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Noise Level, Temperature and Clock Rates

The noise level of each cooler was measured between 1:00 and 3:00 AM in a closed room about 20 m2 big using CENTER-321 electronic noise meter. The noise level for each cooler was tested outside the system case when the only noise sources in the lab were the cooler and its fan. The noise meter was installed on a tripod and was always at a 150 mm distance from the cooler fan rotor. The tested cooling systems were placed at the edge of the desk on a sheet of polyurethane foam. The lowest noise reading our noise meter device can register is 29.8 dBA and the subjectively comfortable noise level in these testing conditions was around 36 dBA (do not mix it up with low noise level). The fan(s) rotation speed was adjusted in the entire supported range using our in-house controller by changing the voltage with 0.5 V increment.

Let’s take a look at the obtained results:

We don’t have really quiet graphics card in this review. Any of them is audible in 3D mode against the background noise of our testbed, yet the Inno3D iChill GTX 650 Ti BOOST should be given credit for being the closest to the subjectively comfortable level in the automatic fan regulation mode. According to the diagram, the Palit seems the quietest across the entire speed range, but the fans of this card’s cooler always produced a light but unpleasant rattle. The MSI and Zotac are comparable in terms of noisiness whereas the Gigabyte’s cooler is a little louder (at the same speeds). The EVGA and the reference Nvidia are the loudest cards here. As for subjective impressions, the Gigabyte’s cooler seems to be the most agreeable to the ear.

Of course, the coolers’ fans rotated at different speeds in the automatic regulation mode, so we should indicate this fact in our diagram as we usually do. However, that would produce an unreadable picture since we’ve got so many cards today. That’s why we want to show you the noise level in the automatic regulation mode and at the maximum speed in a separate diagram that also reports the peak temperature of each GPU.

The graphics cards are sorted in the order of ascending GPU temperature. Here are the results:

The Inno3D is ahead in both fan regulation modes. It is also superior in terms of noise level when regulated automatically. The Gigabyte and MSI share second place, looking very good in this competition. The Zotac and Palit are less efficient, finding themselves in the middle of the diagram. The least efficient and the loudest coolers from EVGA and Nvidia take last places.

The next table lists the graphics cards’ frequencies at their default settings and when overclocked. The best numbers are red and the worst numbers are blue.

The reference card from Nvidia is the best in terms of GPU overclocking, but the highest boost clock rate was shown by the MSI, which also had the worst result in GPU overclocking. The Palit and EVGA have the best and worst results, respectively, in terms of memory overclocking.

The next diagram shows the temperature of each GPU when overclocked and the noise level in the automatic fan regulation mode. The cards are sorted in the order of ascending peak GPU temperature.

The Inno3D is brilliant again. It is not just the quietest card in this review. It also features the most efficient cooler. The MSI and Gigabyte are close behind the leader whereas the remaining four cards can’t please you with low temperature and noise in overclocked mode.

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