When it comes to graphics cards, gamers only care about one thing – performance.
High performance gives you a smooth gaming experience, and means your graphics card should last longer.
The other ‘only thing’ gamers care about is price; they usually have a set budget for a graphics card and will go for the option that gives the most bang for their bucks.
The final only thing that gamers care about is noise; after all it’s rather horrible to game when your PC sounds like a Hoover.
Okay; so gamers actually care about three things when it comes to graphics cards – but the one thing that isn’t on the ‘care list’ is power consumption. After all, do you care about killing real life polar bears, or killing noobs in your game of choice?
Now that you feel guilty for killing adorable fluffy creatures, let’s take a look at the new ZeroCore power saving technology found on the AMD HD7900 series of graphics cards
AMD ZeroCore technology tries to save as much power as possible during times when you aren’t demanding peak performance from your graphics card.
ZeroCore manages to lower power usage when your GPU goes into what’s known as long idle mode. Long idle mode is when you leave your PC on, but turn your screen off and walk away.
Many gamers leave their PC on permanently (the polar bears will find you), while some leave it running overnight to download Linux distros while they sleep.
Such users will benefit from ZeroCore, which completely lowers GPU power consumption during long idle mode. This gets the idle power down to under 3W; down from 24W in previous technologies.
For the gamers who leave their monitors on but with a static scene in the background, such as the Windows desktop, AMD have managed to reduce power down to 15W.
The GPUs clock speed is reduced to 27MHz, and the contents of the frame buffer are compressed to save space while the DRAM chips go into “storage mode”.
ZeroCore is also beneficial when running a CrossFireX system. While the user is working in low-power applications such as internet browsing or word processing, only the primary GPU is running at full power. The secondary graphics cards are all changed to long idle mode, reducing power consumption until you need to start more intensive tasks.
While ZeroCore won’t give you a faster graphics card, nor reduce the price, it does have a range of benefits. In addition to all the polar bears you’ll save, you’ll also save on your electricity bill at the end of the month.
The graphics cards will also run far cooler in a low power/idle environment, reducing noise from your cooling solutions, and hopefully extending component lifespan.