We have changed our method of measuring noise levels. We have built a system inside a Lian Li chassis with no case fans and have used a fanless cooler on our CPU. We are using a heatpipe based passive power supply and an Intel SSD to keep noise levels to a minimum. The motherboard is also passively cooled. This gives us a build with completely passive cooling and it means we can measure noise of just the graphics card inside the system when we run looped 3dMark tests.
Ambient noise in the room is around 20-25dBa. 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.
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.
KitGuru noise guide
10dBA – Normal Breathing/Rustling Leaves
20-25dBA – Whisper
30dBA – High Quality Computer fan
40dBA – A Bubbling Brook, or a Refridgerator
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
The card at idle is very quiet, measuring 29.2 dBa. The fan only spins at 1,100rpm which results in this low noise threshold. When tasked however the fan quickly spins – up to 2,900 rpm when gaming.
This generates 39.4 dBa which is very audible and more than we would expect from a HD7870. To make matters worse, when we loaded the card with the synthetic Furmark software, the single fan spins to over 3,600rpm – rated at 96% of the maximum fan speed. At this speed we recorded 46.4dBA which is quite frankly painful and one of the loudest results we have documented in the last year.
This card is in dire need of a two fan configuration with a couple of extra heatpipes to transfer heat from the core quicker. Very disappointing results.