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.
We use the Bruel & Kjaer 2236 sound-level meter (~$4,000) to properly test the fan noise a card emits. 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 system passively. That is, passive PSU, passive CPU cooler, and 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 was 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 were tested with a stressful game, not with Furmark.
Idle noise levels are great, making the card barely audible. During gaming, we measured 34 dBA, but that result is lower than its actual noise level because the card kept running into the VRM temperature limit before clocking down during our noise testing. Subjective noise levels during gaming are more likely in the 38 dBA range, which is alright but not quiet.
MSI sent me an updated BIOS, which fixed the overheating and delivered very acceptable noise levels in the 33 dBA range.