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Ask Max: Would fan noise from an upgraded video card be annoying?

Asked on 05/09/2007:

I am looking at purchasing a Mac Pro soon and wanted to know if the ATI Radeon X1900 XT 512MB (2 x dual-link DVIeon X1900 XT 512MB makes much noise. I don't want to purchase a particular video card and be disappointed. I know that it performs great for gaming and 3D but I don't want noise that will drive me crazy either. I would appreciate any comments. I figured that you all have sold some Mac Pro's with this particular video card.


Any time a graphics card has a fan and is two expansion slots wide, you should expect some extra noise. The good news is that the difference between the 7300 GT fan noise and the X1900 XT fan noise is not substantial. Also as a whole, the Mac Pro is quieter than many of the previous Power Mac towers. So depending on what computer you are coming from, the Mac Pro with a X1900 card could be quieter.

Over the years dealing with people and their computers, I have found that noise is the most subjective computer quality. I remember one fellow who demanded we change out his Superdrive because the tray made too much noise when ejecting. We tested it, and everyone who could get away from his or her desk had a listen. Everyone agreed that the drive sounded normal and it worked perfectly. Our customer again insisted that the noise was loud enough that it caused him embarrassment at work. Wanting to help as best we could, we replaced the drive with another new Superdrive. He came back days later wanting his old drive back because the new one was worse. I could not have told you the difference between the two drives eject volume to save my life. I have no doubt that this person was being truthful; he heard what at least a dozen people couldn't. For that person, the X1900 would not be a good choice.

From my ears the X1900 has a good fan that produces little extra noise. My best advice is to get the equipment that you need in order to do what you want. Then arrange your workspace to meet your visual and acoustic preference.

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