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The strain of a second monitor

I noticed something weird today while I was playing an old game (Return to Castle Wolfenstein) at a lower resolution than my native one (it doesn't support that high). I glanced over at my second monitor to check the time and noticed that my GPU temperature was 55 degrees Celsius, a good 16 degrees cooler than the standard idle temperature when I'm just at my desktop-I thought that my GTX 480 normally had a high idle temperature. That got me wondering as to how much stress multiple monitors puts on a video card even when nothing special is being rendered- I find it odd that rendering a game at 1280 x 1024 and showing the desktop at 1280 x 1024 at the same time gets significantly lower temperatures than the desktop at 1920 x 1080 and 1280 x 1024. Has anyone else experienced this/know why the desktop makes the GPU temperature go so high?

Edit: I disabled my second monitor, and my temperature jumped down to about 45 degrees, a good 25 or so degrees lower than with two monitors. I feel like that's a huge jump for a single 1280 x 1024 monitor when I'm already running one at 1920 x 1080.
I have never had any issues with this. My ATI card runs about 45 degrees when connected to two 1080p monitors. When running only one, the temperature is only about 2-3 degrees less. What version of Windows are you using?
I'm using Windows 7 Professional 64 bit.
Do bear in mind that not all graphics cards come off the factory line fault free. There are some cards that are dead in box, or will succumb to problems due to a faulty assembly from normal use. They can't catch all of them. Wink
I'm not suggesting that your card is faulty. I'm simply suggesting keeping an eye on it. As long as it doesn't hit 60 degrees or higher it should be fine.
Just keep an eye on it, and have your receipt handy for a minimum of 6 to 12 months from the date of purchase, if there would ever be a need for warranty. Smile
Eh, I can't exactly return it. I got it for free when nVidia gave out a GTX 480 to all the robotics teams at both regional competitions my team went to.
That's why when I bought my GTX 470 I spent $40 extra on a card with double lifetime warranty. Cool
This is a normal problem with the GF100 based cards (eg. GTX 470 and GTX 480). Normally when the graphics demand is low, the card underclocks itself to save energy/generate less heat. However, these nVidia cards run at full speed, non-stop, when a second monitor is plugged in. The reason for this is to prevent screen flickering when changing between power states.

I remember seeing a group trying to remedy this problem on some overclocking website. I don't recall if they were successful or not.
Ah, so it is normal. Too bad there isn't an option in the nVidia control panel to turn it off =/
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