It's been a while since we poked into the power consumption department but we hope to do that more often since we just acquired a new power meter. Take note that our previously measured power consumption numbers were based on the AcBel power supply's own meter and thus readings from it cannot be cross compared. Thus we have a fresh set of power readings in this article based on our newly acquired power meter. The system configuration is as mentioned in the test setup page and only consists of the bare necessities like one hard drive, one optical drive, a single graphics card and the platform itself.
Take note that we've enabled all platform power saving options like Enhanced Intel Speedstep Technology (EIST) as well as Cool'n'Quiet (CnQ) Technology on AMD processors to simulate real world setup experience in this segment. On a side note, with or without EIST enabled, we saw only small differences to the net power consumption on Intel processors, but this was the exact opposite observation for AMD processors. Without CnQ, these high-speed AMD processors drew up to 30% more power (depending on the situation). So if you are an Athlon 64 user, make sure you have installed the CnQ driver (from AMD's website) for Windows XP operating system. Windows Vista users don't require any drivers, but for both operating systems, you should load the 'Minimal Power Management' profile in the control panel to enable this power savings technique to kick into effect. With that said, the following are our observations:-
With AMD's CnQ enabled, the power consumption of the Athlon 64 X2 6000+ is just 8% higher than the Core 2 Duo processors. Without CnQ, we measured up to 125 watts power consumption - just at idle. It certainly pays to configure your power savings options as detailed above.
We spent much time trying out various programs from Prime95 to the highly acclaimed SPECCPU industry benchmark, but after a lengthy trial and error affair, we found that Futuremark's 3DMark06 CPU test happens to tax the CPU more than any other benchmarks with the highest temperatures recorded as well as the highest power draw among CPU related tests. In this max CPU loading scenario, the Athlon 64 X2 6000+ requires 55% more power than the Core 2 Duo E6600 and Core 2 Duo E6700 processors which it competes against in performance. So if you dabble in a lot of lengthy processing tasks, it's quite apparent where to channel your resources when planning a new system.
What about power consumption during gaming? Well, we have that covered with 3DMark06 too. This was again our choice after trying several games like F.E.A.R., Quake 4 and others which seemed to tax the system on a similar level as the 3DMark06 game tests. The Deep Freeze test in 3DMark06 seemed to have more impact and thus we stuck with it. Again the Core 2 processors had more than 40% power savings advantage and another clean sweep for the blue team.