We measured total system power consumption at the wall socket using an Extech power analyzer model 380803. The monitor was plugged into a separate outlet, so its power draw was not part of our measurement. The cards were plugged into a motherboard on an open test bench.
The idle measurements were taken at the Windows Vista desktop with the Aero theme enabled. The cards were tested under load running UT3 at 2560x1600 resolution, using the same settings we did for performance testing.
Note that the SLI configs were, by necessity, tested on a different motherboard than the single cards, as noted in our testing methods section.
Whoa. The 9600 GT draws even less power under load than the Radeon HD 3850. That makes it one heck of an energy efficient GPU, given its performance.
We measured noise levels on our test systems, sitting on an open test bench, using an Extech model 407727 digital sound level meter. The meter was mounted on a tripod approximately 12" from the test system at a height even with the top of the video card. We used the OSHA-standard weighting and speed for these measurements.
You can think of these noise level measurements much like our system power consumption tests, because the entire systems' noise levels were measured, including the stock Intel cooler we used to cool the CPU. Of course, noise levels will vary greatly in the real world along with the acoustic properties of the PC enclosure used, whether the enclosure provides adequate cooling to avoid a card's highest fan speeds, placement of the enclosure in the room, and a whole range of other variables. These results should give a reasonably good picture of comparative fan noise, though.
Unfortunatelyor, rather, quite fortunatelyI wasn't able to reliably measure noise levels for most of these systems at idle. Our test systems keep getting quieter with the addition of new power supply units and new motherboards with passive cooling and the like, as do the video cards themselves. I decided this time around that our test rigs at idle are too close to the sensitivity floor for our sound level meter, so I only measured noise levels under load.
Like I said, Palit's cooler is nice and quiet. Of course, it doesn't hurt to have a GPU that draws so little power (and thus generates little heat) onboard.
Per your requests, I've added GPU temperature readings to our results. I captured these using AMD's Catalyst Control Center and Nvidia's nTune Monitor, so we're basically relying on the cards to report their temperatures properly. In the case of multi-GPU configs, well, I only got one number out of CCC. I used the highest of the numbers from the Nvidia monitoring app. These temperatures were recorded while running UT3 in a window.
Yeah, those numbers seemed wrong to me at first, too. I tried again a few times, and the GPU temps never really got any higher. Palit's copper heatsink with heatpipes may be overkill for this GPU. Then again, it's the kind of overkill I like.