Cooling Noise and Power

For my last few tests, rather than focusing on in game performance, I like to check out other aspects of video card 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, our new test setup utilizes the Nvidia-designed PCat v2 along with cables to handle both traditional 6 or 8-pin connections as well as the new 12VHPWR. The PCat also utilizes a PCIe adapter to measure any power going to the card through the PCIe slot so we can measure the video card wattage exclusively, not the entire system as we have done in the past. I test with a mix of applications to get both in game, synthetic benchmarks, and other workloads like Blender and AIDA64. Then everything is averaged together for our result. I also have the individual results for this specific card and I document the peak wattage result as well which is almost always Time Spy Extreme. The RTX 4080 SUPER Founders Edition averaged 326 watts across the different peak results which is 16 watts higher than the original RTX 4080. The peak power however was higher at 393 watts to 368 watts for the original for a delta of 25 watts. The bump in power still has the RTX 4080 SUPER Founders Edition behind the RTX 3080 and well below the RX 7900 XT let alone the 7900 XTX which was 402 watts on the average, 76 watts above the RTX 4080 SUPER Founders Edition.

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With having exact peak wattage numbers when running Time Spy Extreme I was also able to put together a graph showing the total score for each watt that a card draws which gives us an interesting look at overall power efficiency in the popular and demanding benchmark. With this test, I really wasn’t sure if the RTX 4080 SUPER Founders Edition would end up going up or down this chart. Officially it has the same TGP as the original RTX 4080 but as we saw in the previous test the average and peak numbers did go up and we know that the performance improvement while consistent wasn’t a big jump. All of that does show here with the RTX 4080 SUPER Founders Edition sitting at 36.37 points per watt which is still impressive but just a hair behind the new RTX 4070 SUPER and 1.63 points per watt lower than the original RTX 4080. This is still 3 points over the 7900 XTX but in getting the performance bump the overall efficiency did drop a little.

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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. The RTX 4080 SUPER Founders Edition fell right into the middle of the pack on both the 50% and 100% fan speed tests and surprise surprise the original RTX 4080 Founders Edition is right there with it on the 100% fan speed result. That shouldn’t be a surprise given that they are basically the same cooler other than the color.

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I also take a look at noise performance while under load. For that when running AIDA64’s stress test I wait until the temperature of the card has leveled off and then measure how loud things are when the card is at its worst-case scenario with the stock fan profile. Here the RTX 4080 SUPER Founders Edition did better than you might expect for a Founders Editon card with the stock fan profile coming in at just 37.1 decibels. This was right in the middle with cards like the 2070 SUPER and 2060 SUPER as well and was just below the RTX 4080 as well. The card was running at 42% fan speed when under load which is a big reason for the quiet performance.

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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 4080 SUPER Founders Edition was running at 62c in our load test. There is a big clump of cards all running at that same temperature including the original RTX 4080. The AMD RX 7900 XTX on the other hand for comparison is up a little higher at 68c. For GPU Hotspot the RTX 4080 SUPER Founders Edition was running cool at 76c, down near the bottom of our chart and memory was at just 58c which is great as well. Both were a little warmer than the original RTX 4080 FE but still a lot better than almost everything else tested.   

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Then with the fans cranked up, the RTX 4080 SUPER Founders Edition moved up into the top 1/3 of the chart at 57c. This is a delta of just 5c and shows that while the cooler performs great there isn’t much headroom left beyond what Nvidia is already doing with it. The GPU hotspot dropped down 6c to 70c and the memory temps dropped 8c down to 50c.

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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. The fan side view of the RTX 4080 SUPER Founders Edition in the thermals ranged from as low as 31c to 41c which isn’t too bad. That small range makes the card look hot on the right side but most of the card with it having the heatsink exposed is the same temperature. It is cooler behind the front side fan but that is about it. Even up on the top edge, it is similar with the top edge going from 34.3c to 42.2c and the hottest areas being in that center section with the exposed heatsink and where there is a gap between the heatsink and the PCB. Around on the back, there are a few warmer spots on the backplate which isn’t getting much airflow on our open-air testbench with the hottest being 45.8c down at the bottom edge behind the GPU. The fan doesn’t show as cool as on the front but that is because this is a pull fan, not a push so we are seeing the exhaust side of it.

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