Temperature & Power Consumption
Since video card temperatures and the heat generated by next-generation cards have become an area of concern among enthusiasts and gamers, we want to take a closer look at how the graphics cards do at idle and under a full load.
The system was left at idle at the windows desktop for 10 minutes for the idle temperature to be taken. To get the highest load temperature possible we fired up Furmark and ran the stability test at 1920×1200 for just over 10 minutes. This was enough to put the GPU core at 100% and have temperatures plateau for several minutes. The fans on the video card were left on auto during temperature testing. After testing it typically took 3-5 minutes for temperatures to return to roughly their idle levels.
Surprisingly enough at idle the card flashed with the 6970 BIOS ran slightly cooler then the stock 6950. This appears to be due to a higher idle fan speed on the 6970 BIOS. The increase in max load temperature between the 6950 and 6970 BIOS was minimal however we believe this to be caused by AMD PowerTune limiting the card which we will come back to later. Fan noise during this test was bearable, with the sound only being slightly audible over the CPU cooler fans.
For testing power consumption, we took our test system and plugged it into a Kill-A-Watt power meter. For idle numbers, we allowed the system to idle on the desktop for 15 minutes and took the reading. For load numbers we measured the peak wattage used by the system while running the OpenGL benchmark FurMark at 1920×1200 resolution.
Power Consumption Results: The BIOS upgrade during testing appears to only have had minimal effect on the card at idle. At full load however the upgraded card consumes quite a bit more power, reaching its specification limit (225 W). It appears that this was the limiting factor in this upgrade, with AMD’s PowerTune throttling the card when reaching this limit. This limit can be raised however using ATI Overdrive which should increase numbers even further.