Cooling Noise and Power

For my last few tests, rather than focusing on in game performance, I like to check out other aspects of performance. These are also the most important ways to differentiate the performance between cards that have the same GPU. To start things off I took a look at power usage. For this, I use our Kill-A-Watt hooked up to the test bench to record the total wattage of the system. I ran two tests with the first using 3DMark Fire Strike to put the system under a load similar to normal in game performance. Here our test system with the RTX 3060 XC Black pulled 333 watts which put it right with the RTX 2060 SUPER at its stock speeds. The AIDA64 benchmark is more demanding of the GPU itself but doesn’t also load the CPU ended up at 266 watts which was again right in the middle of the 2060 SUPERs interestingly enough.

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My next round of tests were looking at noise levels. These are especially important to me because I can’t stand to listen to my PC whirling. Especially when I’m not in game and other applications are using the GPU. For my testing, though I first tested with the fan cranked up to 100% to get an idea of how loud it can get, then again at 50% to get an idea of its range. With the XC Blacks dual fans cranked up to 100% they put out 55.8 dB which put the card down in the bottom 1/3 of the cards tested. Its 50% fan speed results weren’t bad as well at 34.8 dB with just two cards coming in quieter. Of course having two fans also means that when under load they have to do more work, so after running AIDA64 for a half-hour with the stock fan profile the XC Black came in right in the middle of the pack at 37.4 dB and interestingly right with the RTX 2060 SUPER FE once again. I will have to wait until we test more RTX 3060’s to see how this compares, but I would bet that larger cards will come in a little lower. But this isn’t bad considering the size of the card.

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To finish up my testing I of course had to check out the cooling performance. To do this I ran two different tests. I used AIDA64’s Stress Test run for a half-hour each to warm things up. Then I documented what temperature the GPU leveled out at with the stock fan profile and then again with the fans cranked up to 100%. With the stock profile, the RTX 3060 XC Black ran surprisingly cool at 58c which was near the bottom of our charts. The 100% fan speed results weren’t as impressive, but this is a dual fan card that is short, not three slots wide, or taller than the PCI bracket. Overall the delta between the results was 11 degrees showing that there is still a little room, but not a lot if a big overclock is in your future.

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While running the stock fan profile testing I also took the time to get a few thermal images so we could see what is going on. Without a backplate, the 3060 XC Black does give us a more direct look at the thermals on the back of the card. You can see the hottest area starting at the center where the GPU is as well as to the right with the VRMs. The other end with the holes cut out for airflow runs much cooler. At the top of the card, the air venting out of the top is focused the most right above the two fans and has a big thermal difference compared to the shroud. You also don’t see too hot of an area on the underside as well which is nice. Then fan side we can see that same hot spot in the center and on the left which is right in between the two fans letting them both share the load with the heatpipes pulling the heat out across the card.

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