Much has been made of the improvement in the quality of the fans/cooler on the GTX 780 and Titan.
Can anyone comment on whether they're up to SPCR standards (for idling at least)?
Nothing by SPCR standards and i have not received mine yet, so take my comments with a grain of salt.
While the stock cooler seems decent and has good comments in most reviews, personally i have had bad experience with those round slot fans, over time they start developing a grinding sound.... so for me its not an option. So titans for me are out, unless you are into fitting an aftermarket cooler, like Prolimatch MK-26 or Artic Cooling Accelero III.
Speaking of custom, i had a very small window for ordering, and none of the custom coolers were coming, aside from EVGA ACX, so ended ordering GALAXY GTX780, since all had stock nvidia coolers, i had good experience with my Galaxy GTX580 in terms of noise and performance, it comes with a Acelero III from factory and backplate and fronplate from them, overall i never notice it, at idle its very low nosie (30% fan speed) and even gaming i never ever could hear anything over my ambient noise, so i decided to go that route again, bought the galaxy gtx780 + acelero III, will be installing it probably next weekend, im expecting similar results as my gtx580 since they are very similar in consumption...
With that said, now the custom coolers are starting to appear in retail. I had very high hopes with ASUS and their directCUII coolers, seeing how the past reviews on SPCR got editors choiceo on the GTX680/670 DCUII. Now on the GTX780 they did a totally new DCUII cooler, sadly the default settings seems more oriented for performance than noise, it seems one of the coolest running cards of all that i have read, but at the expense of noise, im guessing this can be tweaked with ASUS GPUTWEAK (similar as Rivatunner/ MSI Afterbuner / EVGA Precision but develop by asus from the ground up). in case you are interested check GURU3D ASUS GeForce GTX 780 DirectCU II OC review
, that has comments like the following,
Cooling & Noise Levels
The NVIDIA reference coolers are great, but they follow the temperature target of 80 degrees C. With the DirectCU II, CoolTech Fan technology the GPU will get 425W of cooling power thrown at it. As a result the temperature target might remain 80 degrees C, but we have never seen the card pass 66 Degrees. An added benefit of that is that the dynamic clock frequency will go higher up to the point it reached its power target. So this is why the card is so close and sometimes a small notch faster then the GTX Titan. Noise wise I (and I am truly nitpicking here) I expected total silence. Fact remains that you can hear a bit of airflow when the GPU is under stress. Now it's close to nothing, but after reading all the marketing gobble on CoolTech Fan technology I expected the cooler perform bar nothing or at least get Parrot AR drone functionality. But it remains a cooling solution that can be compared to the competition in terms of performance. Overall though, the cooling solution is really good, no mistake there.
MSI has gotten very good reviews on their current N7XX series cards, specially on the GTX760 the MSI seems to be one of the quietest, with that said, and from the same people that reviewed the Asus GTX780 DCUII, the review of the MSI, GURU3D MSI GeForce GTX 780 Gaming review
Cooling & Noise Levels
The NVIDIA reference coolers are doing their job well, but they follow the temperature target of 80 degrees C. With the TwinFrozr cooling technology the GPU will get 450W of cooling power thrown at it. As a result the temperature target might remain 80 degrees C, but we have never seen the card pass 60 Degrees. Now if the temperature is that low there is an extra benefit... the power and temp limiters do not kick in, allowing the product to boost a little higher then usual. So this is why the card is so close towards the GeForce GTX Titan. Noise wise I am very happy as well. In its default configuration you can not hear airflow when the GPU is under stress installed in a PC. It really is that silent, very impressive.
So even though this is not coming from SPCR standards, i would go with MSI over the ASUS, seems like MSI did decently balancing the fan profiles and their cooling. And has good user reviews in newegg, MSI Gaming N780 TF 3GD5/OC GeForce GTX 780 3GB 384-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 SLI Support Video Card
The only other option i would consider beside the MSI is Giagabyte with their Windforce, but havent read much either. One thing that still tickles me, i wanted to test the Prolimatech MK-26 cooler, it has gotten so low temps on GTX680, that seem very well to test here, but its very expensive, around $70 without fans, the Vortex 14 slim from polimatech seems like the ideal fans for this cooler, PWM and can be dropped to 500rpm (according prolimatch web), that could end up the quietest and coolest running GTX780/Titan, but its a huge cooler with very high weight.... at the end i decided against as my TJ08-E might not fit that cooler and i would have to hard mod my HR02 (the mounting bracket screws stick out), so ended up with Acelero III, but if i was to build on ATX with let say an Fractal Design Define R4 (can fit 170mm cooler), and with a mobo that had the PCIe slot on the 2nd position (like Asus Maximus IV Hero or MSI Z87-G45 gaming), i would have given a a shot to prolimatch MK26.