However, I don’t want to hear the graphics card’s fan…ever…for any reason. I need it silent and will stick with the Asus 8600GT if necessary. Is there any such thing as a natively quiet 8800 class card do I need an aftermarket cooler. ...and if so what's good and can't likely be heard over extremely quiet Scythe SFlex case fans and my Zalman 9700 from more than 2 feet away?
Any good advice or recommendations you can offer is greatly appreciated.
Honestly, the 8800GTS is pretty quiet. I don't have one myself, but my friends do, and I never hear them. Ever. And their cases are full of Scythe SFlex fans, too. You probably would be ok soundwise if you bought one.
You're best bet for silence is an aftermarket heatsink for the 8800GTX if that's what you really wanted, if your gaming at the native res of 2560x1600 you'll need the GTXs power.
If you do want the GTX but need the silence get the Thermalright HR-03 Plus with a quiet 92mm Panaflo or similiar. Only setback is you can lose a few PCI slots due to its size, if that isn't a problem your system would be quieter and more powerful than before!
You could get Leadtek's liquid-cooled 8800 Ultra. It's self-contained, but I don't think it can do SLI (if you wanted to, that is) due to the waterblock's design. And it's hella expensive...but it's silent.
Thermalright HR-03 plus and a good 92mm fan would make any of the 8800's pretty darn quiet.
There's also the watercool route, if you have a little more money that's a nice way to go. Not sure why people so scared of it, you can use non-conductive liquids so even if it leaks everything is fine...
I have a BFG 8800 GTX OC2 and four SFF21E fans (120mm), plus two stock fans that came with the TJ09. The only thing I can hear is the air moving around For example the DVD drives (LG, Plextor) make a lot more noise when I insert a disk in either of them. As for performance, the OC2 is about as good as an Ultra at stock, I've got no complaints.
My eVGA 8800GTS is by far the loudest component in my current gaming machine. At default fan settings, the His X1950XT IceQ Turbo I used before that was much quieter both during and after gaming. It's not terrible, but when your system is basically near silent, the 8800GTS is definately very noticeable.
But gaming on an 8600GT at 2560x1600? Ouch...not an option IMO.
I was gaming in 2560x1600 with a pair of 7600GT SLI. It was ok. Nothing maxed but still looked amazing and ok FPSs.
I just upgraded to a single GTX and man, it is a lot more than "somewhat acceptable".
But I have to admit, there are some really poorly writen games out there that make me have to turn the res or eye candy so I can decent FPSs.
Yeah I know, but I just can't get myself to play a first person view game (Either RPG or Shooter) without at least 40fps as the minimum, can take a VERY few random 30 fps moments, but I need to be hovering between 50-60 to be a happy camper.