Temperature & Acoustics / Power Consumption
For all temperature testing, the cards were placed on an open test bench with a single 120mm 1200RPM fan placed ~8” away from the heatsink. The ambient temperature was kept at a constant 22°C (+/- 0.5°C). If the ambient temperatures rose above 23°C at any time throughout the test, all benchmarking was stopped. For this test we use the 3DMark Batch Size test at its highest triangle count with 4xAA and 16xAF enabled and looped it for one hour to determine the peak load temperature as measured by GPU-Z.
For Idle tests, we let the system idle at the Windows 7 desktop for 15 minutes and recorded the peak temperature.
Let’s start with the good news first: MSI’s Twin Frozr heatsink is as efficient as ever and provided extremely low temperatures. However, EVGA’s Superclocked returned higher than expected temperatures. 84 degrees is by no mean high but we’d prefer to see this staying under 80 degrees in order to ensure the card has sufficient TDP overhead to attain its Boost frequencies.
We have been assured by EVGA that this is an exception rather than the rule and in reaching out to our fellow reviewers, it seems the Superclocked should be running at well under 80 degrees. Our results, while still perfectly acceptable, could be due to anything from a lack of mounting pressure to misapplied thermal compound. Indeed, after our benchmarks and photos were complete, we reinstalled the heatsink with some MX-2 TIM and temperatures sank by nearly 10 degrees. Note that all overclocking results were done with this slightly modified approach.
What you see below are the baseline idle dB(A) results attained for a relatively quiet open-case system (specs are in the Methodology section) sans GPU along with the attained results for each individual card in idle and load scenarios. The meter we use has been calibrated and is placed at seated ear-level exactly 12” away from the GPU’s fan. For the load scenarios, a loop of Unigine Heave 2.5 is used in order to generate a constant load on the GPU(s) over the course of 20 minutes.
Ironically, EVGA’s card might post some of the highest temperatures but it also boasts an extremely small acoustical footprint. The MSI Twin Frozr OC meanwhile posts impressive results and was nearly silent throughout testing.
System Power Consumption
For this test we hooked up our power supply to a UPM power meter that will log the power consumption of the whole system twice every second. In order to stress the GPU as much as possible we once again use the Batch Render test in 3DMark06 and let it run for 30 minutes to determine the peak power consumption while letting the card sit at a stable Windows desktop for 30 minutes to determine the peak idle power consumption. We have also included several other tests as well.
Please note that after extensive testing, we have found that simply plugging in a power meter to a wall outlet or UPS will NOT give you accurate power consumption numbers due to slight changes in the input voltage. Thus we use a Tripp-Lite 1800W line conditioner between the 120V outlet and the power meter.
The GTX 660 is a very efficient card but due to its high base and Boost frequencies, power consumption remains ever so slightly above a HD 7870. This shouldn’t be of any concern for gamers with entry level 400W power supplies. In addition, it really is amazing to see how far NVIDIA has progressed on this front considering their GTX 560 Ti is the previous generation’s GTX 660 analog and it consumes significantly more power.
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