I have at home two Asus 970 STRIX and a MSI 970 Gaming.
I did not open the MSI one yet, but I can confirm the STRIXes both have loud buzzing, when gaming (like Tomb Raider) or in benchmarks (3DMark11 causes exactly the same type of noises like Tomb Raider), and this with framerate capped at 60Hz using Adaptive Vsync. The cards are almost dead silent at idle. It's only when gaming some of the new games that they start buzzing. They're not fully free of electronic noise at idle though, it's not "audio equipment" level of no electronic noise, but it's really really faint and you cant hear them from some distance.
The STRIXes are from different lots, and the newer card is worse. First, the buzzing is louder, but also the fans are louder too. I might be wrong, but it's as if Asus has changed the make of the fans on the later production batches; the fans are much louder when spinning, and I can clearly hear them from across the room, while the fans on the older card could barely be heard even at load. The fans on the new card also make clicking noises when spinning them manually, and that clicking can sometimes be heard during normal operation too. And another thing that jumped into my eyes, was that the power plug from the fans was clearly visible behind the second fan, and was white! I did not notice this at all on the older card, and went back to verify... not only was the plug hidden in between the fans, but it was black, just like the shroud of the STRIX.
Either the loudness of the fans Asus is using can vary a lot, or they changed the type of fans they use with louder ones; who knows, perhaps supply issues? There are other issues with the newer card. The buzzing is much louder than on the old one. The shroud is not firmly set in place, you can move it up and down easily; I noticed this when plugging the power connector in and out. I guess given the huge demand, they can afford to ship cards even like this, and still make a killing selling them.
My own experience is that people which report these cards to be silent are in one of these following situations:
- have mechanical hard-disks
- have case fans, and not the type with less than 10dBA rating; you'll be surprised how many people have lots of fans and then they say these cards are silent...
- high environmental noise floor: either AC unit, or permanent road street noise, or they just live in one of those places with a high level of noise all the time; you know - the city that never sleeps type
They don't intend to mislead others, but silence is just not possible in those conditions, and they are not really aware of it when they make those claims.
The buzzing (I'm not going to call it coil whine because it's not of the squealing variety) is loud, but you'd certainly mistake it for the noise coming in from a mechanical hard-disk, or would get overwhelmed by the usual kind of fans people use for their cases. You're not going to see many people using 500-700 rpm fans which the manufacturer rates at 7-8dBA (even if they are noisier); more likely they're going to be ones with at least 14dBA or much worse.
I've long stopped placing trust in people on the internet claiming they have "silent" builds. Got burned too many times. Even here on SPCR; all those reviews for "silent" mechanical hard-disks... well, I've never encountered a mechanical hard-disk that is silent. I could never stand any WD Reds, Seagate NAS, or laptop disks.
Take care with the MSI. It's known to have two issues, one is certain, and one if you're unlucky:
1. the fans start and stop every minute at idle, even if the card temp is low, around 30 degrees; happens with the last three nvidia drivers; lots of posts on the MSI forums
, and even nvidia
is looking at it; looks like all MSI boards have broken BIOS settings; some users are editing them manually to get rid of this issue;
2. sometimes, one of the fan remains stuck at 100% rpm, while the other does nothing; no cure for this, I'm afraid; see here
These are the reasons I have not unsealed my MSI card yet.
I should make a post about my (sorrowful) attempt to build a semi-passive system, using top-end parts. Disaster on all fronts, sigh... lots of disappointment with the current state of PC parts.