The current obsession with going "green" and "eco-power" is understandable. This has much to do with the surge in crude oil prices during the past year. This incident provided a wake-up call for all, highlighting the need to conserve and to find alternative sources of energy.
While the automobile industry has shown an increasing emphasis on electric-powered cars and alternative fuels such as bioethanol, home builders are looking at ways to build wholly self-sustainable houses with the use of solar and wind energy. Similarly, the PC and hardware industry is responding by finding ways to cut down on electrical consumption and improve efficiency on all levels.
Graphics cards are perhaps one of the most power-hungry devices of a PC and manufacturers are looking at ways to help tune its power consumption by better engineering. Enter the power-efficient versions of NVIDIA's popular GeForce 9800 GT cards. In a nutshell, these power-efficient GeForce 9800 GT cards are 'greener' versions of standard GeForce 9800 GT cards which require less power to run. Key components responsible for this change are the revised GPU silicon optimized for power efficiency as well as revised PCB and power circuitry of the card. Crucially, these optimized GeForce 9800 GT cards can be powered without the need of an additional 6-pin PCIe power connector, which means they can make do with the 75W that the motherboard's PCIe x16 graphics card slot provides, which in turn translates to lower power consumption than the first iterations of the GeForce 9800 GT.
However, as the old saying goes, "no pain no gain", likewise, the GeForce 9800 GT has to undergo some restrictions to be able to work without drawing additional power from a dedicated PCIe power connector. Inevitably, these green GeForce 9800 GT cards lose out on sheer graphics horsepower as their core clock speeds have been reduced from 600MHz to 550MHz, whereas shader clock speeds have been knocked down from 1500MHz to 1375MHz, memory clock speeds, thankfully, remain the same. This represents about a 10% drop in core and shader clock speeds, and we expect to see a significant difference in performance too.
Today, we take two eco versions of the GeForce 9800 GT cards to see how they stack up against a regular GeForce 9800 GT and just how power efficient they are.