Loud is a relative term. I can hear pretty well, but some things might seem loud enough for me and not for the next person. Sager makes pretty good laptops, but you have to keep in mind that a laptop will never give you the sound experience of a dedicated set of speakers. Those can be had for cheap nowadays and they are easily plugged into the headphones port on the laptop. Even 2.1 systems can be found that give you pretty good bass as well.
Now, if you're talking about how loud the laptop is in terms of fan operation, I did not have the opportunity to check it first hand, but in my experience I have not encountered a laptop that would not allow me to hear the sound of a specific application. A laptop is not nearly as loud as a quiet desktop, so I would not be too concerned about that.
Completely silent means a laptop that is passively cooled, i.e. no fans. Some netbooks might be that way, but I would trust more a machine that cools itself actively and allows me to run something other than just a browser window at a time. Programs mean CPU activity, meaning heat generated. The only laptops that I would be worried about in terms of noise would be a desktop replacement gaming monster machine. Hint: look at the specs, specifically the CPU and the graphics card. If they are high-end, it will be more likely they will have a bigger cooling solution, meaning greater potential noise.
on the other hand, a redundant cooling solution can offer better cooling for less fan speed, meaning less noise.
The key is in the kind of software that you are planning to run on the machine and the specs of that machine. When I push an underpowered laptop to do some gaming, the fan will spin to the max, but same game would only mildly stress a better laptop, meaning no need for max speed of fan.
Good luck with your search, hope it all works out for you.
Thanks again. I was thinking of an upgraded Sager, it's a gaming monster machine and would be a desktop replacement--i don't game, but i do a lot of graphics and layout work. I'm going to look into other brands.--Donna