You'll have to define quiet. Once you get to the high end for video cards, there will be fan noise, it's simply a fact of life. Any card at the 6950 level of performance is going to have high cooling requirements, hence the large coolers and fans. If you can't tolerate fan noise, your only other option would be to set up water cooling for your card.
i run 2 saffire 2gb 6950's. and they are pretty quiet in my opinion, but the fans never really ramp up much because i have a HAF case, even under high loads like playing bf3, i never see them peak above 45c. if you have proper cooling, they should be whisper quiet.
I am using a Powercolor HD 6950 2GB and the fan noise is driving my bird crazy. I play at night and it keeps her awake. It gets on my nerves also. 50% fan speed seems the norm for idle on my card. I am going to look for someone who doesn't mind the fan noise like I do and cut them a deal on this card.
I am open for more suggestions for a replacement card.
Would downgrading to a 6870 lower noise at all?
Would a single fan design be quieter than a dual or triple fan card?
Passive coolers are generally only available on low end cards, some of these can support triple monitors, but you won't get good gaming performance out of most of them. There is one model of the Radeon HD 6850 that is passively cooled. It's the most powerful card with a passive cooler. However, it is a triple slot card thanks to the massive passive cooler, and it suffers from overheating issues when placed under maximum load. It needs optimal airflow in order to adequately cool itself.
Changed the fan speed curve and Afterburner runs 22% and 51'C.
The curve is still there so if the temps increase, the fan speed ramps up. I just lowered the idle fan speed to bring the curve down a bit.
I couldn't even see the curve with CCC and could only set a fixed manual speed in CCC, not the whole curve.
For anyone wanting to try this or see what I did,
1- download MSI Afterburner
2- choose the "user define" option under fan speed
3- select "settings" (located at the bottom of the Afterburner screen)
4- select the "fan" tab
5- set the fan speed curve points
6- click "ok"
Again, you are setting up a curve, not a static fan speed. So as temps rise, the fan will still increase proportionally.