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I have a Palit Nvidia GTX-460 PCie card.

Half the time it is a little noisy. A light rattle and a light squeak.

I have taken it out and have made the following observations.

The fan is not hitting anything. 
There is no dust.

I took the sticker label off the place where the fan is and

I see coffee type grounds.

I am not sure if the coffee type grounds are meant to be there.

I am wondering what I can do to reduce the noise.

Here are some pictures. enter image description here

Here is a close up showing the coffee grounds type stuff. enter image description here

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Ack! That looks like rust to me. How old is this card? What kind of history has it had? – David Schwartz May 8 '12 at 2:49
I am so sorry I clicked on that link. Suffice it to say the applications for using coffee grounds as a lubricant do not include fans on graphics cards. – David Schwartz May 8 '12 at 2:54
Try reading the patent application in the first link. – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams May 8 '12 at 2:56
One thing coffee grounds have is a very distinct odor. I mean, they might look like coffee grounds, and they might be coffee grounds, but only @Valamas can get his nose in there and tell us if they are or are not coffee grounds. – Bon Gart May 8 '12 at 3:22
up vote 3 down vote accepted

The fan bearings are shot.
I speculate that the substance your observing there is copper alloys (brass) or copper, oxidised some, and possibly even other metals like the shaft metals or other bearing metals, as it falls apart more inside and grinds and even more stuff flys off.

Some fans are all "sleeve" bearing style, like many car alternators, and water pumps. A sleeve bearing uses a smooth hard shaft and softer sheath that the shaft turns in, the softer metal sheath is usually alloys of coppers (brass). (or just looks coperish because I do not run elemental analisis :-)

A sleeve bearing fan should be lubricated, and some DO have various "permanent" classed, but semipermanent reality lubrication systems, like a felt that might hold oils that move via capillary flow styles. so It is also possible that some of the contents you might observe on a motor with failings this badly would have parts of the lubrications system in it, or even particals of lubrication itself that might use PTFEs or Teflon and other lubrication "enhancer" things.
If via heat (high friction) and vibrations the bearing or sleeve is no longer being held in place, it could be spinning , and grinding stuff out of the mount even, like hard plastics. (I donno, just blabing)

Get out of it.
Try and get dual ball fans whenever possible, after 15+ years of experience with real ball bearing fans, I can confirm they work better, are quieter, and last longer.

Sleeve bearing fans (and other sleeve bearing motors) have a specific limited lifetime, and generally would want to be replaced as soon as they start making noise, lubricating them late or trying to save them is a waste of effort.

There are also "ball bearing" fans that have sleeve bearings in them (1ball) the ball bearing is in the most nesssisary location where pressure is high, and the sleeve is hanging out on the far end of the shaft where there is not as much pressure, just the tail of the shaft so to speak.

There are also labeled Dual ball bearing fans you take apart and it was just fraud. I would also assume that various incorrect substitutions for the soft metals might exist, which could be way cheaper and a total disaster.

It is also entirely possible for a dual ball to lose a few balls :-) to come apart, to cause some of the same noises , to turn into a metal grinding machine, and they are also supposed to be lubricated, and have a specific lifetime also, just much longer and generally were more reliable.

The majority of fans that I have acquired in a product, video cards, cases, towers, Cpu coolers, have used the cheap sleeve bearing fans, I now replace them immediately , without even thinking about it anymore.

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wow, great answer. I am now going to try something like this out. – Valamas May 8 '12 at 4:57
@Valamas inspired by your great pictures. – Psycogeek May 8 '12 at 5:21
thank you. I took many closeups before choosing one which would display well online. i think replacing the fan will give me what i need. 1. Not needing to buy a new video card and 2, a quiet computer. With all this coffee talk; I am now tempted to put a pot on. – Valamas May 8 '12 at 5:52
ahh the sound of silence. Disconnected the fan cable. It is winter down here in Aus. Not playing games or video and hardware monitor is saying 41C. Should have a new fan running in the slot next door this week. – Valamas May 8 '12 at 21:53

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