For my media-PC I purchased a silent video card. Gigabyte makes the SilentPipe series for several of the Nvidia models and it seemed like a good idea to be able to get a card with decent graphical power (not top, but at the time it was better than any of the other cards I had) and no noise.
The catch is that when building a Media PC you need to keep in mind the overall system. The SilentPipe GF8600GTS has two problems- first of all its form factor is kind of big- the cooling fins stick about a half inch over the normal height of a PCI-express card. In a full sized case this would be fine but in the Zalman media-case I have there is only the exact room for full height cards and the extra half inch means the top of the case doesn’t really fit right.
The second issue is heat. The card runs correctly, but overall it does run pretty hot and since its not blowing the hot air outside the case itself it places extra heat load on the rest of the system + relies on the existing case fans to create air moment through its fins and out its vent. I suspect this results in my overall case fans running higher more of the time, so in the end I fear that I’m actually running a more noisy system for trying to use a silent video card. Instead of adding one relatively slow running video card fan I’m pushing the main fans faster and higher RPMs create a lot more noise.