PowerColor Radeon R9 390 PCS+ 8 GB Review 53

PowerColor Radeon R9 390 PCS+ 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.

Fan Noise Measurement Setup

The tested graphics card is installed in a system that does not emit any noise on its own, using a 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 inside 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 6 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.
Idle fan noise is fantastic as the card completely turns its fans off in idle (up to 60°C). Light gaming does put enough load on the card to make the fans run at all times, though.

During serious gaming, noise levels reach 38 dBA, which is definitely not quiet, but recent NVIDIA additions like the GTX 980 Ti and Titan X are just as loud. However, custom-design GTX 970 cards, which are the card's direct competition, are a lot quieter, offering a near-noiseless gaming experience; those cards also use a dual-slot cooler where PowerColor's card requires three slots instead.

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