I am in week two of owning the 8950 (i7 12700, 16gb, 3060ti). I love it - great machine, IMO. The stock cooler for the i7 is not up-to-snuff, however. So, with the help of the friendly gurus on this forum, I learned a bunch about replacement options, how effective they are and whether or not there are compatibility issues.
Not wanting to deal with BIOS errors, now or in the future, I went for the premium OEM air cooler for the "K" version of my processor. I did not start with this selection during my learning process, as Noctua, BeQuiet, and so many cooler options looked more interesting. There's not much said about the premium cooler online, but there are some good resources that indicated that it can hold its own against popular 3rd party coolers. For me, it was the promise of 100% plug/play compatibility guaranteed over the long term, and the reported good/solid performance.
I am not one to spend too much time benchmarking hardware, but I wanted to do a casual before/after compare of the stock vs the premium cooler. One benchmark was the PassMark test - specifically the CPU portion of the test. The stock cooler skyrocketed to 100C before it throttled, and it sounded like someone turned on a Hoover in there. Once all fans were in total panic mode (quite loud) the running temp settled down to around 85C. The coolest temp from the stock cooler was 42C during low utilization.
With the premium cooler, the same test did not allow the processor to exceed 72C, with a running temp of about 60C. Temps during low utilization dropped to 28C.
Pretty amazing, IMO, and I am very happy with this purchase. I did remove the thermal paste (I know I didn't have to) and I carefully applied Thermal Grizzly paste. Not sure if that contributed to these numbers or not.
So, just wanted to give the often-overlooked OEM premium cooler a shout-out. The only slight downside is that at idle I can hear a couple more db's of fan noise. But, I figured that might be the case given the fact that the stock fan was tiny.
Good question! In my brief listening "test", I did put my ear next to my 3060ti with each disconnect of a fan. I could hear a consistent sound from the GPU, but it was not egregious to my ear, as it just sounded like moving air - and very slight at that.
I know the OEM cooler, while being quite a good performer, no doubt has some kind of funky Dell-compatible fan between those heatsinks, so it may be somewhat questionable and inconsistent. But, if smokeygraypoup (great name!) says that his cooler is totally quiet, I might try a swap with another one. I fully realize this is all a crapshoot, 'cause you never know what you are gonna get, and besides, all of this is totally subjective and dependent on one's hearing skills/capabilities.
My 3060Ti can be heard when the fans come on and the noise fluctuates with the fan speed. It is only audible when the room is silent though. It isn't nearly as loud as the stock AIO pump.
Interesting. I avoided the AIO cooler based on reports like yours, and my thinking at the time was that I would be getting a top-shelf 3rd-party cooler like a Noctua or BeQuiet. I came to value the compatibility, both software and hardware of the OEM cooler, so I went with that instead. If I am gaming (a new interest!) I can hear the GPU fans kick-in, but again, it's more like a whoosh vs a mechanical sound. I just don't mind that.
I hear my cooler now as I type this. It's mechanical and it's like a sine wave with a 10 second peak-to-peak. It's there 100% of the time. May just get another one and swap it.
I removed the side panel and I did hear a constant soft "whirring" sound. I blocked the rear fan with a sheet of paper. and continued to hear the "whirring" sound. It is just a fan spinning. If you are hearing anything else, it may be a fan issue. I am by no means an expert. If possible, return the cpu cooler for an exchange and see what happens. As mentioned previously, always thoroughly clean and repaste the cpu with fresh paste.