The 212 Cooler has a large heatsink that never gets much airflow on it's very top fins, the direct air from the fan must have demonstrated that change.
As for the graphics card...
Logically GPU fans depend on steady air pressure in the case. Just like blowing into an empty soda bottle, you get air coming out as fast as you blow in. The fans on the GPU probably couldn't grab enough pressure to fully immerse it's heatsink.
That decorative shroud around each graphics card is actually not for looks, it directs airflow out the back of the case in a straight line. I am assuming there was just too much air pushing around in the case, rather than in the intended design by the case engineers.