Noise is a very serious issue lest you want a small hoover under your desk.
I bought the Radeon XT1950Pro and on idle it sounds like a small aeroplane taking off (fan constant at 76%). My GF 8800 GTS 512 is more civilised, running its fan at 36% but under load it exceeds 82C. Luckly even with the fan at 65% you can barely hear it.
Obviously each manufacturer uses slightly different fans (and different fan profiles), so I suppose not all XT1950Pros are the same. The consumer has no way of telling if his new graphics card will be competing with the hoover or not.
I was pleased to see Tom's latest article on the ATI 4850 mentioning noise and temperature and I wish he continues to review and score graphics cards based on noise not only the prelease items but commercial items, for example I would like to see how an Asus card compares with an MSI card for noise.
My X1950 Pro is the same. It's a Sapphire version, before they changed their cooling solution with the Ultimate or whatever they call it. I can't hear it while the card is idle (fan stays steady at 40%), but once I give it something to do it gets pretty loud.
You can use ATI Tray Tools to change the fan settings, so it won't ramp the fan up so high when it's just idling. It's under Hardware>Overclocking Settings.
And there are differences from OEM to OEM, like HIS has their quiet IceQ line, and others have passive or 'more passive' solutions.
Many reviewers do put up their lists nowadays it's becoming a more common item to include.
I always headphone gamed, so it never bothered me on my gaming rig, and editing rig was passive cooled, but with the way things are going now if you only had one rig and it was on for long stretches of non-gaming, that would be annoying.