Well, I have a bit of OCD when it comes to the noise of my PC. I don't mind a quiet whooshing noise, but other types of noise really get into my head. Although this may seem silly, the IceQ just looks ridiculous to me. Besides, I've had bad experiences with HIS in the past, and I'd rather not go back to them.
Oh, and thank you Tiger! I didn't realize that chart listed noise as well.
Noise is very important in gaming when it gets to the point of being distracting. Mine is a reference model and i will freakin never do that again. Bloody hair dryer a lot of the time. Turning msaa down and txaa up helped a lot (bf3 metro gets loud when folks pop lots of smoke).
I also game kind of late into the night sometimes, and certain members of my family (who's room is right next to mine) go to bed early. We have rather thin walls, so ya. Headphones probably won't do the trick. Thanks for the links though! I'll look into those!
If you're looking for a quiet card, just above that IceQ card on the list (like 1 or 2 7870's) is the DirectCUII model from Asus. If you want a quiet card get that, the cooling you get while still maintaining performance on DirectCUII coolers is quite rediculous. I have one on my overclocked (TOP) GTX 670 and it's almost inaudible, even when gaming.
I'll agree with J_e_d_70; GPU noice can be an aweful experience. It's definitely something that should be reasearched before making a purchase. I think unksol has been lucky and never ended up with a "hair dryer" in his case. The worst I've ever read about were the reference GTX 470 and 480.
Anyway, I've only read good things about the HIS IceQ Radeon cards. They do look a bit weird, kind of like a motor cycle chain guard(as one article mentioned). But the design really works well. It draws air from both sides of the blower (kind of hard to see in pics).
I'll also have to check out the DirectCUII design as mention by mclovits.
Lol. my first case from 2003 I used for 7 years had 7 80mm fans. And 2 4850s at one point. I am not sure it hit "hair dryer" but it definitely got up there. Maybe its just me it does not bother. But I do live alone at the moment.
I really can't see a "modern" gpu being "loud" relative to that setup though