Cooling, Noise, and Power
My last batch of testing focuses on a few of the performance aspects that people forget about when looking for a video card. While I game performance is important, you also need to keep in mind the cooling systems noise and heat performance as well as overall power draw. They are also aspects that are all specific to each manufacturer, so they are a great way to compare similar cards. To start things off I tested the power draw of our test bench with the 480 G1 Gaming installed while looping Valley Benchmark. This gives us a look at peak in game draw of the overall system, not just the card, to help find a good power supply. In this case, the G1 Gaming pulled 255 watts, 13 watts higher than the reference card but still significantly lower than the Sapphire RX 480 or the Sapphire RX 470 for that matter.
Next, I tested the overall noise output of the card using a decibel meter. Our office has a high ambient noise level so when doing this the test is done with the card on an open test bench and the results are from a short distance away from the fan side of the card, so keep in mind these aren’t numbers you would expect to hear with the card in a case and away from you. They do however let me get results that can be consistently compared against each other to see how much noise the fans make at 50% and 100% fan speeds. Surprisingly the G1 Gaming did very well here with both of the fan speeds giving results lower than most of the cards tested in the office this year.
The last test is my favorite and typically is the most informative. I test the cooling performance by looping Valley Benchmark looking for the highest temperature reached. I do this once with the stock fan settings and again with the fans cranked up to 100% fan speed. The reason for the two results is because one shows us what you can expect out of the box with the manufactures fan speed profiles and the 100% fan speed result lets us see how good the cooler can perform if needed. In this case, with the stock profiles, the G1 Gaming hardly performed any better than the reference RX 480, even letting the Sapphire card with its higher overclock and high power draw run a little cooler. With the fans cranked up though the results were a lot better. It looks like Gigabyte could use a little work on the fan profile, especially considering how quiet the cards fans ran in our tests, turning them up a little wouldn’t hurt.