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My current videocard
Sapphire HD6970 2GB GDDR5 (flashed from 6950)
Cooled by: Arctic Accelero Twin Turbo II
The rest of my setup
Intel Core i5 2500K (@4.5GHz) + Noctua NH-D14
ASRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 + Corsair XMS CMX4GX3M2A1600C9 (2x for a total of 8GB)
Cooler Master HAF 922 + Cooler Master Silent Pro M1000
Some time after my purchase of the Sapphire card I was going insane with the amount of noise it would make. So I did what I had never done before, and installed an aftermarket cooler.
I've never had such a powerful card that was at the same time quiet (0.3 sone max = 23 dBA) and cool (around 60°C and lower) under heavy load / benchmarks.
It turned out to be even better than any of the other comparable videocards with an out of the box aftermarket cooling solution.
I want to upgrade my videocard to something that's more powerful (with a minimum of 3GB GDDR5!), quiet and cool (under heavy load) but that means I will have to part with my precious (you have no idea how much I love this gfx card and cooler combo).
Buy an HD 7970 cheap, and install Arctic Accelero Xtreme 7970. The cooler has a noise level of 0.5 sone (roughly 24 dBA), at 2,000 RPM.
Problem: I could screw it up and have a +/- 300 dud in my hands.
Buy an MSI N680GTX Twin Frozr 4GD5/OC.
Problem: The 2GB version reaches 39,4 dBA under load according to benchmarks I've seen. Still too much for what I would like.
Buy an Asus Matrix HD 7970 Platinum 3 GB GGDR5.
Problem: 36 dBA under load. Kind of loud...
Low risk. Price is...okay...ish.
If I do end up choosing the Platinum I'd still be shelling over 500 for it (places that have it in stock) which makes me reconsider my first option but then I start thinking perhaps I can find a high end videocard that's powerful, quiet and cool without taking too much risk in installing an Arctic cooler...
Could I get your input please? I know some of you are really really good at pointing out the flaws in certain cards.