How much power does a graphics card consume?

Knowing how many watts of electricity a video card consumes is not a difficult task for any of us to learn and calculate. We currently have applications that can fairly accurately measure how much power is consumed not only by our dedicated graphics card, but also by integrated graphics cards, CPU, and even SSD.

With sensors placed in almost every corner of our components, we can easily get an idea of ​​the electricity consumption of desktop PCs or laptops. If we go a little further, we will find simple and inexpensive tools such as wattmeters that will measure the exact consumption of our equipment, multimeters, or special tools such as Nvidia’s PCAT, which are specially designed to measure the consumption of full GPUs and thereby discover their TGP.

What does TGP, TBP, TDP mean?

The first thing to clarify would be the concepts involving the consumption of a hardware component such as a graphics card. There is a lot of confusion between what TDP and TGP are, as these are two measurements that are often repeated by manufacturers and reviewers.

TDP, or Thermal Design Power, defines the power, in watts, that a component can draw for real-world application. To put it more succinctly, the maximum amount of heat a component will generate at maximum performance and the cooling solution must be able to evacuate. We’re not talking about consumption or power at any given time, we’re just talking about the heat it generates, it could be not just a GPU but also a CPU or other chip.

To talk about actual consumption, we need to refer to TGP or Total Graphics Power. This determines the power that must be supplied to a graphics card to operate with maximum stress application. TBP or Total Board Power will be pretty much the same and the difference is that Nvidia uses TGP and AMD uses TBP. This is what we want to measure in this article.

How many watts does a video card consume?

When we say real or real, it means the watt that we can physically measure with a device external to the graphics card, not processed by a system that is not processed by software and more or less distorts the measurement.

At the moment we can do this in three different ways, always with external tools and which in some ways require a small, albeit limited, expenditure of money.


Wattmeter will be a device that can measure the power consumed by any device connected to it. Therefore, in order to be able to measure the consumed watts in real time, we must place it between the plug and the device.

Depending on the quality and price, they will have more or less integrated functions, for example density measurement, voltage and even estimated consumption.

The limitation of these is that they will only measure the total consumption, not each component individually, so it’s useful to calculate the total consumption by adding different devices or power from a plug.


A multimeter is another device that can measure different quantities of electricity, among them density, voltage, resistance and sometimes power. We will have some freedom as it has two probes that we can place wherever we want. Of course, we need to be clear about some electrical concepts, at least to know how to calculate magnitudes from others.

However, this also has a downside, which is that we cannot measure several things at once, such as the power supplied by the card’s PCIe interface and power connections. To do this we need to do it one by one and know exactly where to put the probes. Another problem that arises is that if we cannot measure power directly, we will have to calculate it manually with the formula P = I x V (Power = Density x Voltage).

The multimeter will be a very useful tool for checking possible component failures, continuity in power lines and circuits.

Nvidia PCAT Tool

Finally, we have a tool specifically designed to find out how many watts a graphics card consumes. It consists of two elements: a PCIe x16 adapter that will measure the consumption of the graphics card directly through its interface. And a small board that records the power passing from the power supply to the card headers.

In this way it is possible to accurately measure the total consumption of the card. Information is visible on a small OLED display directly connected to the PCB, or from the operating system as it can be connected via USB and controlled by software. This tool will work for both Nvidia and AMD proprietary cards, but is not suitable for integrated or laptop GPUs.

However, there is a problem with this tool that it is not for sale at the moment, it is only possible for technicians and analysis environments to be obtained with the approval of the brand.

Measure the wattage consumed by a video card using software

We don’t have time for these, because now is the time for good news. And we can also measure the consumption of a video card through monitoring programs available for Windows. They will also be free, they are quite sensitive and can measure many more aspects.

The two applications we will test will be HWiNFO, which focuses on GPU-Z-specific graphics cards, on the one hand, and provides information about all the hardware of our team, on the other.

Measuring consumption with GPU-Z

To give us an idea of ​​how complete this simple tool can be, we will measure as much consumption data as we can from a laptop with an integrated and dedicated GPU. While we believe this example will be more complete, it is something that can be extended to desktop computers.

We open GPU-Z and on the bottom edge we select the Nvidia graphics card, which we will clearly identify by name and specifications. We will go to the Sensors section, where we will find a large amount of card telemetry data. Board Power Draw will be the line that tells us the total consumption of the video card. If we also display the date in each row, we can choose what information to display, such as real-time, average, minimum or maximum data.

Measuring consumption with HWiNFO

CPU, SSD, motherboard sensors etc. We’ll be able to do pretty much the same thing with the HWiNFO software, although it gives us much more telemetry data than other elements of the computer, such as HWiNFO.

We will start the software in Sensors Only mode and display a dense table divided into sections for each item. We will focus on the two GPU sections that show data from the two chips found in the laptop.