Two weeks ago, a big special on the topic of power requirements and power costs of a gaming PC came out, which naturally generated a lot of interest among our readers. We would therefore like to revisit the topic by putting together a few example PCs and using relatively energy efficient components for the respective performance class. We then calculate how expensive gaming fun would be if you paid less attention to power efficiency. We also include games consoles as an alternative in the calculation – but first it’s about graphics cards.
Graphics card: power consumption per FPS
How efficient is the current line of graphics cards? Is it worth spending more on two equally powerful graphics cards to save on electricity costs during use? The power consumption of a graphics card cannot be derived directly from its performance or from the GPU clock. This becomes clear when, for example, you look at the entry-level AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT graphics card. This is extremely weak compared to what other modern graphics cards offer – but compared to older models, it corresponds to the previous top graphics card Radeon R9 390 (Release 2015).
The old R9 390 was clocked at around 1000 MHz and required over 270 watts of power. Despite a clock rate of over 2500 MHz, a good 100 watts is sufficient for the modern RX 6500 XT. This shows how important the technology and its effectiveness is. Even within modern graphics card series, there is definitely a difference in where it pays to buy a more efficient graphics card.
We have created a graphic for you where you can see how much current the current graphics cards require and how efficient they are, i.e. how many FPS per watts that can be expected as a result. It is important to know that consumption data and performance values are average values. Depending on the game, it may also happen that the values and positions change slightly.
The exact power consumption can also depend on the game settings and resolution, and of course – we also described this as a power saving tip in the above special – many graphics cards can be assigned a maximum power consumption using driver tools.
For graphics, we give the AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT a performance score of 100 – put simply, this can be seen as achieving 100 FPS in a given game. For example, the RX 6650 XT has a value of 51 – so it only manages 51 FPS in this game. We now divide the average power consumption of each graphics card (in watts) by its performance value to get a sort of “power consumption per FPS”.
Since this results in values like 2.9, we always multiply the result by 100. Otherwise, the associated bars would be far too short, since we also want to include power demand bars in the graphic. Now this is our graphical overview where a smaller efficiency value is better as it requires less watts per unit. FPS:
Source: Antonio Funes
Important: We arrange the cards by their performance and enter the performance value directly with the name of the graphics card series. So you can see how performance looks for graphics cards that are close to each other in terms of performance. But the graphics card’s price-performance ratio is also not unimportant – the following graphic shows the current status (lower values for price-performance are better):
Source: Antonio Funes
But even that is not the end of the road. If a graphics card is at the top in terms of price-performance, but weak in terms of power efficiency, after, for example, three years of use, it may end up being more expensive than the alternative graphics card with the weaker price-performance ratio. On the next page, we have therefore prepared two example calculations with two pairs of graphics cards and a consideration of six AMD-Nvidia duels.