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 Post subject: HD 5850/5870 HD 6950/6970 HD 7770 HD 7850 idle noise levels?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2013 10:38 am 
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Hi there!
To jump into my question quickly, I will mention that I do not care about noise under load... but idle noise levels are important to me.

Im wondering if anyone can give me some input on the following graphics cards, and if they can be made quiet by making a custom fan curve in MSI Afterburner. Aftermarket fans are not an option.
How quiet is my computer? I have two Scythe Slip Stream 120mm case fans running at 600rpm, and they are practically inaudible in my system. Any increase in fan speed can clearly be heard. The loudest component I have is my 7200rpm Samsung Spinpoint F3 hard drive suspended on elastics.
Question #1:
So... can these cards be quiet at idle?
Used: Asus HD 5850 (non-reference cooler, looks like this: http://www.legitreviews.com/images/revi ... OP_top.jpg )
Used: HD 5870 (reference cooler)
Used: HD 6950 with dualbios (flashed to 6970) with reference cooler
New: Just about any HD 7770 is an option. The Sapphire HD 7770 OC looks nice for a good price.
New: HD 7850 ... this is an option I want to avoid if possible because I dont want to spend that much money. Only the cheapest 1GB models come into play.

I just sold my Sapphire HD 5770 Vapor-X, and it could barely keep the GPU under 45C (my custom fan curve) at idle and maintain silence (I call ~20% fan speed on that model silent to me). I will be adding two more case fans running at about 500-600rpm later to help silently remove heat from the case.

I would like a card that is at least slightly faster than the HD 7770 if possible, which is why Im looking into the other options here.

Question #2:
When making a custom fan curve for your graphics card, what temperature would you feel comfortable with as an idle temperature? My custom fan curve on the HD 5770 kept the fan speed at 20% (inaudible) until it hit 45C, then I set the fan speed to climb.


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 Post subject: Re: HD 5850/5870 HD 6950/6970 HD 7770 HD 7850 idle noise lev
PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2013 4:22 pm 
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Instead of farting about with used/old high TDP GPUs, how about just getting this MSI GTX 650 Ti? $110, performance is generally between the 7770 and 7850 and it's very quiet.

idle temps: I doubt you'd have an issue with any of the 650 Ti's or any 7770 as they seem to idle below 30C with stock profile.

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 Post subject: Re: HD 5850/5870 HD 6950/6970 HD 7770 HD 7850 idle noise lev
PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2013 1:57 am 
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mistaspeedy wrote:
My custom fan curve on the HD 5770 kept the fan speed at 20% (inaudible) until it hit 45C, then I set the fan speed to climb.

Why does it matter that the idle temp should be so low? The card can safely run similar temps at idle or load so why not keep it quieter until a higher temperature. The fact that modern cards do run at so much lower temps when idle is a side effect of downclocking/volting to save power, it is not a design requirement and can therefore be matched by lower fan speeds too. When idle I would simply use the lowest fan speed allowable.

No graphics card I have ever had still has it's standard BIOS or cooler with all but one of them (thank you very much 6600GT AGP with your crazy layout :twisted: ) running passive. I am very much one for modding graphics card coolers as the tones produced by graphics cards I find harsh. I would always therefore go for the aftermarket passive/semi-passive route if possible.

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 Post subject: Re: HD 5850/5870 HD 6950/6970 HD 7770 HD 7850 idle noise lev
PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2013 3:53 am 
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edh wrote:
I would always therefore go for the aftermarket passive/semi-passive route if possible.


IDK some card have very good HS now Asus, Gigabyte, Etc. I try to steer clear of after market HS after having bad experience with a previous one.

On a side note what do you use for editing you BIOS, i have tried Nibitor but it complains it doesn't recognize the BIOS.

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 Post subject: Re: HD 5850/5870 HD 6950/6970 HD 7770 HD 7850 idle noise lev
PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2013 5:29 am 
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Spoon Boy wrote:
IDK some card have very good HS now Asus, Gigabyte, Etc.

Unless they're passive they're no match for some of the aftermarket coolers in terms of silence and there are better thermal solutions too.

Spoon Boy wrote:
I try to steer clear of after market HS after having bad experience with a previous one.

What kind of bad experience did you have?

Spoon Boy wrote:
On a side note what do you use for editing you BIOS, i have tried Nibitor but it complains it doesn't recognize the BIOS.

NiBiTor is for NVIDIA cards, RaBiT is for ATI cards. Be aware that some newer cards may not be supported immediately by the tools. Also make sure you have an escape route such as onboard graphics to boot and flash the card back just instead.

I've never broken a card by flashing it even when putting different BIOSes on a card and doing some pretty crazy things that the manufacturers never intended - I'm pretty sure I have the worlds best FX5600! :lol:

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Last edited by edh on Thu Jan 31, 2013 8:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: HD 5850/5870 HD 6950/6970 HD 7770 HD 7850 idle noise lev
PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2013 8:34 am 
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If the aftermarket HS can take 120mm or is passive then i agree you cant beat them with even the best manufactures HS, when not under load i think most modern GPU's underclock/undervolt a lot so they don't need much cooling.
Under load its a different story, as a lot of aftermarket HS are simply bigger :)

The bad experience i had was with a 8800GT, after a few years the heatsink lost full contact with the core. Took me ages to work out it wasn't a problem with the card but the aftermarket HS, has great fun wiggling the HS to get the card stable enough to play a game :lol:

I guess ill have to wait for NibiTor to get update to support GTX 6x0 series.

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 Post subject: Re: HD 5850/5870 HD 6950/6970 HD 7770 HD 7850 idle noise lev
PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2013 9:07 am 
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Thanks for the input guys. Yes, the GeForce 650ti is also an option which has to be considered.
As for keeping the GPU temperature that low... there is no particular reason... I had no experience with what the idle temps should or should not be, but from what has been said here, it seems I can turn down the fan and not worry about higher temps... thanks for the info :)

I am trying to get the absolute most performance for my money, which is why Im considering these older, high TDP cards. If they can be made quiet, Ill go for them, if not, then something like the 650ti comes into play.

For now, the HD 6950 (flashed to HD 6970) is my most likely option.


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 Post subject: Re: HD 5850/5870 HD 6950/6970 HD 7770 HD 7850 idle noise lev
PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2013 7:04 pm 
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I'd look at the 7750 or 7770 cards.

As to temp at idle anything below 60c is fine by me if it means quiet. If I have to have a fan running on the graphics card then I slow the fan down if the idle goes below 40c. So I guess 40c to 60c idle and below 80c at full load if I can do it at a reasonable noise level.

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 Post subject: Re: HD 5850/5870 HD 6950/6970 HD 7770 HD 7850 idle noise lev
PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 2:44 am 
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dhanson865 wrote:
As to temp at idle anything below 60c is fine by me if it means quiet. If I have to have a fan running on the graphics card then I slow the fan down if the idle goes below 40c. So I guess 40c to 60c idle and below 80c at full load if I can do it at a reasonable noise level.


Why do you need lower idle temps than load temps? I don't agree with this. The fact you typically get lower idle temps is due to lower idle power consumption caused by downclocking/volting and turning off whole sections fo the GPU. This as a side effect reduces temperatures, not the other way round. You do not need any lower temperatures at idle than you do at load, in fact many cards could possibly go to higher temps due to the lower clocks. Reducing the 2D power consumption is clearly most important in this but then you need to get rid of the fans as much as possible and many modern cards should be able to run idle passively.

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 Post subject: Re: HD 5850/5870 HD 6950/6970 HD 7770 HD 7850 idle noise lev
PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 10:35 am 
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agree. there is no advantage to keeping things cooler at idle than at load. if its run within the design specs, its fine.
its like those silly units that keep the fans in your system running for a min or so after shutdown... pointless.

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 Post subject: Re: HD 5850/5870 HD 6950/6970 HD 7770 HD 7850 idle noise lev
PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 11:00 am 
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this used to be a civilized website for adults to discuss computer hardware...

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Last edited by dhanson865 on Fri Feb 01, 2013 5:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: HD 5850/5870 HD 6950/6970 HD 7770 HD 7850 idle noise lev
PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 11:02 am 
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Would a higher idle temperature result in quicker degradation of the silicon though ?

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 Post subject: Re: HD 5850/5870 HD 6950/6970 HD 7770 HD 7850 idle noise lev
PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 11:07 am 
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Spoon Boy wrote:
Would a higher idle temperature result in quicker degradation of the silicon though ?


Technically: Yes, but then again you may never notice the difference as the card is designed for years of high temp use.

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 Post subject: Re: HD 5850/5870 HD 6950/6970 HD 7770 HD 7850 idle noise lev
PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 12:29 pm 
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dhanson865 wrote:
The easiest way to control noise on a graphics card is to design the heatsink so that a fan at 5v will cool the card at load.

AFAIK no cards use 5V fan headers. Older cards and maybe still some budget models use DC control with a maximum output of 12V but within the BIOS there is still normally control over the fan speed in (fairly arbitary) percentage steps. Some card AIBs do not enable separate 2D/3D speeds on these cards but it is easy to enable this retrospectively. For example I have a 6600GT which came with 100% fan speed ALL of the time. It's fitted with a modified Pentium 2 cooler screwed on with it's small, low speed fan running off the card fan header and set to run at 30% in 2D and 60% in 3D via a BIOS mod. Not enabling separate 2D/3D fan speeds on such a card is just lazy on the part of AIBs but is a very easy route to 2D noise reduction if you are willing to modify the BIOS.

Cards since Geforce 8 use PWM fans but still the duty cycle is varied according to the temperature and certain parameters can be modded in the BIOS.

dhanson865 wrote:
By the laws of physics you then have one of two options either the card is cooler at idle or you turn the fan off at idle.

Or you slow the fan down in the BIOS as any decent card from the last 6 years does and any card made in pretty much the last decade would do with a BIOS mod... oh and I am a Physicist. :wink:

dhanson865 wrote:
Much easier from a reliability/design/control standpoint to just fix the fan at a set speed or voltage and let the temps rise and fall based on use.

I'm sorry but that totally goes against the fan control principles that have been used on high end graphics cards for the last 6 years. They all offer temperature control based on temperature nowadays. We are now at a fortunate point where many cards are quiet enough for many people here, if they ran their fans at 100% all of the time as you suggest, that would not be the case.

By all means take a modern card and flash the BIOS to run at 100% fan duty cycle all of the time if you do not believe me. :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: HD 5850/5870 HD 6950/6970 HD 7770 HD 7850 idle noise lev
PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2013 5:49 am 
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Just to let you all know, I ended up getting the Powercolor HD 6950 (flashed to HD 6970), which has the AMD reference cooler on it.

For now I can say that whilst I would not call it loud at idle, it is not totally silent either.
Even after making a custom fan curve in MSI Afterburner, the fan does not drop below about 1050rpm.
If you have a silent or very quiet pc, you will hear it.

Performance-wise I'm happy with it, so no issues there.
At load the fan can get noisy, but as I mentioned, this is not an issue for me.

It seems the fan could do with a little bit of oil, and if I could somehow get that fan speed down to about 800rpm it would probably be at the low noise level that Im looking for.


Wondering about what 100% fan speed sounds like? (it never gets that high)....
Holy mother of god....!!! LOUD! It is by far the loudest fan I have heard in any pc! :D


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 Post subject: Re: HD 5850/5870 HD 6950/6970 HD 7770 HD 7850 idle noise lev
PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2013 6:05 am 
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Have you thought about investing in a aftermarket HS ?

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 Post subject: Re: HD 5850/5870 HD 6950/6970 HD 7770 HD 7850 idle noise lev
PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2013 3:44 am 
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One day I might consider it, but for now I have spent all the money I intend on spending for the moment.
Or I could put it another way, for that price (more than I was willing to spend) I could have gotten:
a) my current used HD 6950 + aftermarket cooling
b) a brand new HD 7870 - something like this: http://www.supernet.hr/data/products/M0 ... efault.jpg

For now I would like to find a way to drop that fan speed a little bit more. Maybe editing the graphics card's bios will enable such options.
Editing the bios is safe because the card is a HD 6950 with dualbios (one default bios that cannot be overwritten, and another one that you can flash).... so it is impossible for me to brick the card.

If I could drop the minimum speed from about 1050rpm to 800rpm, it would be great. :)


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 Post subject: Re: HD 5850/5870 HD 6950/6970 HD 7770 HD 7850 idle noise lev
PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2013 5:30 am 
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You could try RBE Radeon BIOS editor

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 Post subject: Re: HD 5850/5870 HD 6950/6970 HD 7770 HD 7850 idle noise lev
PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2013 8:03 am 
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I have edited the bios using RBE. I set the "duty cycle min (%)" option to 15% (default was 22%). I set a custom fan curve in MSI afterburner, and it shows that the fan speed is now 15%. *However* the fan speed in RPM is exactly the same, at about 1080rpm. The fan curve in RBE shows that the fan speed should be 15% at all temperatures below 55C, and only then it ramps up, whilst my custom fan curve in MSI afterburner is set to ramp up after it hits 60C.
My idle temps are about 45C.

It seems that no matter what I do I cant get that fan speed down lower than 1080rpm. Maybe the amd catalyst driver is stopping this? Who knows.


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