Nvidia, refresh rate and power usage inquiry

Hi All,

I have a bit of brain freeze moment and look for assistance understanding Nvidia monitor refresh rate, GPU/memory clocks and power usage correlation.

I have 3 screens connected to 3070Ti - 4K, 1440p and 1080p

  • 4K screen that supports up to 144Hz
  • 1440p screen that supports up to 165Hz
  • 1080p screen that supports up to 114Hz

so far, so good.

Nvidia PowerMizer Prefered Mode is set to Auto, Current mode is Adaptive.

The moment I set the screens to their max refresh rate, Nvidia power usage in idle goes to 70W and PoweMizer level goes to maximum. The GPU clock stays low, white the memory clock goes to the max (level 4).

If I just set all monitors to 60Hz, PowerMizer level changes based on the usage and power usage goes down to 25W in idle. Both GPU and memory clocks stays low (level 1/2).

Turning off monitors additionally reduces the power usage in idle to 15-17W, depending which monitor is on. Both GPU and memory clocks stays low (level 0).


Hi @CyberOto,

It does make sense.

Increasing the settings gives it more to do. The more it has to do, the harder it works. The harder it works, the more energy it uses. (Just like a human.)

So it makes sense.

Hey @Mirdarthos,

Yeah, I get the power consumption part of the equation.

I should have been more clear that I look to understand the GPU and memory clock parts. Why the PowerMizer “locks” to level 4 cannot lower it, when the screens are set to use max refresh rate and the PC is idling?

Because, the PC might be idling, but the setting forces the CPU to redraw 3 monitor’ image 144, 165 and 114 respectively, times per second. So while you might not be doing much, setting that forces the GPU to redraw that rate. Which is hard work and requires a lot of energy. If you’d been playing a game, it would’ve been even harder work.

Now that I had enough time to poke around and deploy Windows on a separate drive to do additional testing, I have found out that this issue is with the Nvidia Linux driver implementation.

Additionally, I have finally found this thread on Dev Nvidia forum:

I have created a small bash script that I can use to switch between desired refresh rates and minimize GPU power usage, based on my needs.

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I had observed this issue as well, have seen your Idle temps spike as well?

hey @havanajoe,

In my case, I have not observed such behavior - my GPU temps in idle are between 43 - 45 C, no spikes. I have the same temps in Windows 10 while GPU is idle.

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