Fan NoiseIn past years, gamers would accept everything for a little bit more performance. Nowadays, users are more aware of the fan noise and the power consumption of their graphics cards.
In order to properly test the fan noise that a card emits, we use the Bruel & Kjaer 2236 sound-level meter (~$4,000). It has the measurement range and the accuracy we are looking for.
The tested graphics card was installed in a system that was completely cooled passively. That is, passive PSU, passive CPU cooler, and passive cooling on the motherboard and on 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 was conducted at a distance of 100 cm and 160 cm off the floor. The ambient background noise level 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. 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. The 3D load noise levels were tested with a stressful game, not with Furmark.
I had really high hopes for the noise levels of the new DC II cooler and am, to be honest, a bit disappointed.
Noise levels in idle are slightly higher than the reference design--it would have been easy to at least match the NVIDIA board here because temperatures are comfortably cool.
During gaming, the card matches the noise levels of the reference GTX 780 exactly, which isn't bad. I just wish ASUS would have reaped the benefits of the improved cooler instead of focusing on lower temperatures.
Update: ASUS sent me an updated BIOS that improves gaming noise levels of the card dramatically. NVIDIA's Boost 2.0 tries to manually adjust fan speed levels to avoid sudden changes. ASUS did not take this mechanism into account, so the card ended up running higher fan speeds than intended. With the new BIOS, the card reaches 72°C under load (good), and noise levels are reduced by 6 dBA (very good). You can find the updated BIOS here, but it will also be included on all retail cards.