What is Fan Less PC? Lifespan, Pros & Cons

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What is fan less PC? A fan-less PC, just as the name suggests, is that which does not have fans to keep the CPU cool.

The good thing about it is that it will be comparatively free from contaminants as those will not be drawn inside the system through the fans.

The fan-less computers are, therefore, the best systems to use in harsh environments that experience a lot of debris and airborne particles.

However, not having the fans may keep the computer dust-free and improve the reliability of the hardware in the system but that does not mean it is safe from other contaminants.

If you want to use such a PC for personal use or in your factory, you must make sure that the system is cool. Therefore, it is essentially required that you have an effective cooling system in place.

The fan-less computers provide a lot of benefits as well due to the innovative design and features in it. You can configure the system because this solid-state computer does not have any moving parts in it either.

This improves its reliability and makes it suitable to use in those specific areas that are prone to vibrations and shocks.

The silent nature of these computers also makes them suitable to use in laboratories, digital signage, broadcasting and other similar applications.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Fanless PCs do not have fans and therefore do not drive debris and contaminants into the system. If the cooling aspect is taken care of, these systems are good to use where there are a lot of airborne particles.
  • The design of the fanless computers keeps it cool according to the conduction principle of physics by using heat sinks.
  • The benefits offered by the fanless computers include portability for its smaller size, energy efficiency and reliability, all due to the absence of fans in them.

What is Fan Less PC?

What is Fan Less PC

Though it is rare, and even may sound a bit strange to you, it is true that you may even find a fan-less PC, which is also called a silent PC.

These computers basically rely on the heatsinks installed in it, which, ideally, is not enough to maintain the desired temperature of the CPU.

This means that, you will need to make some compromises while using these fan-less computers so that it performs well and you get what you want.

However, those are the possibilities of the past. Things have been changing rapidly and notably in the world of computers ever since and these silent or mini PCs also have evolved over time.

There are several manufacturers that have come up with better versions of these mini PCs utilizing the components of a laptop in it.

The design of these PCs is primarily Intel-based and costs much less as compared to a standard laptop computer.

You need not worry about its functionality because the 60 GB storage capacity of the system and 4 GB memory will keep it running at its best level.

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However, the specifications of these fan-less PCs may vary from one manufacturer to another and therefore, you are advised to check it out with the manufacturers. When you check the specifications, focus mainly on:

  • The type of processor,
  • Thread model, and
  • The frequency.

Few good models of fan-less PCs may also come with other useful features such as:

  • A couple of Wi-Fi antennas,
  • At least four USB ports,
  • A VESA mount,
  • A VGA and HDMI output, as well as
  • A Gigabit Local Area Network connectivity.

The best part of these fan-less PCs is that it will cause no noise pollution. Another good thing about it is that it does not include any operating system.

This will allow you to choose any particular distribution, Linux or Ubuntu, and not have to stick to the most commonly used Windows 10 operating system.

The casing of these fan-less PCs is typically made from aluminum which itself performs the functions of a heatsink.

Though called mini PCs, these fan-less variants are not only suitable for personal use but are also used extensively across several industries.

These fan-less computers are specially built to meet varied computing needs of different industries.

It will provide lots of advantages as compared to any traditional computer that comes with a robust and effective cooling system.

  • These systems are sturdy enough to function perfectly in demanding, dirty and dusty environments.
  • These solid state mini computers come with SSD storage, latest technology for passive cooling, and no moving parts.

All these features make these computers totally silent and extremely reliable for industrial use.

Since fans are the major pain points of the industrial computers, these fan-less PCs happen to be the best solution to this problem and ensure optimal performance and productivity.

Lifespan of Fan-less PC

Ideally, when it comes to the lifespan of any computer, it entirely depends on the different hardware installed in it and your usage.

The individual lifespan, functionality and issues in the hardware will affect the lifespan of the computer system on the whole.

Moreover, the lifespan of the system may or may not be directly related to the temperature range.

The question is, how high a temperature the computer system can handle until it fails?

The answer to this question is based on the principles of physics.

The failure, or lifespan of the computer ideally depends on the stresses caused on the electronic components in it due to this high temperature.

These stresses are variable depending on the difference in the coefficients of thermal expansion.

When considerably high, these stresses may not result in the complete failure of the system but typically, it will cause a rupture in the solder joints.

Though no one can tell with certainty about the lifespan of a fan-less PC, it can be assumed that too much heat will surely affect it and reduce it.

However, since no one has tested how exactly heat will affect the design, one can only say that high temperature will affect the performance of the system or melt something inside it, and sometimes, both.

You can increase the lifespan of your fan-less PC by following these few simple steps:

  • Keeping it clean
  • Allowing enough breathing space to it
  • Checking the hard drives regularly and resolve any issues before it frays or blows up
  • Keeping the drives defragmented and
  • Protecting your PC from power surges and power loss as well.
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Last but not least, fend off those viruses and malware that may not cause any physical damage to your computer but will surely destroy the system files along with your personal ones. Repairing these files may be a costly affair.

How Does Fan-less PC Stay Cool?

Ideally, a fan-less computer maintains a cool temperature inside following the conduction principle of physics.

This means dissipating the heat through physical touch. This, ideally, is a natural phenomenon but the amount of heat exchanged will depend entirely on the design of the computer.

The design of the fan-less computers uses heat sinks that capture the heat from those heat-generating parts inside the CPU.

The heat flows through these heat sinks and is released into the air surrounding the system.

The amount of heat dissipated will, however, depend on the material used to build the heat sink.

Mostly, aluminum and copper materials are used in the heat sink assembly as these materials are very good conductors of heat.

While designing the heat sink assembly, the manufacturers also consider how exactly all the parts inside the unit will interact with each other.

The heat sink design will consist of two major parts such as:

  • The aluminum or copper block mounted on the CPU and
  • The lid of the case.

Heat generated by the elements inside the CPU is transmitted to the aluminum block on top of it.

From there it passes to the case lid and eventually released to the surrounding air.

A different approach is followed to dissipate the heat generated on the outside of the fan-less computer to the surrounding air.

The case lid is usually designed with specially built ridges.

These ridges actually increase the total surface area of the lid exposed to the air.

According to physics, an object with more surface area will allow more heat to escape through the enhanced passageway.

Moreover, the amount of heat paste used inside the computer to fill the gaps is kept to the minimum as well.

This is because this paste is poor conductor of heat as compared to aluminum and copper material.

Excessive use of this paste will, therefore, create a thermal barrier which will, in turn, overheat the system.

As for you, you can keep your fan-less PC cool by ensuring that you do not place anything on top of the lid.

Also ensure that the surrounding air is able to circulate freely.

Therefore, do not use the system in a confined space or at higher elevations where the air is too thin to carry the heat away from the fan-less computer.

The Pros

1. No noise pollution

The silent operation of the fan-less computers is the most significant benefit.

This will create no noise pollution and will also ensure a better experience and pleasure, especially when you are using your Home Theater PC.

2. No dust or dirt

Since there are no fans, no dust or debris will be blown inside the computer that may accumulate and cause different internal components of the CPU to fail over time.

Since there will be no inflow of debris, there will be no harm to your computer.

3. No mechanical failure

Since these fan-less computers have no moving parts inside it, there is no chance of any mechanical failure due to shock or vibration.

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This means that you will need to spend very little on its maintenance.

4. Flexibility in location

You can place a fan-less computer in places where you cannot install a computer with fans. You can even use it outdoors as these computers can handle exposure to natural elements.

5. Small in size

Having no fans, the design of these computers is compact. This small size allows you to use them in short and compact spaces. In offices, you can even fit it under your table or desk.

6. Energy efficient

These fan-less computers will use less power as there are no fans in it. This will result in reduced energy bills and significant savings every month.

7. Reliability

A few of these fan-less computers come with a sealed chassis. This makes them all the more durable and reliable to use in places where shock and vibrations are common.

The Cons

8. Heat generation

Since there are no fans to keep the internal components of the CPU cool, a lot of heat will be generated inside the fan-less computer system.

Without an effective cooling system in place and proper usage and placement, a fan-less computer may find it difficult in performing the desired tasks easily when used for a long time.

9. Chances of failure

The chances of a fan-less computer failing are high as compared to a traditional fanned computer.

Therefore, you will need to use it in a place where there is proper ventilation and better circulation dynamics to ensure faster, better and higher dissipation of heat from the system by the freely circulating air in the room.

FAQs:

Do all computers have a fan?

Yes, all proper computers will have a fan, actually three fans, inside it. One fan will be in the CPU, one in the GPU and one in the tower behind the power supply.

However, smartphones, washers, microwaves, cars and others that are not considered as a fully functioning computer will not have a fan but will have air vents to dissipate the heat generated by the CPU within.

Can a PC work without a fan?

Yes, it can but there will be a lot of heat generated inside if you remove the fan. However, if you use a proper external cooling system, your computer may work perfectly.

Are fan-less laptops good?

Yes, these are good to use in places where you cannot use a fanned computer or it is prone to shocks, vibrations and dust.

How do you cool down a fan-less laptop?

Use the computer in place that allows it to breathe. Also keep it clean and make sure that the room has proper ventilation and air circulation.

Most importantly, do not put anything on top of the case lid to prevent the heat from being dissipated.

Final Words

A fan-less computer is good for those users who prefer little maintenance and work in areas where there is lot of dust and exposure to elements. These are efficient, small and sturdy to last for a long time.

About Dominic Cooper

Dominic CooperDominic Cooper, a TTU graduate is a computer hardware expert. His only passion is to find out the nitty gritty of all computers. He loves to cook when he is not busy with writing, computer testing and research. He is not very fond of social media. Follow Him at Linkedin