AMD Radeon R9 Nano 4 GB Review 95

AMD Radeon R9 Nano 4 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 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 good, but I would have loved to see an idle-fan-off feature for very light loads and desktop work. Nearly all idle-fan-off cards from NVIDIA will do movie playback while their fans aren't spinning.

Gaming noise better than I expected, the card is in the typical noise range of high-end gaming cards with the 37 dBA it produces.

This changes as soon as we put the card into a small-form-factor case (Silverstone Sugo SG02). Here, the card reaches 41 dBA, which is definitely not quiet, but probably better than not being able to game with an SFF rig at all.

What is extremely annoying, though, is the massive amount of coil noise AMD's review sample emits—no matter the FPS, you can always hear it chirping. The Sapphire retail board is doing much better here, with less pronounced but still audible coil noise. The question is whether these are typical random variations or if retail boards have lower coil noise. But if that were case why did AMD pick such noisy boards for reviewers?

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