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PowerColor's SCS3 HD6850: Radeon HD 6850 Goes Fanless

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Anonymous
August 9, 2011 4:00:04 AM

It takes guts to try passively cooling a 127 W graphics processor. PowerColor sells the first Radeon HD 6850 we've seen topped only with a heatsink. Does the triple-slot cooler do its job, or is Barts simply too complex of a GPU to cool like this?

PowerColor's SCS3 HD6850: Radeon HD 6850 Goes Fanless : Read more
August 9, 2011 4:48:03 AM

I suggest you turn the music up, or invest in some headphones/ear-buds. This is pretty much just nitpicking over sound levels.
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August 9, 2011 5:20:49 AM

WhysoBluepandabearI suggest you turn the music up, or invest in some headphones/ear-buds. This is pretty much just nitpicking over sound levels.


There's nothing nitpicky about it. Most of the sound being generated by my system is in fact just the fan of my GPU at idle (about 1300rpm, almost twice as fast as the other two fans in my system). It's not easy making a system suitably quiet and fully capable -- you could always go with a cheap passive entry level card if you don't need or want a decent GPU. It's much easier now than in the past, but inevitably something has to give. You may not care about how loud your system is, but I actually put some effort into mine. Plus, it's not like you can't hear a system even with headphones on anyway; open back heaphones don't really attenuate any sound at all. I for one have been waiting on an appropriately quiet GPU -- I'd like some kind of hybrid system where the card's fan stops at idle and ramps up past a threshold temp, like my Seasonic PSU does.

The less noise your system makes, the harder it is to eliminate the remaining sources of noise. For some people a passive GPU can be a make or break part when it comes to keeping the roar in check. This particular GPU may not be appropriate for many systems, but passive performance GPUs are still going to be niche products for some time to come. Hopefully the next generation will be able to more ably pair performance with lower power/heat/noise.
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August 9, 2011 5:33:30 AM

Wow... With the addition of the fan, I think it would be a good card. Pretty good temps with that added fan.
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August 9, 2011 5:39:24 AM

That brings up an interesting question. Would it be possible to build a system that is silent (inaudible from say a distance of 1m) when surfing the net, watching videos etc, but is a full blown high end gaming rig when desired. (obviously not silently)

Could say a GTX570 be cooled passively in 2d mode, and only kick on th fan in games? What about the CPU if it was set to downclock significanty and had a good aftermarket cooler?
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August 9, 2011 5:58:00 AM

comptonThere's nothing nitpicky about it. Most of the sound being generated by my system is in fact just the fan of my GPU at idle (about 1300rpm, almost twice as fast as the other two fans in my system). It's not easy making a system suitably quiet and fully capable -- you could always go with a cheap passive entry level card if you don't need or want a decent GPU. It's much easier now than in the past, but inevitably something has to give. You may not care about how loud your system is, but I actually put some effort into mine. Plus, it's not like you can't hear a system even with headphones on anyway; open back heaphones don't really attenuate any sound at all. I for one have been waiting on an appropriately quiet GPU -- I'd like some kind of hybrid system where the card's fan stops at idle and ramps up past a threshold temp, like my Seasonic PSU does.The less noise your system makes, the harder it is to eliminate the remaining sources of noise. For some people a passive GPU can be a make or break part when it comes to keeping the roar in check. This particular GPU may not be appropriate for many systems, but passive performance GPUs are still going to be niche products for some time to come. Hopefully the next generation will be able to more ably pair performance with lower power/heat/noise.



And then I would say: Just go water cooling if you're that intolerable to fan noise. This card already costs a premium, as would many other items if you were that anal about a few dB.

Water is not only quiet, but a lot better at cooling - And just think, you won't need your Xanax anymore to cope with the fan noise.
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August 9, 2011 6:22:39 AM

did you consider loading the cards with a decent bitcoin miner ? I can get my hd5830 to 99% utilisation according to the linux aticonfig tool (sapphire 5830 xtreme, at 900MHz core and open air it shows 67 degrees celsius). also a bitcoin miner is a good representation of a real world opencl heavy workload.
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August 9, 2011 6:24:04 AM

I can't stand fan noise (or disk noise) and it's great that companies are releasing products with low noise in mind. Still, with this card I'd go with a huge heatsink and a low-RPM fan rather than passive cooling. A 600 RPM 120mm fan (and the airflow it produces) is inaudible (for me at least) and is a great compromise between passive cooling and those vulgar, loud boxes.
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August 9, 2011 6:24:49 AM

WhysoBluepandabearAnd then I would say: Just go water cooling if you're that intolerable to fan noise. This card already costs a premium, as would many other items if you were that anal about a few dB. Water is not only quiet, but a lot better at cooling - And just think, you won't need your Xanax anymore to cope with the fan noise.


There are some ignorant people on here.

Water cooling is not quiet. Decent pumps are loud and the only exception (enhiems 1048 isn't available in my country) along with all the associated fans.

It is nearly impossible to make a quiet high performing system because graphics cards are two noisy.

Seasonic power supply, under-volted nexus real silents and your system is under 20 Dba.

But most graphics cards make 30-40 Dba and those are low-mid end ones.

What comptom says is what i would like as well. With a decent fan controller, it is near possible, but will become a lot more realistic with 28nm
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August 9, 2011 6:31:55 AM

WhysoBluepandabearI suggest you turn the music up, or invest in some headphones/ear-buds. This is pretty much just nitpicking over sound levels.


I don't want to wear headgear just so I could have a pleasant gaming experience. Get a job, invest in some good cooling and have your neckbeard friends marvel at your whisper-quiet rig.
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August 9, 2011 6:55:32 AM

duckgoquackThere are some ignorant people on here.Water cooling is not quiet. Decent pumps are loud and the only exception (enhiems 1048 isn't available in my country) along with all the associated fans.It is nearly impossible to make a quiet high performing system because graphics cards are two noisy.Seasonic power supply, under-volted nexus real silents and your system is under 20 Dba.But most graphics cards make 30-40 Dba and those are low-mid end ones.What comptom says is what i would like as well. With a decent fan controller, it is near possible, but will become a lot more realistic with 28nm



You confuse ignorance, with apathy. I'm also not obsessive over a few dB. I rather throw the money into A.) A better cooling solution - or B.) Just use the money to buy a better GPU and etc.


Trust me, I understand WHY you'd seek a silent system - but some of it is past the point of reason.
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August 9, 2011 7:00:08 AM

And the dude that said water cooling is loud, needs to re-evaluate his knowledge on water cooling.
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August 9, 2011 10:38:15 AM

how about building video card with massive heatsink and ultra quiet fan that turns on only when temps are 80 celcius degree or more? this way it would generate no noise in everyday tasks and only little while playing games, but when you play games you don't care aboute a little extra noise as you have sound on and you don't hear it anyway
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August 9, 2011 11:20:52 AM

I really do love the spirit of this card. I'm just suprised its a 3slot solution. If your case is icy, this card will have no probs. This is not a product that just anybody will be buying and will prolly know what their getn into when they do buy it.
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August 9, 2011 12:47:25 PM

"The test results with the ultra-quiet extra fan, which managed to reduce the card’s temperature by more than 54 degrees Fahrenheit under load, prove that the passive heatsink is excellent, and it only needs a little help."

"Wow... With the addition of the fan, I think it would be a good card."

Hmmmmm...A passive card that needs, um, fans to stay cool? Some passive solution...I'm struggling to see where this card fits in as a viable solution...certainly not an HTPC (at least in %99 of HTPC cases out there).

I understand that a well ventilated case can keep it cool enough, but for the price, why not go with a better card with a massive aftermarket cooling solution, such as the Gigabyte's GV-R687OC-1GD? It is nearly silent as well, even under load, doesn't take up the extra slot, and most importantly its a Radeon HD 6870 for less money.
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August 9, 2011 12:51:52 PM

from Tom's charts it looks like forget this card unless your going silent HTPC or something, go out a grab a GTX 560 Ti....:D 
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August 9, 2011 1:51:55 PM

Well, make it fit inside an ITX or MicroATX enclosure and it will be useful to me...

It's good to see a company trying out new things though. Hopefully they'll improve the passive cooling and get better numbers. Good going PowerColor.

Cheers!
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August 9, 2011 2:18:16 PM

WhysoBluepandabearAnd the dude that said water cooling is loud, needs to re-evaluate his knowledge on water cooling.


There's a difference between quiet and silent. There are many effectively silent PC builds out there ( < 20 dba). None of them are water cooled. Water cooling will only get you so far as you always add the additional noise component of a pump.

In addition, water cooling is not always quiet. Noise is generated primarily by the fans. So a water cooling setup with some Delta 220CFM fans is gonna be loud as as heck, especially if you've got them mounted on an external radiator with nothing trapping the fan noise.

SPCR has a very good guide to building a silent PC and Puget systems makes a 18dba PC. All of which uses air.
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August 9, 2011 3:04:49 PM

Haven't even read the whole article, but the new Test System page is great! Congratulations!
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August 9, 2011 3:35:21 PM

IQ (XBOX 360 users)
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August 9, 2011 7:20:54 PM

YukaWell, make it fit inside an ITX or MicroATX enclosure and it will be useful to me...It's good to see a company trying out new things though. Hopefully they'll improve the passive cooling and get better numbers. Good going PowerColor.Cheers!

I'm not surprised PowerColor is capable of this, if they could make a single slot 6850 and a low profile 5750 I'm pretty ure they got their cooling systems down pat.
http://www.powercolor.com/Global/products_features.asp?...
They don't sell the 5750 anymore.
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August 9, 2011 8:04:59 PM

I have a passively cooled 4850 (1GB) card with a slow and quiet fan keeping the temps down even further. The fan adds no additional noise that I can hear and keeps idle at 43-48C depending on room temp and below 70C maxed out in games.
I'd like a performance boost but the 6850 probably wouldn't give me enough to be worth the money. It's great to see passive cards still coming to the market. When the next die-shrink comes it should yield enough performance to make an upgrade worthwhile. Might actually have enough money then to buy the thing :( 
Oh and it's worth having a quiet PC when it's in your bedroom and needs to be on all night.
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August 9, 2011 10:44:57 PM

In the old times passive coolers were much better than active ones (in windy cases) good old times seems to wink back at us ;D Give us full copper solution and some extra mounting for stability.
This could rock for OC or perfect silence :) 
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August 9, 2011 10:57:57 PM

compton said:
There's nothing nitpicky about it. Most of the sound being generated by my system is in fact just the fan of my GPU at idle (about 1300rpm, almost twice as fast as the other two fans in my system). It's not easy making a system suitably quiet and fully capable -- you could always go with a cheap passive entry level card if you don't need or want a decent GPU. It's much easier now than in the past, but inevitably something has to give. You may not care about how loud your system is, but I actually put some effort into mine. Plus, it's not like you can't hear a system even with headphones on anyway; open back heaphones don't really attenuate any sound at all. I for one have been waiting on an appropriately quiet GPU -- I'd like some kind of hybrid system where the card's fan stops at idle and ramps up past a threshold temp, like my Seasonic PSU does.

The less noise your system makes, the harder it is to eliminate the remaining sources of noise. For some people a passive GPU can be a make or break part when it comes to keeping the roar in check. This particular GPU may not be appropriate for many systems, but passive performance GPUs are still going to be niche products for some time to come. Hopefully the next generation will be able to more ably pair performance with lower power/heat/noise.

First off what are the conditions to were one would need a very very quiet PC? Just curious because I cant see gaming away and paying any attention to noise unless the noise was just crazy loud.

Second you could try finding a card like this http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168.... At stock fan speeds the card stays very cool and is also very quiet. You could use that as a starting point then adjust the fan profile in Afterburner so that it is say 10% at idle and then doesn't start ramping up until after the card hits say 70c. Combine that with a very quiet side case fan and I bet you could get this card running a very low fan speeds most of the time.

Again though I never seem to be able to understand why one would need a rig to be that silent. I have a PC right not with I think 7-8 fans and this is by no means a quiet PC and I dont think I have ever been gaming and thought " I wish my rig was quieter "??? :??: 
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Anonymous
August 10, 2011 12:58:11 AM

I've got a Gigabyte Windforce 6850 with twin fans. I'm sitting next to it and I can't hear it, even in 3DMark, let alone gaming. Fanless is unnecessary.
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August 10, 2011 3:02:43 AM

WhysoBluepandabearAnd the dude that said water cooling is loud, needs to re-evaluate his knowledge on water cooling.

water cooling is loud, lol, unless you have a really big rad and 9 fans spining at 1/4 speed
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August 10, 2011 8:03:44 AM

I have never really been annoyed by fan noise coming from my PC. I either have headphones on or the volume cranked when Im playing a game or a movie. Personally, Id rather deal with some fan noise and know my hardware is being properly cooled then trying to make it silent and wondering if the stuff inside is trying to cook itself it not. To each their own, I suppose.
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August 10, 2011 2:00:20 PM

YargnitThat brings up an interesting question. Would it be possible to build a system that is silent (inaudible from say a distance of 1m) when surfing the net, watching videos etc, but is a full blown high end gaming rig when desired.

Yes, but it would be expensive! Zalman sells/sold a totally fanless case, and it worked well, but it cost over a thousand dollars.
Endpcnoise.com has some amazing silent or quiet systems, but you pay quite a premium for the build.

My 1.5 cents: Put the computer in your basement and use really long cables. (yes, I am aware of the cable length limits. But you can get extenders, or run video over IP.)
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August 10, 2011 2:11:59 PM

WyomingKnott said:
Yes, but it would be expensive! Zalman sells/sold a totally fanless case, and it worked well, but it cost over a thousand dollars.
Endpcnoise.com has some amazing silent or quiet systems, but you pay quite a premium for the build.

(My 1.5 cents: Put the computer in your basement and use really long cables. (yes, I am aware of the cable length limits. But you can get extenders, or run video over IP.)

Nice one... :lol: 
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August 10, 2011 3:58:44 PM

WyomingKnott said:
Yes, but it would be expensive! Zalman sells/sold a totally fanless case, and it worked well, but it cost over a thousand dollars.
Endpcnoise.com has some amazing silent or quiet systems, but you pay quite a premium for the build.

My 1.5 cents: Put the computer in your basement and use really long cables. (yes, I am aware of the cable length limits. But you can get extenders, or run video over IP.)

Second idea on a silent PC.......STOP BEING SO DAMN PICKY lol I have never understood hw some people can be so picky about noise. Im not talking about 6990 noise lol but to go fanless on a GPU? My MSI Twin Frozer cant be heard over my CPU fan at 60% fan speed lol
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August 10, 2011 5:10:04 PM

How much does it weigh compared to other cards? Or did I miss that part?

Looks heavy... Bad for mobo...
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August 10, 2011 7:30:31 PM

Must be great on crossfire!
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August 10, 2011 10:04:08 PM

K2N hater said:
Must be great on crossfire!

LOL..
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August 11, 2011 1:00:58 AM

that sure is a long conclusion just to say it doesn't work as advertised.
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August 11, 2011 1:46:25 AM

Ahh. I love the Slip Stream 800. It is acing my tests on the D14. OTOH, it is a sleeve bearing fan, and when this vidcard is in a standard case, the fan will be oriented in a way that is bad for a Sleeve bearing fan.

Further, I see that the cooling fins are set closely together, which suggests the need for a bit of static pressure. I would suggest trying a Gentle Typhoon AP-11 (500 rpm) or AP-12 (800 rpm). Together they would make an ultra-quiet video card.
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August 11, 2011 2:42:33 AM

What I didn't like about this article is the way it was tested in the first place. No one would use it in a open air enviorment OR in a small poorly ventilated case.
It would work very well I would think in Cooler Masters larger case like their HAF X case would have no problem keeping this card very cool with a huge side mounted fan and with a optional fan that also moves air along the video card. And there are a lot of other cases that this card would work well in but this wasn't even checked out. Why?
It would probably run close to the range of the mounted fan temps using this case. It would be a good mix if you did your homework and buy to fit the overall system capability.
This was not even addressed in this article which is very poor thinking up front. Even mentioning putting it in a desktop or a mini atx case is loony bin material.
If you start out with a set up to fail it isn't any supprise why it does. Heatsinks need air movement to work so a open case setup isn't valid.
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August 11, 2011 6:15:34 AM

cburke82Second idea on a silent PC.......STOP BEING SO DAMN PICKY lol I have never understood hw some people can be so picky about noise...

I use my computer for video editing and sometimes I shoot video while tethered to it to avoid the compression of HDV. A fanless or nearly fanless GPU would be worth an extra 100 bucks to me, assuming it fit in my case.
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August 11, 2011 9:13:43 AM

Ok, i have a question about this hd6850 serei. What if i want to use a central digital monitor and two old vga displays for eyefinity? Would i be able to do that or i will have to buy 2 minidDP to vga converters (30€ each)? Will this board be able to move crysis2 in that configuration or better if i stick to my old hd4870?

THanks, and sorry it this an OT
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August 11, 2011 9:50:47 AM

Great article - thanks for bringing this card to my attention. I currently have the next best option (1GB Sapphire HD 5670 Ultimate) and was wondering when something better might come along in this rarest of markets. I will wait until X-Plane 10 comes out before pressing ahead with an upgrade... hopefully the price will be a bit more favourable then.

Thanks again.
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August 11, 2011 12:36:06 PM

billcat479 said:
What I didn't like about this article is the way it was tested in the first place. No one would use it in a open air enviorment OR in a small poorly ventilated case.

Didn't one of the pages have temperature levels in various cases?
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August 11, 2011 6:32:49 PM

distanted said:
I use my computer for video editing and sometimes I shoot video while tethered to it to avoid the compression of HDV. A fanless or nearly fanless GPU would be worth an extra 100 bucks to me, assuming it fit in my case.

I guess for this one purpose it does make some sense. Though I wonder how much a quiet twin fan setup set to low speeds would show up on your video. How close is the camera/mic to you PC wile filming?
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August 12, 2011 7:15:18 AM

I'm confused how this card can be recommended at all. Mediocre performance compared to other HD6850s. It runs extremely hot under pressure, the quiet operation no where near makes up for how much A/C you'll be paying for, and three PCI slots is just ridiculous... One of the biggest factors for an HTPC is size.

The design and performance of this card just has me completely baffled and why anyone would purchase it is well beyond any reasonable logic.

Once again, Powercolor is overrated.
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Anonymous
August 12, 2011 9:10:52 AM

Where can you buy it ? I don't see it in any shop.
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August 13, 2011 10:00:07 AM

i don't get how you guys are so oblivious to noise. I'm a light gamer, but i don't get why you really need anything more powerful than a 6850 anyway.

Noise levels is so important. My computer which is quiet compared to most lives in my room. Where i live we can only get really slow mobile broadband. If i want to download a new game via steam, or even a new browser it takes 6 hours. The only time i have time for that is at night, and the hum drives me insane.

When you are busy reading an ebook, surfing the net or programming, it is way easier in dead silence, which barely any computer can give.

It is so easy to have a very quiet rig, but in all of those have integrated graphics, with this you can actually play games at decent settings. Still it doesn't quite cool enough, but it will be great to see powercolour put a cooler like this on a next gen chip
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August 13, 2011 3:54:42 PM

Ultra quiet rigs are really appealing, but I have to say that I am more interested in squeezing out every ounce of potential from my system. Undervolting/clocking are too counter-intuitive for me to seriously consider. My (outdated) rig has 5 case fans making it a noticeable member of the room, but it also runs within 8-10 degrees of ambient under load. Heat is more of an enemy than is noise, just get adjustable fans and control your noise that way.
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August 15, 2011 12:34:20 AM

Quote:
These situations demonstrate the limits of pure passive cooling on a mid-range card.


I wouldn't say that. It's seems more like a limitation of the passive heatsink used by Powercolor and perhaps it's also a consequence of several other choices made to keep costs down.

- voltage regulator and circuitry not cooled at all (some would argue it's not required)
- in addition it uses a cost effective chip that won't allow changing the voltages via i2c
- aluminum heat pipes instead of copper and they could have spaced the fins (blades) more closely for a bigger radiant surface and maybe they could have made the card a bit longer by rotating the 6pin connector 90 degrees.

and I could go on.


The Accelero v1 rev 2 seems to cool my 4850 just fine with plenty of headroom (though I agree it barely hits 100 watts compared to 130-120 watts on the 6850).

They could have also connected the heatsink somehow to the metal plate, therefore connecting everything to the metal case - but this is a bit risky as the whole case is ground for the system and I'm not sure this is safe for a heatsink. Some CPU heatsinks do connect straight to a metal backplate that often is connected to the case so I don't know....
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Anonymous
August 15, 2011 4:13:51 PM

CBurke... why not have a silent PC? If that's what someone wants, who are you to tell them that it's pointless?

I, for one, love to play games on my 2500k/6850 system but also like listening to music and studying with my computer on. fan noise is a pain in the butt when trying to study or listening to some quiet music.
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Anonymous
August 19, 2011 5:13:37 AM

noise generated by some high end video cards now a days are just ridiculous.
without a good way to cut heat generation down, in the future maybe water cooling will become a standard.
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August 19, 2011 6:08:27 PM

duckgoquack said:
i don't get how you guys are so oblivious to noise. I'm a light gamer, but i don't get why you really need anything more powerful than a 6850 anyway.

Noise levels is so important. My computer which is quiet compared to most lives in my room. Where i live we can only get really slow mobile broadband. If i want to download a new game via steam, or even a new browser it takes 6 hours. The only time i have time for that is at night, and the hum drives me insane.

When you are busy reading an ebook, surfing the net or programming, it is way easier in dead silence, which barely any computer can give.

It is so easy to have a very quiet rig, but in all of those have integrated graphics, with this you can actually play games at decent settings. Still it doesn't quite cool enough, but it will be great to see powercolour put a cooler like this on a next gen chip

The problem with your logic here is that if you are not gaming most GPU's can be very quiet. With MSI afterburner you could set you fan speed to be at 10% wile the card is not in use. At 10% fan speed in most cases you will not here the GPU fan wile you may still here the CPU fan. Also your specific situation is probably not that common. Wile I can see having a wailing fan in your bedroom wile your trying to sleep most people will not have to deal with that problem. Also why not do the download will your at work or school? That should take up the six or so hours just fine without you having to be in the room. And then the next point is you yourself say your a light gamer. So someone who is more than a light gamer might find the need for much more than a 6850 and with the increased temps who knows how stable this thing is long term. Will we see these cards burning up a year from now as people forget to clean them or the daily high temps take there toll, who knows ?
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August 19, 2011 6:11:57 PM

Quote:
CBurke... why not have a silent PC? If that's what someone wants, who are you to tell them that it's pointless?

I, for one, love to play games on my 2500k/6850 system but also like listening to music and studying with my computer on. fan noise is a pain in the butt when trying to study or listening to some quiet music.

Why would your GPU be blasting away when your doing homework or listing to music? If someone wants a silent pc thats cool. But having a GPU with no fan that is getting very hot might not be the best solution. At some point if you want a real gaming rig you will have to deal with at least some noise. Wile doing homework you can have the fan speed set very very low on your GPU as its not in use, at those low speed I will bet that you will hear the CPU fan way before you hear the GPU fan.
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