Video Card Fan Sound Question

I just installed my new PowerColor ATI Radeon HD 4870 today along with the drivers, and so far I've enjoyed the visual performance in my games. However, this is my first discrete video card and a performance model no less. I'm wondering if the fan noise is normal.

I can hear it about three feet from my computer and I don't have a reference to judge it against. It does rev up and down properly. I will be on the desktop or working on the Internet and I can't hear it at all. However, when I get into 3d games, I definitely can hear it and I worry I might be over-stressing it.

My first question to assuage immediate worry is does the card have any protections built in? Such as if temps get to high will it throttle its processor or something to keep it from creating more heat? If something is wrong would playing a game do any damage to it, or would there just be temporary problems. I'm not trying to do anything aggressive like crank up the settings, just playing on auto-detected ratings. Do I need to cease usage immediately?

My second question is is it normal? To ascertain that I guess you need as detailed system specs as possible.

All of my components are in a Cooler Master ATX Mid-Tower Case with a Side 120mm Intake Fan, a CPU vent, and a rear 120mm Exhaust Fan.

My motherboard is a Asrock K10N78M mATX motherboard.

My CPU is a AMD Phenom II X2 Black Edition Callisto 3.1GHz Processor.

My memory is GSKILL 4GB (2x2GB) DDR2 1066 5-5-5-15 @ 2.1V, but I'm running mine at DDR2 800 5-5-5-15 @ 1.8V because the faster setting results in errors due to undetermined as of yet BIOS settings issues or hardware issues.

All of my components are powered by a IKONIK Gaia 500W Power Supply.

Any insight as to whether things are right or wrong and why would be appreciated. Thank you.
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More about video card sound question
  1. That's normal. Gaming cards do make noise because they generate a lot of heat when they are stressed. You can purchase an after market cooler if you want it to be a little quieter. There are passive coolers (no fans) that you can buy for video cards, but the HD 4870 is too hot to be passively cooled.

    To the best of my knowledge, video cards do not throttle. An overheated card will cause your PC to lock up or kick you back to the desktop as the video card tries to recover.

    You can use ATI Tray Tools to experiment with overclocking your card. The while Catalyst can "find" the best overclock for your card, it generally over-shoots by quiet a bit and you will experience crashes sooner rather than later.
  2. It's a pretty noisy card, about 43-44 decibels at load. As it gets hotter the fan ramps up and gets noisier. It's running as it should run. I'd download a hardware monitor and keep an eye on your temps to make sure it isn't overheating. There are a few options you can do in case it's too noisy for you to bear such as underclocking it, adjusting it's fan speed with ATIs software, adding an aftermarket VGA cooler or a few other things.
  3. I'm not going to overclock. I like my components to have longevity. And I was running a graphically intense scene in F.E.A.R. on high settings and the Catalyst utility displayed a GPU temperature of 57 degrees Celsius. A silky smooth 75 min FPS though.
  4. 57 Celsius is good but is that idle or on load. I'm guessing its load but just wondering
  5. Yes. F.E.A.R. is an fps game.
  6. If it's running that cool then you can use ATI catalyst software suite to slow the fan down a bit, that should help the noise.
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