How to Turn a Graphic Card off and off?

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How to Turn a Graphic Card off and off?

Postposted on Fri Oct 21, 2011 4:13 pm

Hello!
I want to build a PC for general use, home movie downloading, video editing, photo editing /repair/enlarging, putting my home movies in so I can burn them to DVDs and do a little game playing.

I want to put a GeForce GTX 560 Ti graphic card in the build. However, since I plan on a little gaming, I will not use the card much. So it will be drawing power that is not needed most of the time. My question: Can I put in a switch that will shut the card's power off and on?

Is there a better way to stop the card from drawing power without taking it out? If so, I would certainly like to know, please.

I’m going to use an Asus P87Z68-V Pro motherboard and put in an i7-2600 CPU. As I understand it, the Z68 is supposed to switch to the integrated graphic processor when there is little of no need for higher graphic power . When there is a need for higher power, the discrete graphic card "is suppose to" automatically come on.

I’ve read in a couple of places (I don’t remember where.) that the above function does not work well. That’s why I would like to manually turn the card off and on.

Any help will be greatly appreciated.
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Re: How to Turn a Graphic Card off and off?

Postposted on Fri Oct 21, 2011 4:23 pm

No matter how advanced the GPU switching between the discreet graphics card (your Geforce card) and the integrated graphics card, it will still draw a fairly substantial amount of power, though way less compared to systems that don't support this. If you aren't going to play any games that require high level rendering, I'd suggest other cards that don't require any PCI-E power connectors which use a lot less power but provide a lot more performance compared to the integrated graphics chip.

Also PSU efficiency makes a big difference in the level of power it uses. I'd suggest Antec earthwatts brand for lower power computers (less than 450watts), and PC Power&cooling brand PSU's for 450 watt plus systems. From what it sounds like, I think you can get away with a high quality 350watt PSU.
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Re: How to Turn a Graphic Card off and off?

Postposted on Fri Oct 21, 2011 4:31 pm

There's no real way to do it manually unfortunately, that being said, it won't pull a whole lot of power when idle, probably less than a single CFL.
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Re: How to Turn a Graphic Card off and off?

Postposted on Fri Oct 21, 2011 4:35 pm

There's Nvidia's Optimus switching technology, but last time I looked, that was available only in some select laptops. So yeah, there's really no way to do what you want. I'll echo what others have said though: these days, all hardware is much more power-efficient, so even when sitting at idle, you're not looking at that big of a hit. Take a look here for some system-wide power consumption numbers with that graphics card.
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Re: How to Turn a Graphic Card off and off?

Postposted on Fri Oct 21, 2011 4:42 pm

khands wrote:There's no real way to do it manually unfortunately, that being said, it won't pull a whole lot of power when idle, probably less than a single CFL.


Yeah at idle the 560Ti will use about 20-30 watts which is a lot or very little power depending on your perspective. At maximum possible power consumption, the videocard itself will use about 200-240 watts of power. On average, you are probably looking about 120-190 watts of power usage by the video card for the current games on the market. Of course you need to consider everything else in the computer that's running to calculate the power the computer is using as a whole.
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Re: How to Turn a Graphic Card off and off?

Postposted on Fri Oct 21, 2011 6:15 pm

Switching power to the video card off and on while the system is running will likely cause the system to crash (best case) or damage the video card and/or motherboard (worst case). I suppose if you know how to use a soldering iron and don't mind hacking up some PCIe power cables you might be able to rig a switch thru one of your expansion slot covers on the back panel, with the caveat that the switch can *only* be toggled when the system is powered off, under penalty of death (to your system). This is *not* a good solution, and I am *not* recommending that you actually do this!

Your best bet is to just rely on the card's built-in power management features. Yes, it'll still draw a fair bit of power when you're not gaming; but it'll still be substantially less than it draws under load.
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Re: How to Turn a Graphic Card off and off?

Postposted on Fri Oct 21, 2011 7:44 pm

A good idea is to try undervolting/underclocking the card in 2D mode. It's fiddly and annoying, but maybe you can gain some watts this way.

Me? I wouldn't bother, with contemporary power consumption being so low already.
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Re: How to Turn a Graphic Card off and off?

Postposted on Mon Oct 24, 2011 5:37 pm

Hello,
I certainly must thank you folks for all the fine help you gave me!

As a novice, it is great I can get such good and fast help from folks such as you all. it is much needed and appreciated. I never built a PC and hesitated because of a lack of knowledge. Since I am getting such fine help, I will try to build one.

When I get all my parts selected, I will post then for your perusal, critique and recommendations.

I was shocked and thankful "Just Brew it" told what could happen if I used an off and on switch when the PC was on!

I take my hat off to "Just Brew it" and give him a special "THANK YOU SIR!"

It would take a while to give kudos and list why, for all of you. All I can say is that your help is greatly appreciated, many thanks!

There is no doubt that the consensus of the group says: Do not use a switch on your graphics card.
I will not even think about it again!
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