Someone did a pseudoscience test of noise levels of various consoles. The problem is, they have several tiny biases in the results.

Here’s the guide (Link Dead)

I found it through engadget, but I doubt most of the people who read the engadget story went in to look at the pictures and realize the biases present in the way it was measured.

First one… Look at the laptop cooler that the Xbox360 is sitting on. Hmmm. So the xbox360 is getting an advantage. It might be keeping it from getting hot enough to really kick its fans on.

The next problem, look at where the sound meter is sitting when he’s measuring the sound. It’s right on the side where there is both an air intake (Top part) and an air output (very bottom) for the fan. It’s actually the noisiest location on the console, It’s the equivalent of putting the sound sensor right by the power supply in a PC. 

I believe that both the 360 and Wii have their fans on the back of the consoles, while the PS3 has it dead center in the console with a heatsink design that ducts air from and to the appropriate places pushed by the fan. 

The Wii sensor placement doesn’t seem to have any horrific errors like the PS3, but isn’t optimal if you really want to see how much effective noise the console puts out. I’m pretty sure the Wii would do better with respect to the Xbox360 if you moved the sensor out and ditched the laptop cooler as well.

The best place to put the sensor would be a couple feet in front of each console. This is where the person playing it would likely be if they want to see how much noise its putting out, and would be the closest most people would put their ears during normal operation. In this placement, I’m sure the PS3 would score quieter than the xbox360. Its fan design is just better in general. The PS3 is so silent at all times in my room that it actually inspired me to start replacing the rest of my computer cases with quieter systems. My server Ruri now has an Antec Sonata II case, and is nearly as quiet as the PS3. Right now, the loudest thing in my room is my old Aria case on my windows system, but even when it’s turned off, the sound on my TV at 0, and playing hours of games on the PS3, I can’t hear the PS3 at all.