when I'm not gaming (read: 99% of the time). And I wish more people would think the same.

    Sorry 'bout the rant, just makes me angry!
  • veryhumid - Monday, January 26, 2009 - link

    One thing I'd like to see is some older cards in the mix... just a couple. Maybe a GX2, 8800GT... recently popular cards. I'm curious to see how big and how fast the performance gap gets over a fairly short period of time. Reply
  • MadBoris - Monday, January 19, 2009 - link

    A couple things...

    Here we have a die shrink and you are apparently more interested if you can save a few watts rather than how high the OC can go?

    I think most when looking at this card would be more interested if it can do 10% overclock rather than 10% power savings.

    How high does it OC, did I miss it somewhere?

    People aren't buying brute force top-end video cards for their power consumption just like a Ferrari isn't purchased for it's gas mileage. I'm not saying power consumption doesn't have a place but it's a distant second to performance that a die shrink offers in stable OC potential.

    I also have to echo the statements about 2560x1600, being the standard chart, may need some rethinking. I get it that at those resolutions that is where these cards shine and start leaving behind weaker cards. BUT it's a very small percentage of readership that has 30" monitors. I'm at 24" with 1920 and that is probably not common. It would seem to make the best sense to target primarily the most common resolutions which people may be tempted to purchase for. Probably 1680 or 1920 most likely. Cheaper video cards do much better in comparison at smaller resolutions, which are the actual resolutions most are using. I get it that the chart below shows the different resolutions but that is where 2560 should be found, it shouldn't be the defacto standard. Reminds me of using 3dmark and how the numbers don't reflect reality, ofcourse these cards look good at 2560 but that isn't what we have.
    ~My 2 cents.

  • SiliconDoc - Monday, January 19, 2009 - link

    Yes, the power savings freakism to save the whales, and the polar bears, is out of control. After all that, the dips scream get a 750 watt or 1000 watt, or you're in trouble, park that 400-500 you've been using - or the 300 in many cases no doubt. Talk about blubbering hogwash...and ATI loses in the power consumption war, too, and even that is covered up - gosh it couldn't be with that "new tech smaller core" .....
    Now of course when NVidia has a top end card for high rezolution, it's all CRAP - but we NEVER heard that whine with the 4870 - even though it only excelled at HIGHER and HIGHEST resolution and aa af - so that's how they got in the RUT of 2560x - it showed off the 4870 in all it's flavors for 6 months - and they can't help themselves doing it, otherwise the 4870 SUCKS, and SUCKS WIND BADLY... and get spanked about quite often.
    The high rez shows and reviews are for the red team bias win - and now suddenly when it six months of endless red raving for 2650x - all the eggheads realize they don't have that resolution sitting in front of them - because guess who - BLABBERED like mad about it.
    :-) YEP
    The only one to point it out on the 4870x2 and the like - and boy was I crushed... gosh what a fanboy...
    But now it's all the rave- so long as it's directed at NVidia.
    AND - the lower benchies make the ati top cards look CRAPPY in comparison.
    Oh well, I'm sure the reds know it - maybe they love the possibility of higher fps if they ever pop for a 30".

    All I can say is thank you NVidia for finally straightening out the DERANGED MINDS of the 4870 loverboys.

    Thank you, Nvidia - you may have cured thousands this time.
  • hk6900 - Saturday, February 21, 2009 - link

    Die painfully okay? Prefearbly by getting crushed to death in a
    garbage compactor, by getting your face cut to ribbons with a
    pocketknife, your head cracked open with a baseball bat, your stomach
    sliced open and your entrails spilled out, and your eyeballs ripped
    out of their sockets. Fucking bitch

    I really hope that you get curb-stomped. It'd be hilarious to see you
    begging for help, and then someone stomps on the back of your head,
    leaving you to die in horrible, agonizing pain. *beep*

    Shut the *beep* up f aggot, before you get your face bashed in and cut
    to ribbons, and your throat slit.

    You're dead if I ever meet you in real life, f ucker. I'll f ucking
    kill you.

    I would love to f ucking send your f ucking useless ass to the
    hospital in intensive care, fighting for your worthless life.">

    I wish you a truly painful, bloody, gory, and agonizing death, *beep*
  • MadBoris - Monday, January 19, 2009 - link

    All the green and red aside...I didn't mean to bash AT or Derek.
    Just wondering what happened to the reviews of years back when we had more than just one chart to gawk at and make determinations for a product. With more charts we could analyse easier, or maybe their was a summary. The paper launch review, was just that, and maybe this limited review is kind of a message to Nvidia to not paper launch but...we lose.

    Even though this is just a refresh with a die shrink, I still think it's worth revisiting and restating some of what may be obvious to some who breathe GPU's, but which I don't remember from 6 months ago.

    Like...the whole landscape for todays purchasing decisions.
    Effects of CPU scaling, AA and AF penalties for a card, which resolutions make sense for a high end card with a GB memory.
    You don't have to test it and graph it but give us a reminder like 4x AA is free with this card and not this one, or CPU scaling doesn't mean as much as it once did, or this card doesn't make sense below 1680x1050, or this amount of memory isn't quite needed these days unless you are at 2560, etc. A reminder is good. I was surprised not to see a mention of highest OC and what % perf that gets you in the same article talking die shrink, so things have changed. OC isn't the black art it once was, it's often supported right in the mfr drivers so it shouldn't be passed up. I always run my HW at a comfortable OC (several notches back from highest stable), why wouldn't I if it's rock solid.

    I like 1 GB memory but there's only a few games that can break my 640MB GTS barrier (oblivion w/ tweaks, Crysis w/ tweaks, maybe there are others I don't have). I'd like 1GB more if Win 7 wasn't still supporting 32 bit and then we can see devs start using bigger footprints. But due to multiplatforming and the one size fits all lowest common denominator console hardware being the cookie cutter, well 1GB memory means less than it probably ever did in the last couple years since games won't be utilizing it.
  • SiliconDoc - Tuesday, January 20, 2009 - link

    I like all your suggestions there. As for the reviewer(Derek), I can't imagine the various pressures and mess to put together even one review, so I don't expect much all the time, and I don't expect a reviewer to not have a favorite- and even push for it in their pieces - consciously or otherwise. The reader needs to allow for and understand that.
    I think what we do get should be honestly interpreted and talked about (isn't that really the whole point besides the interest and entertaining valuie), so I'm more about straightening out longstanding hogwash the overclocking masses repeat.
    You made some fine points I hope Derek sees it - I just imagine they are crushed for time of late, perhaps the economic cutbacks have occured at AnAnd as well - but a bit of what you pointed out should be easy enough. Maybe they will roll it in.
  • hk6900 - Saturday, February 21, 2009 - link

    Get murdered, cunt Reply
  • MadBoris - Monday, January 19, 2009 - link

    In all fairness, Derek does summarize some of what one can draw from the numbers, atleast mainly 2560 graphs and how it compares to the 280 price/perf. But like my subject states you can't please everyone, I guess I would like to see more, maybe that is just me. Reply
  • Muzzy - Saturday, January 17, 2009 - link

    The box said "HDMI", but I don't see any HDMI port on the card. What am I missing? Reply

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