Saturday, March 15, 2014

[Rant] NVidia driver issue made the electricity bill skyrocket!

precisionx

Last month’s electricity bill was a record high for us. For the first time it went past JPY10,000. Our usually electricity bill is around JPY6,000 and even that’s because the heater is running throughout the day. Usually it is below JPY4,000. We couldn’t figure out what caused this huge increase. Even though the charge was about 70% higher than the previous month, we hadn’t consumed that much units. What caused the increase was because we went into the crossed over to the next unit pricing. Just as in Sri Lanka, in Japan too, the unit price goes up as the consumption increases, in a step by step manner.

Today I think I found the culprit. I’m not entirely sure if it is the actual cause. We’ll find out next month. But it seems that the GPU had been running at full blast all the time. Instead of using like 10-20W of power while at idle, it had been using over 100W. No idea about the actual power consumption, but I believe it is over 100W. When I checked in PrecisionX, the power usage was above 60% so it is definitely above 100W. The GPU clock was at 1066MHz instead of 324MHz.

To be honest, today wasn’t the first time I’ve seen this. I had seen it before and simply ignored it. I thought it was a bug in PrecisionX’s monitoring tool. (I use PrecisionX for overclocking the GPU and overclocking the pixel clock of the display.) But today I noticed the idle temps of the GPU as well. I don’t know how I missed it the last time, but somehow I did. The temps were hovering at just under 50C!!! That’s way high for an idle GPU. Still I didn’t want to rule out an issue with PrecisionX. So I checked the sensor report from GPU-Z. It too reported the same thing. The GPU is doing something fishy!

What else can I do other than reinstall the drivers, right? I went online to find Driver Sweeper to do a clean install of the drivers. Only then I found out that Driver Sweeper had been replaced by a tool called Display Driver Uninstaller. You can download the latest version from here. I extracted what was downloaded and ran it. It is a standalone EXE. No installer.

It seemed to do a pretty extensive job than Driver Sweeper. It recommended that I reboot to Safe Mode. But I didn’t have to do it manually. It could automatically go into Safe Mode and uninstall all the stuff related to the graphics driver, and reboot automatically back to regular desktop. Good!

When I came back to the regular desktop, I downloaded the latest version of the driverlatest version of the driver and installed. Like always, I only installed the driver, GeForce Experience software and PhysX software.

After that, the issue went away. The GPU clock drops to 324MHz now. The GPU power usage is around 10% which is not amazing, but translates to less than 20W I guess. The GPU temps are around 33C. Everything is back to normal.

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But it is too soon to say if this was the sole reason why we got a huge electricity bill this month. But I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough.

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