AMD Radeon R9 295X2 8 GB Review 121

AMD Radeon R9 295X2 8 GB Review

Performance Summary »

Fan Noise

In past years, gamers would accept everything for a little bit more performance. Nowadays, users are more aware of their graphics card's fan noise and power consumption.

In order to properly test the fan noise a card emits, we use a Bruel & Kjaer 2236 sound-level meter (~$4,000). It has the measurement range and the accuracy we are looking for.

The tested graphics card is installed in a system that does not emit any noise on its own, using passive PSU, passive CPU cooler, passive cooling on the motherboard and a solid state drive. Noise results of other cards on this page are measurements of the respective reference design.

This setup allows us to eliminate secondary noise sources and test only the video card. To be more compliant with standards like DIN 45635 (we are not claiming to be fully DIN 45635 certified), the measurement is conducted at a distance of 100 cm and 160 cm off the floor. Ambient background noise in the room was well below 20 dBA for all measurements. Please note that the dBA scale is not linear but logarithmic. 40 dBA is not twice as loud as 20 dBA, as a 3 dBA increase results in double the sound pressure. The human hearing perception is a bit different, and it is generally accepted that a 10 dBA increase doubles the perceived sound level. 3D load noise levels are tested with a stressful game, not with Furmark.
Watercooling has the potential to create very quiet solutions while dealing with even high heat output, like on the Radeon R9 295X2. While AMD didn't fail to do so completely, noise levels are certainly less than ideal.

The card is just too noisy in idle, period. AMD is running both the fan on the card, which cools the VRM, and the fan on the radiator, which cools both GPUs, at speeds that are way too high to keep a card cool that is producing 40 W of heat. Pretty much every air-cooled graphics card is substantially quieter in idle.

During gaming, the watercooling solution unfolds its full potential by keeping the card quieter than the R9 290X/290/HD 7990 while it delivers much better gaming performance.

As you can hear for yourself in the video on page 29, the R9 295X2, like the HD 7990, unfortunately suffers from some coil noise issues. While its coil noise is not nearly as bad as that of the HD 7990, it is still present and audible, depending on the game, framerate, and GPU load. While I understand that it is not easy to handle such power draw, I would have expected AMD's engineers to pay more attention to this particular detail after the HD 7990 coil-noise drama. Other editors have confirmed that their sample also suffers from coil noise, although to varying degrees.

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