We have built a system inside a Lian Li chassis with no case fans and have used a fanless cooler on our CPU. The motherboard is also passively cooled. This gives us a build with almost completely passive cooling and it means we can measure noise of just the graphics card inside the system when we run looped 3dMark tests.
We measure from a distance of around 1 meter from the closed chassis and 4 foot from the ground to mirror a real world situation. Ambient noise in the room measures close to the limits of our sound meter at 28dBa. Why do this? Well this means we can eliminate secondary noise pollution in the test room and concentrate on only the video card. It also brings us slightly closer to industry standards, such as DIN 45635.
This review was delayed by some weird issues we were experiencing which seemed intermittent. Sometimes the target temperature of the Asus RX 480 Strix Gaming OC would switch from 75c to 65c and vice versa. We issued a report to ASUS on this problem and are waiting on feedback. I am also working on reviewing other RX 480 cards right now and we have since heard from Sapphire that the same problem occurs with their hardware. It would logically seem a Catalyst driver issue on some level (perhaps overriding the BIOS fan profile settings?) as Sapphire confirmed their target temperature settings should be 75c, not 65c.
All our results on this page are taken from the Asus RX 480 Strix Gaming OC running with a target temperature of 65c – which is the setting that we got most times on a reboot. This is obviously louder, and cooler than a profile set 10c higher as the fans have to work harder.
KitGuru noise guide
10dBA – Normal Breathing/Rustling Leaves
20-25dBA – Whisper
30dBA – High Quality Computer fan
40dBA – A Bubbling Brook, or a Refrigerator
50dBA – Normal Conversation
60dBA – Laughter
70dBA – Vacuum Cleaner or Hairdryer
80dBA – City Traffic or a Garbage Disposal
90dBA – Motorcycle or Lawnmower
100dBA – MP3 player at maximum output
110dBA – Orchestra
120dBA – Front row rock concert/Jet Engine
130dBA – Threshold of Pain
140dBA – Military Jet takeoff/Gunshot (close range)
160dBA – Instant Perforation of eardrum
As mentioned above, we had some random issues with target temperature settings – we tested with the target temperature set at 65c via the driver. The noise level of the card was noticeable at these settings, and slightly intrusive. With a target temperature set at 75c, the fans spin much slower, and noise drops. Noise dropped to 33.4 and 35.2 respectively in the load tests when the profile showed 75c.
At idle, or under low load the fans disable – when the temperature reaches 53c they start to activate.