Ever since announcing its new next-generation GeForce 6800 Ultra GPU last month, graphics company Nvidia has received a large amount of criticism for its recommendation of a 480W power supply for use with its newest GPU. Since most of todays computer systems only ship with power supplies in the 300-450W range, the need for a 480W power supply upgrade can add a significant add-on cost for gamers interested in buying a GeForce 6800 Ultra video card.
We caught up with Ujesh Desai, General Manager of Desktop GPUs for Nvidia, for a quick Q&A and asked him if he could clarify the GeForce 6800 Ultras 480W power requirement situation for us. It turns out that Nvidias newest GPU isn't as power-hungry as previously thought.
GameSpot: What are the reasons behind the 480W power supply recommendation for the GeForce 6800 Ultra?
Ujesh Desai: We have to spec our products for the absolute worst case, not the best. Marginal power supplies and poorly ventilated cases must be taken into account. We are traditionally overcautious about our minimum specifications, and this is no exception. Now that we have had more time with the GPU, we are getting a better feel for its capabilities, tolerances, and resource requirements.
The reason we initially spec'ed out 480W was because the GeForce 6800 Ultra was targeted at the enthusiast. These folks tend to push their systems to the max. That means overclocking the GPU, using the fastest CPU on the market, and also typically using multiple peripherals. For these folks, a 480W power supply and a second power dongle on the graphics card provide an ideal overclocking solution. For people that do not want to overclock, the 480W power supply and second power connector combination is overkill.
GS: Since a 480W power supply is overkill, what kind of sub-480W power supply can support a GeForce 6800 Ultra running at normal clock speeds?
UD: A good quality 350W power supply with a sufficient 12V rail pull can support the 6800 Ultra standard clocks of 400/550. A lot of reviewers have already shown that they are running on 350W power supplies with no problems. Overclockers will still want the big power supply and will want to connect both molex connectors. We are putting production tests in our manufacturing line to ensure this [new 350W requirement] is the case and will be lowering the spec.
GS: Is Nvidia working on defining more-specific power supply recommendations or even going as far as "qualifying" specific power supplies to replace the blanket 480W recommendation?
UD As long as the power supply design is robust, weve seen that standard 350W power supplies are sufficient for running the GeForce 6800 Ultra. 350W will be the new specification. Our add-in-card partners will also help with the testing, as different card designs can affect power requirements.
GS: Thanks for clearing the situation up for us, Ujesh!