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High-end graphics card consumption, how many watts does it take?

Sometimes we have talked to you about the recommendations regarding the power of the power supply of the different manufacturers, but since one thing is theory and another is practice, in this article we are going to show you real data measured by ourselves first-hand, so that the data has been collected with a real PC in a real environment, here there is no room for theory but we are going to work with empirical data and, therefore, unquestionable.

The sandbox: a real gaming PC

To carry out the tests we have used a gaming PC that is not even the latest generation (but it is quite powerful), since we want to focus on the consumption of the GPU and not the rest of the system, although as you will obviously assume the consumption of the processor it is also added to calculate the watts required by the power supply.

The PC used includes a processor Intel Core i7-8700K cooled by a Corsair H100i Platinum AIO kit, 32GB of RAM on 4x 8GB Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB 3600MHz modules, an MSI Z370 Gaming M5 motherboard, and a 1TB PCIe NVMe Transcend 220S SSD. For testing, we have had the following GPUs:

  • ASUS TUF Gaming GeForce RTX 3070 8GB.
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 FE.
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 FE.

Likewise, these are the power supplies with which we have tested the graphics cards:

  • be quiet! Dark Power Pro 12 1200W
  • Corsair RM1000i
  • be quiet! Dark Power 12 850W
  • be quiet! Pure Power 11 600W
  • Corsair CV550

Testing methodology

Without expensive professional equipment it is almost impossible to be able to say for sure how many watts the graph is consuming at any given moment. We could put a clamp meter on the PCIe cables, but then we would not be taking into account the consumption of the PCIe socket, so really the best thing is to directly test each source with each graph and see if the system holds or not, since this In this way we will be discovering for sure what the minimum is, and the result will be more reliable than simply using the most powerful source that we have at hand and measuring values.

So, what we have done has been to test each of the graphs with each of the power supplies, with very demanding reference levels such as OCCT and graphically demanding games, such as Cyberpunk 2077.

cascaded shadows resolution cyberpunk

It is very important to remember that what we are going to tell you below are not mere recommendations, but are really minimum requirements to avoid problems. If you use a system with a lower power supply you have a high risk of overloading with consequent shutdown and potential damage to your precious hardware components. Therefore, if you are thinking of buying a next-generation GPU, the main recommendation is that you do not skimp on power or quality.

How many watts does each graphics card need? Results and conclusion

According to the data we have told you about for our “experiment”, this is the result we have obtained with the different graphic cards tested both in gaming and with the torture test in all the power supplies that we have. In the following table you will find if each source with its watts has been enough for each graph in the gaming and torture test.

be quiet! Dark Power Pro 12 1200W Corsair RM1000i be quiet! Dark Power 12 850W be quiet! Pure Power 11 600W Corsair CV550
ASUS RTX 3070 Gaming okay okay okay okay okay
Gaming RTX 3080 FE okay okay okay okay Fail
Gaming RTX 3090 FE okay okay okay Fail Fail
Torture RTX 3070 okay okay okay okay Fail
Torture RTX 3080 okay okay okay Fail Fail
Torture RTX 3090 okay okay okay Fail Fail

The conclusion is very clear: with the 850 watt power supply We have enough to service all the high-end NVIDIA graphics cards on the market today, but if we lower this power to 600 watts things change a lot. It would have been interesting to have had a 700 or 750 watt model to see if the same thing happened.

Be quiet power supply

Source 600 watts has marked the turning point where it has been able to handle perfectly (although at the limit) an RTX 3070 both in gaming and in the torture test, but already if we go up to a RTX 3080, the system shut down because the overload protection system (OPP). With the 550-watt model we haven’t even gotten there, although it was surprising to see that it was able to keep the RTX 3070 active in gaming but not in the torture test.

The fact is that it has only been from the 850 watt model that we have been able to run all the tests with all the graphics without problems, even with the demanding RTX 3090 FE whose consumption by itself is about 380 peak watts.

Our recommendations

NVIDIA itself recommends a minimum power supply of 550 watts for an RTX 3070, 650 watts for the RTX 3080, and 750 watts for the RTX 3090, but these recommendations are under ideal conditions and are highly dependent on the processor and the rest of the hardware, in addition to the age and quality of the power supply itself and whether or not the processor is overclocked, something that can trigger the work of the VRMs and therefore consumption.

NVIDIA-RTX-3070-8-GB

One thing must be taken into account beyond consumption, and that is the amperage they require the new top-of-the-range graphics from both NVIDIA and AMD has been increased, further raising the requirements regarding the quality of the power supply.

In view of the results obtained in our tests and therefore based on the data that we have collected, our recommendation is that to handle with ease a RTX 3070 you will need a good quality power supply with at least 650 watts (In our test the 600 watt power supply has held up perfectly, but better to go with a little to spare since as we have mentioned before the rest of the hardware also influences) and not the 550 that NVIDIA recommends.

Refering to RTX 3080, the 600 watt power supply has also withstood the gaming test but not the torture test, so we would recommend at least one power supply 750 watts. Already for the RTX 3090 The recommendation in view of the performance and current requirements is as follows. 850 watts and not the 750 watts that NVIDIA recommends for this graphics card.

High-end graphics, high-end font

Our final recommendation beyond the amount of watts you need for each graphics is that if you have the money and resources to buy a high-end graphics card, you should too. reserve a part of your budget for a high-end source, because we firmly believe that those who skimp on the source when buying a GPU of this size, will end up regretting it.

be quiet Dark Power 12

Regarding the new generation high-end graphics cards, we believe that now more than ever it is important to pay special attention to the power supply, and from our tests we can tell you that with an 850 watt power supply you will not be wrong whatever it is. the graph you are going to choose. In fact, we recently analyzed the 850W be quiet Dark Power 12, and we consider that for quality, power, cabling, efficiency, protections and technology it is one of the best candidates you can buy today for a high-end GPU.