Recently 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 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
At idle, we recorded very similar dB ratings when compared against the reference card. When loaded, the ICE Q X cooler generated less noise than the reference board, although HIS claims of -7 dB seem a little optimistic. The fan speed generally hovers around 35% at idle, with a maximum speed of 47% recorded after 1 hour of intensive Furmark stress testing. These noise levels are not intrusive at all.
The video below highlights the moderate noise levels from one foot away with our HD camera pointed at the open case. This is neither a scientific approach or a real world situation, after all you won’t be sitting with your ear one foot away from a video card in front of an open chassis. It is worth pointing out that there are other system fans running (several chassis and a CPU fan on the Xigmatek cooler).