NVIDIA Confirms Clock Speed, Power Increases at High Refresh Rates, Promises Fix

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 6, 2015 - 04:05 PM |
Tagged: ROG Swift, refresh rate, pg279q, nvidia, GTX 980 Ti, geforce, asus, 165hz, 144hz

Last month I wrote a story that detailed some odd behavior with NVIDIA's GeForce GTX graphics cards and high refresh rate monitors, in particular with the new ASUS ROG Swift PG279Q that has a rated 165Hz refresh rate. We found that when running this monitor at 144Hz or higher refresh rate, idle clock speeds and power consumption of the graphics card increased dramatically.

The results are much more interesting than I expected! At 60Hz refresh rate, the monitor was drawing just 22.1 watts while the entire testing system was idling at 73.7 watts. (Note: the display was set to its post-calibration brightness of just 31.) Moving up to 100Hz and 120Hz saw very minor increases in power consumption from both the system and monitor.

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But the jump to 144Hz is much more dramatic – idle system power jumps from 76 watts to almost 134 watts – an increase of 57 watts! Monitor power only increased by 1 watt at that transition though. At 165Hz we see another small increase, bringing the system power up to 137.8 watts.

When running the monitor at 60Hz, 100Hz and even 120Hz, the GPU clock speed sits comfortably at 135MHz. When we increase from 120Hz to 144Hz though, the GPU clock spikes to 885MHz and stays there, even at the Windows desktop. According to GPU-Z the GPU is running at approximately 30% of the maximum TDP.

We put NVIDIA on notice with the story and followed up with emails including more information from other users as well as additional testing completed after the story was posted. The result: NVIDIA has confirmed it exists and has a fix incoming!

In an email we got from NVIDIA PR last night: 

We checked into the observation you highlighted with the newest 165Hz G-SYNC monitors.
Guess what? You were right! That new monitor (or you) exposed a bug in the way our GPU was managing clocks for GSYNC and very high refresh rates.
As a result of your findings, we are fixing the bug which will lower the operating point of our GPUs back to the same power level for other displays.
We’ll have this fixed in an upcoming driver.

This actually supports an oddity we found before: we noticed that the PG279Q at 144Hz refresh was pushing GPU clocks up pretty high while a monitor without G-Sync support at 144Hz did not. We'll see if this addresses the entire gamut of experiences that users have had (and have emailed me about) with high refresh rate displays and power consumption, but at the very least NVIDIA is aware of the problems and working to fix them.

I don't have confirmation of WHEN I'll be able to test out that updated driver, but hopefully it will be soon, so we can confirm the fix works with the displays we have in-house. NVIDIA also hasn't confirmed what the root cause of the problem is - was it related to the clock domains as we had theorized? Maybe not, since this was a G-Sync specific display issue (based on the quote above). I'll try to weasel out the technical reasoning for the bug if we can and update the story later!

November 6, 2015 | 04:33 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Will the fix be available to everyone or just those who use GFE?

Do others have to wait 3 months for it to be available without GFE?

November 6, 2015 | 05:39 PM - Posted by dustinr26

Hopefully it is for 144hz monitors also and not just the 165hz monitor.

November 6, 2015 | 06:02 PM - Posted by Shambles (not verified)

I completely trust when a corporation promises me a fix at some unspecific time in the future. /s

November 6, 2015 | 06:37 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Better than denying it though eh?

November 7, 2015 | 04:06 AM - Posted by JohnGR

It depends. A promise can turn to a lie. Denying a fix could be a honest reply if it can not be fixed.

November 6, 2015 | 06:06 PM - Posted by Qrash

The tone of Nvidia's response seems genuinely cooperative. They do not appear to be upset that this problem was found and are reacting publicly how I'd hope all companys would, with a "can do" attitude.

Also, I'm glad this issue can be resolved in a driver update. It just didn't make sense that this behaviour was intentional or necessary for Nvidia GPUs.

November 6, 2015 | 06:33 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

They've had similar issues when connecting more then one monitor in the past. Where the clocks stay higher then they should.

Just like the laptop overclocking and various others as per GeForce Forums back and forth it gets re-introduced into the driver every so often.

Issues made public
fix coming soon
3 month pass
Issue re-introduced

Repeat the cycle.

November 7, 2015 | 01:05 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

We've brought up several NV driver issues in the past (most unpublished), and their record with us is that if they say a fix is incoming, we typically see it in the very next driver release. No reason to suspect otherwise here, especially with the enthusiasm of their reply. 

November 7, 2015 | 09:07 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I wonder if they'll get around to fixing the awful sluggishness inherent in their control panel interface.

November 7, 2015 | 08:50 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

The reintroduction of a bug can happen very easily in source code control systems. They often branch of of a main line to work on new features. Sometimes a bug is fixed on the main line or on a branch which has been merged into the mainline. When the development branch is merged back in to the main line, the bug is accidentally reintroduced. This can easily happen when the code with the bug in it has been modified on the development branch. It is common practice to create a test case for each fixed bug to make sure it is not reintroduced in some manner. Some things are more difficult to test than others though.

November 7, 2015 | 08:52 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Also, in such cases, it is generally really easy to fix since it has been fixed before.

November 6, 2015 | 06:47 PM - Posted by mLocke

Thanks Ryan,

PCPer is the best when it comes to looking out for the consumer. Now I just need Micro Center to finally get stock of the PG279Q.

November 6, 2015 | 08:32 PM - Posted by gloomfrost

this is why PCPer is still my main source for reviews, because you lot keep them honest. Thanks guys.

November 6, 2015 | 09:01 PM - Posted by Bezzell

How does this even get past Nvidia?

Anywho, nice job PCper.

November 6, 2015 | 09:29 PM - Posted by Mandrake

Thanks for bringing this to Nvidia's attention. Eagerly awaiting the fix for my 980 Ti.

November 6, 2015 | 10:25 PM - Posted by JohnL (not verified)

-.-.....so....nvidia finally decided to fix this power drain issue on 144hz? Geez.....it has been complaint of many 144hz monitor users since Kepler card was launched..

November 7, 2015 | 12:43 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

They are only fixing it because there was a publication about it.

If there wasn't one they still be denying it on their forums, business as usual.

November 8, 2015 | 04:08 PM - Posted by MrAhlefeld (not verified)

You mean since Fermi architecture... Iv'e got 2pcs og GTX580's and a screen running 100hz this makes the primary card jump to 3D clocks eg. Somewhat kinda half the full 3D clock speed "in my case 405mhz" instead og the 50mhz that is the 2D clock speed.
This has been driving me insane fue to power usage and thus turning my PC into a spaceheater even though om not gaming on it...
Og I go to 110mhz on the monitor it gies into full 3D mode 950mhz
So please NVIDIA don't just look at current Maxwell cards but the whole line up since Fermi!!!!

November 7, 2015 | 12:49 AM - Posted by Dr_Orgo

Good work PCper!

November 7, 2015 | 03:55 AM - Posted by Mountainlifter

This is why we love PCPER.

November 7, 2015 | 05:33 AM - Posted by quebec>evrythingelse:P (not verified)

no no. we LOVE pcper because of CANADA...

good ol'american CANADA

gj guys XD!

November 7, 2015 | 04:15 AM - Posted by JohnGR

It seems that it had to come from PCPerspective to make Nvidia respond. This shows that PCPerspective is something more than just one more site.

Why I am saying it? Because it seems that Nvidia cards have this problem for much time now. Just a quick Googling

5 months ago


Mar 03 2013

November 7, 2015 | 11:53 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

ikr - it must be conspiratory that nvidia responds to a review site's email instead of reading/responding to reddit and forums posts . .

January 30, 2016 | 06:16 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Yeah, it's almost like they have a better track record of knowing what they're talking about then a bunch of randos on various forums.

I mean, who really needs credibility anyways?


January 30, 2016 | 06:16 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Yeah, it's almost like they have a better track record of knowing what they're talking about then a bunch of randos on various forums.

I mean, who really needs credibility anyways?


November 7, 2015 | 06:22 AM - Posted by Bugsy004 (not verified)

”Guess what? You were right!” ... no comment
Seems like this problem is much older, BUT nVidia did... nothing till now...
Are nvidia going to fix this issue or not?

Best regards PCPerspective!

November 7, 2015 | 11:55 AM - Posted by johnc (not verified)

I'm surprised to hear that this problem is "fixable". It seems like you would need a certain clock speed to push as many frames as one would need for 144 Hz and above.

November 7, 2015 | 12:19 PM - Posted by JohnGR

Not with AMD hi end GPUs based on PCPer's tests.

November 7, 2015 | 06:11 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

The pixel clock thing was just a working theory really. It was busted as soon as we were able to push a different 25x14 panel at 144 without seeing the same power increase. This means the issue is more likely (or in this case, can be) fixable with driver level power management tweaks.

November 7, 2015 | 12:37 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Just wanted to say thanks for this work. I always thought the higher power draw, etc. at 144hz was normal, glad to hear it will (hopefully) get fixed.

November 7, 2015 | 01:19 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Yeah nVidia has F'ed up so many times this year. Hopefully next gen AMD is worth switching to.

November 7, 2015 | 02:20 PM - Posted by Cyclops

Thanks, Obama.

On a serious note, I'm glad Nvidia listened to you.

Do you think they'll be bringing the "fix" to previous generation cards like Kepler and such? Or will it just be for Maxwell?

November 7, 2015 | 06:13 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

I'm personally still running SLI 680s, and will test any update / report on that config as well. Given that multiple platforms show a similar type of issue, I suspect the fix should work for all that are impacted.

November 7, 2015 | 09:07 PM - Posted by Cyclops

It's such a first world problem, but quite annoying to power users.

BTW, did you know your GTX 680s are limited to 1.15v? I can unlock them to 1.21V and get rid of TDP or temperature throttling. Wink wink.

November 7, 2015 | 04:47 PM - Posted by Quentin (not verified)

You get the same problem when you plug in more than two monitors.

November 7, 2015 | 05:39 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

nice work guys!

November 8, 2015 | 10:11 AM - Posted by Delukz (not verified)

This issue has been going on for years now, and now that press is finally paying attention to this nvidia decides to do something about it?

November 8, 2015 | 12:45 PM - Posted by godrilla (not verified)

I've seen multiple sites bring up this issue but this is the only one that went to the source for a resolution, much respect.

November 8, 2015 | 03:28 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Multiple sites brought up this issue only after PCPer wrote their story about it, which only happened because a commenter brought it up in a thread on PCPer and it drew the staff's attention enough to investigate.

So, for the PCPer folks and (some of) the commenters, even more much respect. :)

November 8, 2015 | 02:52 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Umm tested your theory on my ASUS 24" NON G-Sync 144mhz monitor and the bug is also effecting it. The bug is present at any refresh rate above 60mhz. So 80mhz, 100mhz, 120mhz and 144mhz. GPUZ is setting at 961mhz.

Set up:

X3 24" ASUS VG248QE monitors
X1 MSI 980 Gaming GPU
X1 I7 3770K 4.5 H2o
X4 8GB Corsair Dominator
Wondows 7 pro

GPU driver 358.87 11/4/2015

November 8, 2015 | 02:52 PM - Posted by sometymes

Nice work, this issue has been bugging me for quite a while.

Any chance yall can do one about the problem where Windows 10 + dual monitors + gsync on one of them often results in horrible, unusable stuttering? :)

November 8, 2015 | 06:24 PM - Posted by J Nev (not verified)

5+ months and still no 390X review

November 9, 2015 | 04:24 AM - Posted by anonymous (not verified)

see comment thread for 380x announcement

November 9, 2015 | 06:08 PM - Posted by dbcher (not verified)

I submitted this issue shortly after getting my Acer 144hz G-sync IPS monitor ~4 months ago and was told by NVIDIA (after waiting a month for a reply) that they "do not notice any aberrant behavior" on their end and to just "check my personal settings".

Well, at least they are finally admitting it and (hopefully) working on a fix

November 10, 2015 | 02:44 PM - Posted by El_Capitan (not verified)

Maybe they should test it with a GTX 980 or GTX 780, and not the GTX 970? Who but NVIDIA knows if for some reason G-Sync is accessing the card's 0.5GB memory segment on the GTX 970, and maybe that's the problem?

November 17, 2015 | 05:57 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

About time...This has been an issue since I remember

November 19, 2015 | 11:26 PM - Posted by wolsty7

any update on this? changing between 120Hz and 144Hz when i want to play games is getting annoying

December 2, 2015 | 10:15 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Driver 359.06

Issue still there.

..waiting for promised fix.

December 14, 2015 | 07:07 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Also waiting for a fix.

December 16, 2015 | 03:15 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Come on Nvidia, you can fix it!

December 22, 2015 | 04:54 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

omg, they finally fixed this with driver 361.43! My 980 Ti is finally resting at 135 core / 810 mem @ 144hz

December 25, 2015 | 06:32 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)


December 25, 2015 | 07:06 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

That driver 361.43 won't help if you have dual mon.

January 12, 2016 | 03:19 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Confirmed!! So annoying.

February 1, 2016 | 11:45 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Someone said that with 361.43 they fixed the problem, i updated my driver to 361.75 and i still have the same problem :(

February 14, 2016 | 01:59 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

im have it too still

May 24, 2016 | 04:06 AM - Posted by Magick (not verified)

Bug still present.

Here's the deal. Their "fix" was the switch your main display to 120Hz (from 144Hz) when you turn on the second monitor, allowing the GPU to clock down to 135MHz. Some fix, eh? WTF? They ignore all new comments about it too, which leads me to believe there is no way to sort this out. *sigh*

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