With the TES 1326 Infrared Thermometer literally in hand we found ourselves getting real-world temperatures from the products we test at load (3D clock speeds).
There are two places we pull temperature from - the back of the card directly behind the core, and if the card is dual-slot and has an exhaust point we also pull a temperature from there (as seen in the picture).
Considering the choice of the aftermarket cooler MSI have chosen you would think that it would manage to keep the 8600GTS quite cool, but it's the hottest card here today and you can feel that it was generating more heat off the PCB compared to its competition.
Pulling out the TES 1350A Sound Level Meter we find ourselves quickly yelling into the top of it to see how loud we can be.
After five minutes of that we get a bit more serious and place the device two CM away from the fan on the card to find the maximum noise level of the card when idle (2D mode) and in load (3D mode).
The noise level was extremely easy to pick up just with the ear. You could tell that it was the loudest card out of the bunch before you even put the sound meter to it. Regardless, we stuck to our guns and used the sound meter which simply confirmed our suspicion.