We have seen quite the evolution over the last 10 years in enthusiast PC building between CPU’s, GPU’s and Motherboard features. For a long time you could always count on the next wave of CPU’s having massive clock jumps and significant architecture changes to double your performance in some cases. These days we still see the significant architecture changes but the pure crank up the clocks has hit a bit of a wall. Intel and AMD moved to multi-core as the next wave of improvements but until everyone starts writing code to take advantage of this the gains can be minimal. GPU’s still jump ahead with leaps and bounds but they are starting to run into issue of managing heat and power if they keep throwing horsepower at the problem. What’s left to make large strides in performance, well power consumption of course. Green is the new black and the main thing that Intel and Nvidia touted for the Sandy Bridge and GF110 is much better use of juice.
To test power consumption for the whole system we connected one of our Kill-A-Watt meters to each of the systems and then we took three readings. The first one was the idle reading which we took after letting the systems sit on the desktop screen for 15 minutes. The second reading was after 30 minutes of game play on Battlefield Bad Company 2. The final reading was an attempt to force maximum power draw by running FurMark 1.9.1, Prime 95, and Crystal Disk Mark all at the same time. While this last test is highly unrealistic it does show a worst case scenario.
Here is the real difference between these two enthusiast builds, it is all about power. Intel and Nvidia are telling the truth about the current generation giving you more performance at a lower power and therefore heat level. These numbers show a 15%, 10%, and 13% reduction in power consumption between the systems respectively.
The MSI z68A-GD80 motherboard also helps out with power usage as it automatically scales back the the number of phases engaged from the 12 phase power design when the load is minimal. Further the use of DrMOS on the CPU PWM allows the MSI board to run at 2x higher current while maintaining 96% power efficiency. These design elements further improve power handling.
While a 30 Watt power difference on gaming might not be a huge savings that same 30 watts at idle means while you are sleeping or doing something other than gaming (who does that) those pennies are adding up. I can already feel my wallet getting fatter!