In clinical computed tomography (CT), images from patient examinations taken with conventional scanners exhibit noise characteristics governed by electronics noise, when scanning strongly attenuating obese patients or with an ultra-low X-ray dose. Unlike CT systems based on energy integrating detectors, a system with a quantum counting detector does not suffer from this drawback. Instead, the noise from the electronics mainly affects the spectral resolution of these detectors. Therefore, it does not contribute to the image noise in spectrally non-resolved CT images. This promises improved image quality due to image noise reduction in scans obtained from clinical CT examinations with lowest X-ray tube currents or obese patients. To quantify the benefits of quantum counting detectors in clinical CT we have carried out an extensive simulation study of the complete scanning and reconstruction process for both kinds of detectors. The simulation chain encompasses modeling of the X-ray source, beam attenuation in the patient, and calculation of the detector response. Moreover, in each case the subsequent image preprocessing and reconstruction is modeled as well. The simulation-based, theoretical evaluation is validated by experiments with a novel prototype quantum counting system and a Siemens Definition Flash scanner with a conventional energy integrating CT detector. We demonstrate and quantify the improvement from image noise reduction achievable with quantum counting techniques in CT examinations with ultra-low X-ray dose and strong attenuation.