Due to the city-centre positioning of our test location, constantly high ambient noise makes it very difficult to accurately measure the difference in the noise level of each graphics card. As such, we have instead decided to record a short video to show how the fan speed of AMD's R9 Nano operates when it is housed inside a SFF chassis.
The camera is positioned approximately where a (tall) user's head would be when sat at a desk. Watch on Vimeo below or on Youtube HERE.
The R9 Nano is barely audible when operating at its idle fan speed level (19-22%) in our testing. Once the card's fan moves towards 40%, the noise output is clearly more noticeable, although it's not intrusive. I would be hard pushed to notice the load fan speed when sat 2m+ away from a large screen TV and the SFF gaming system.
Subjectively, I found the loaded R9 Nano slightly quieter than the loaded GTX 980 Ti reference inside the SFF test system. However this is only a subjective point (not scientifically tested) and the real-world difference is very small.
What was noticeable was the coil whine that our R9 Nano sample exhibited. As soon as a GPU load was applied, the inductors would put out a high-pitched squeal that was undeniably frustrating to hear. Did this act as an annoyance during the gaming experience? Without headphones on, in my opinion, yes it did. But that is just my opinion and you may have different tolerance levels.
We must point out that we only have one sample to test – other reviewers' R9 Nano cards may not suffer any coil whine. It's worth noting that retail samples or revisions may alleviate the coil whine that we heard. My colleague Allan heard coil whine on his early R9 Fury X card, however the newer Sapphire R9 Fury X that I tested with did not output any noticeable whine.