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 XFX RX 6700 XT MERC 319 pulled 357 watts which was 13 watts more than the MSI. The AIDA64 stress test results were a little different, the MSI pulled more there with 10 watts more pulled. Then I also have the software level results which look at what the GPU itself is pulling. This is where each card is setting its target and the XFX in the balanced mode was running at 212 watts here, 9 watts more than the MSI. That result helps explain the XFX having an edge even at the same clock speed as well.
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. The XFX RX 6700 XT MERC 319 wasn’t exactly quiet. In my 100% fan speed test it came in up in the top portion of our charts with a few cards like the 6800 XT MERC 319 slightly ahead as well as AMD's old 5000 series reference cards which were extremely loud. At 50% fan speed, the XFX RX 6700 XT MERC 319 was better but still in the upper portion of the cards tested. Then for the most important test, the under load testing the XFX RX 6700 XT MERC 319 was loud once again.
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 MERC 319 did extremely well coming in at just 47 degrees putting it down at the bottom of our charts. The large card/cooler helps a lot with that. Cranking the fans up to 100% it cooled down more to 41c but overall the delta between the two was smaller than you would expect at 6c. It seems like the stock profile could be tuned down more which would help with the noise performance while still leaving room on the cooling.
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. The fan side showed the temps on the XFX RX 6700 XT MERC 319 running nice and low. The hottest spots were on the bottom half of the fan where there is less airflow but even there they weren’t really hot at all. The top edge shows the top venting working well. Then the hottest spot I found was on the backplate right where the GPU is. But it is good to see that heat is transferring to the backplate as well to help pull that away.