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Fanless desktop options

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VirtualLarry

No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
50,419
6,025
126
Would those be able to handle his workload? If he can't do his job, then the system is pointless.
No, they wouldn't. That was kind of the point of me pointing out the other thread.

What he wants ("fanless") still hasn't evolved to the point of being viable for real desktop workloads. Even the NUCs have a fan! (In fact, so do even the Intel-branded Compute Sticks.)

Edit: I played with fanless mini-PCs for a while. They just didn't have the gusto I needed for my workloads. But I wanted a smaller PC. This is what I've settled on currently:
http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=2456075
 
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dark zero

Platinum Member
Jun 2, 2015
2,543
100
106
There's fanless, and then there's effectively silent. I'd personally opt for a very efficient power supply with a high quality fan that doesn't start before X load, a motherboard with a lot of fan control options (such as the ability to have the fans only start up once components reach a certain temperature), a large tower heatsink, and a bunch of high quality fans (e.g. Noctua). It'll cost you, but it's possible to have a lot of performance on-tap with zero noise at idle and near-zero under full load.

You might consider going with an unlocked CPU and playing with voltage and clocks.
But... a power supply nornally uses fan.. or there are models without it?

Also the fanless is getting old. The new trend might be Heatsinkless. Even slimmer than having a heatsink
 

Azuma Hazuki

Golden Member
Jun 18, 2012
1,532
866
131
For what this is worth I just built a friend a computer in a Silverstone PT13B case with their AR04 cooler. It's cooling an i3-4130 CPU (54W TDP) and it's damn near silent. You have yo be listening for the thing to know it's on.

This particular case is about 7.5" x 7.5" x 1.5" and has a VESA plate should you want to mount it. It's powered by a standard 90W laptop charger, the old Dell/HP kind, and takes thin Mini ITX boards (this one has an Asus H81T/CSM).

Other than the front USB ports not working for some reason, this thing is probably the best build this size I've ever done. It's quiet enough that I'd consider it silent for your purposes.
 

MrTeal

Diamond Member
Dec 7, 2003
3,057
705
136
But... a power supply nornally uses fan.. or there are models without it?

Also the fanless is getting old. The new trend might be Heatsinkless. Even slimmer than having a heatsink
There are models without it, and models that turn off the fan at low loads. For example, depending on temperatures the 650W EVGA unit I linked will run with the fan off until you're pulling more than a few hundred watts, which effectively means that for a non-gaming rig it will never turn on.
 

cbn

Lifer
Mar 27, 2009
12,968
221
106
My budget would be about 1000$, but that's for the entire system(case, board, RAM, HDD/SSD and a new LCD screen). Unfortunately from where I'm from (Croatia, EU), hardware prices are not that "low" as in the US(also, dollar is getting stronger), so I'm not sure if Intel NUCs are within the budget(to tell you the truth, I'm not even sure if they're available here, I'll have to look)
Fanless works with higher TDP processors also.

For example, here is one such build using a No-Fan cooler and coolermaster Elite 110:

http://www.fanlesstech.com/2015/09/the-most-compact-nofan-build.html

(With that mentioned, any case that has vents above will work. These vents are needed for convention)
 

DrMrLordX

Lifer
Apr 27, 2000
16,878
5,841
136
Hey, I don't know if OP has looked at this option, but . . .

http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?293936-Thermalright-Le-Grand-Macho

That probably wasn't what you were thinking of when you thought "fanless", but there you have it. Btw the review belabours the point that chassis airflow is important, but if the thermal load is small enough, coolers such as this will still perform quite well from convection compared to the usual fanless cooling solutions.
 
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mysticjbyrd

Golden Member
Oct 6, 2015
1,363
3
0

FanlessTech

Member
Oct 25, 2015
33
19
51
Those temperatures are real, do not underestimate the power of the CR-95C ;)

I wouldn't recommend this particular rig since such a large cooler in such a small case can be tricky to install. But the CR-95C in a larger case with some mesh on top for convection will cool most CPUs under 95W TDP.

Using iGPUs (no graphics card sorry) a totally fanless desktop can be achieved pretty easily this way.
 

FanlessTech

Member
Oct 25, 2015
33
19
51
For a low-power PC though, many fanless barebones are available now. Check Shuttle DS437T / DS57U / XS35V5, Zotac C Series, Compulab Fitlet etc...
 

Argosy

Junior Member
Nov 13, 2013
5
0
0

cbn

Lifer
Mar 27, 2009
12,968
221
106
A smaller alternative to the CR-95C is the CR-80EH:

Dimensions of CR-95C: 180mm (Diameter) x 148mm (Height)

Dimensions of CR-80EH: 155mm (Diameter) x 113mm (Height)
 

Magic Carpet

Diamond Member
Oct 2, 2011
3,265
75
91
Those temperatures are real, do not underestimate the power of the CR-95C ;)
Yeah, it's a good design for passive cooling. One of the best, there is on the market right now. Still, I'd go semi-passive, if possible. Better component longevity and good insurance in the summer against the hot weather.
 

LurchFrinky

Senior member
Nov 12, 2003
289
51
91
I have a fanless PC running right now, and yeah, an oversized heatsink with a good path for convective airflow will get you surprisingly far.
Mine is an old Athlon 5050e (45W) relegated to NAS duty, so it isn't really suitable for the OP.
If you can keep your overall wattage down (100W or so), then you could use a picopsu and external DC brick. This keeps the psu waste heat out of your case.

I wanted fanless so that I wouldn't have to worry about dust fouling everything. The point was to set it up and forget it, and it has been working beautifully. The green HDDs have the only moving parts in the box, but I would still say it is quieter than the majority of "silent" PCs out there.
 

FanlessTech

Member
Oct 25, 2015
33
19
51
A smaller alternative to the CR-95C is the CR-80EH:

Dimensions of CR-95C: 180mm (Diameter) x 148mm (Height)

Dimensions of CR-80EH: 155mm (Diameter) x 113mm (Height)
The CR-80EH is from the same company but a whole different design, and not a great one. I wouldn't use it for anything more than 35W TDP ;)
 

fleshconsumed

Diamond Member
Feb 21, 2002
6,010
1,353
136
I've been building quiet/near silent computers for a very very long time. Generally speaking going completely fanless is impractical and unnecessary. Even if your CPU stays under its rated limit, the rest of the components such as South Bridge and RAM will get quite hot because they expect to have some airflow to help keep the temperature down. I've had DDR2 ram error out on me because it got too hot. Heat kills electronics, especially in the summer and doubly so if you have hot summers and no air conditioning.

A much more practical approach is to use quality components with several very low RPM fans. I have very acute hearing and my personal threshold is about 700RPMs. Any fan at or below 700RPMs is almost inaudible when tucked inside the case under the desk - I'd only be able to hear that in a really quiet room and only if I specifically listened for it. 500RPMs is essentially inaudible for me. I built my GF i7-4770K computer that has four fans all running at or under 500RPMs and her computer is essentially silent, her monitor is way louder than the actual PC because of the backlight buzz.

My recommendations would be to:
1. Buy quality built silence oriented case
2. Fanless power supply, this is important because all fans become noisy after a while and power supply fans are often of lower quality and they're also impossible to change without voiding the warranty
3. Quality CPU heatsink, my favorite has always been Scythe Ninja, it has been the best performing heatink for low airflow application since it originally came out, the latest version is 4 and according to silentpcreview review it provides excellent cooling with minimum airflow and is still very inexpensive as far as heatsinks go.
4. Quality fans, my favorites lately have been 500-800rpms Scythe Gentle Typhoons (AP-11 is 500RPM and AP-12 is 800RPM), and Scythe S-Flex fans with Sony S-FDB bearings (SFF21D runs at 800RPM). To date I have not found a fan that is better than these, the only problem is that both of these fan types are discountinued, so you might have to buy something else in the 500-800RPM range. If you get the 800RPM models you can undervolt them to run slower. Noctua fans are generally also good if you can find version in the 500-800rpm range.
5. Get SSD if you can avoid getting mechanical hard drive.
6. Use onboard graphics if you can, since you said you'll be using the PC for multimedia/coding I doubt you'll need PCIe videocard unless you're coding for CUDA or something.

If you follow the above guidelines, you can build computer that is essentially silent and you won't have to sacrifice any performance.
 
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cbn

Lifer
Mar 27, 2009
12,968
221
106
2. Fanless power supply, this is important because all fans become noisy after a while and power supply fans are often of lower quality and they're also impossible to change without voiding the warranty
Which one do you recommend?
 

cbn

Lifer
Mar 27, 2009
12,968
221
106
The CR-80EH is from the same company but a whole different design, and not a great one. I wouldn't use it for anything more than 35W TDP ;)
Any recommendations for an affordable passive cooler able to handle 65W?
 

Markfw

CPU Moderator, VC&G Moderator, Elite Member
Super Moderator
May 16, 2002
21,128
9,258
136
Well, here's a sample US$1000 build that would fit in your budget.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: Intel Core i5-6600 3.3GHz Quad-Core Processor ($209.99 @ SuperBiiz)
CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D15 82.5 CFM CPU Cooler ($89.96 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: ASRock Z170M Pro4S Micro ATX LGA1151 Motherboard ($89.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Memory: Avexir Core Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-2400 Memory ($69.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Crucial BX200 480GB 2.5" Solid State Drive ($119.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Case: Fractal Design Define R5 (Black) ATX Mid Tower Case ($89.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: EVGA 650W 80+ Gold Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply ($78.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Monitor: Dell E2414HM 60Hz 24.0" Monitor ($99.99 @ Newegg)
Monitor: Dell E2414HM 60Hz 24.0" Monitor ($99.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $948.88
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2016-01-07 12:59 EST-0500
First, note that even though the HSF has fans, it should be good enough to not need them, maybe not even install them (do a test) The PSU may have a fan, but it only comes on under load (I think, if its like Corsair), so don't worry about that.

I like this build, and it does have some power.
 

MrTeal

Diamond Member
Dec 7, 2003
3,057
705
136
First, note that even though the HSF has fans, it should be good enough to not need them, maybe not even install them (do a test) The PSU may have a fan, but it only comes on under load (I think, if its like Corsair), so don't worry about that.

I like this build, and it does have some power.
I had a NH-D14 on my i5-2500k for quite awhile, and unless I was actually pushing the system the fans would be full off. I had case airflow though. Depending on how silent you want, you could always run the case with no fans and duct an input to the CPU cooler to rely on Noctua's (excellent) 140mm fan. Alternately, keep the Fractal case fans are pretty good, use a voltage controlled fan header to run them both at 500rpm and you'd probably need to get your ear close enough to suffer damage before you heard them.


The PSU I selected has a hybrid mode that won't turn on unless you're pulling a couple hundred watts from it. Really unless he adds a GPU, he could probably run P95 on the CPU all day and the PSU fan wouldn't turn on.
 

Vellinious

Junior Member
Nov 30, 2015
8
0
6
Do you have a budget in mind? There are always water cooling options as well, that can be set up fanless. I have an X99 rig with 2 x 970s that I can run without the rad fans when at stock clocks, and still keep the delta t temps at less than 10c. Just gotta have enough radiator.....
 

Headfoot

Diamond Member
Feb 28, 2008
4,444
636
126
Fanless seems like a wasteful and counderproductive constraint when you can have a silent PC (just as silent as fanless due to the lower limits of human hearing) using quiet, low RPM fans. Even beyond that, remember sound pressure levels obeys the inverse square law. Even if you have a little fan noise, move it farther away and have longer cables and you can take advantage of the this law and get the sound pressure level at the place where you are using the PC to be below audible ranges. http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/inverse-square-law-d_890.html
 
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kensiko30

Member
Feb 27, 2011
73
8
71
Hey guys I'm reviving this thread, hope it's ok.

I'll looking to upgrade my HP laptop on A8-4500M for a fanless PC. The reason for fanless is because I don't have much space where it is. The laptop is installed vertically, supported by its screen, and two monitors are attached to it.

I know how to build a silent PC and I know that means having huge fans, for which I won't have the space to put them with the tight space.

I want something that's better than my CPU and its IGP mainly for work, I won't play games on it.

The laptop I'm currently using was not meant to be used like that, it got a touchscreen which is useless right now.

I would be more interested in a Ryzen than an Intel with its inefficient IGP.

What do you think? Should I go for it?
 

Glo.

Diamond Member
Apr 25, 2015
4,699
3,316
136
Hey guys I'm reviving this thread, hope it's ok.

I'll looking to upgrade my HP laptop on A8-4500M for a fanless PC. The reason for fanless is because I don't have much space where it is. The laptop is installed vertically, supported by its screen, and two monitors are attached to it.

I know how to build a silent PC and I know that means having huge fans, for which I won't have the space to put them with the tight space.

I want something that's better than my CPU and its IGP mainly for work, I won't play games on it.

The laptop I'm currently using was not meant to be used like that, it got a touchscreen which is useless right now.

I would be more interested in a Ryzen than an Intel with its inefficient IGP.

What do you think? Should I go for it?
How much space do you have?

There is a lot of solutions: if you want mITX - Streacom DB4 case, and you can do whatever you want with it, Lately there has been announced MonsterLabo The First fanless case, which is very interesting, because it is pretty good design that appears to be able to handle pretty hot chips, with high TDP(GTX 1080, i7 8700K).

Or if you have big enough space - ThermalTake Core P3, and you can buy fanless cooler for CPU, fanless GPU and fanless PSU.

Arctic also recently released two passive coolers: Alpine 12 Passive and Alpine AM4 Passive. Worth looking at them.
 
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