PC without FANs


I'm interested in building a PC without any fans. The reason is that I want to use it for a server in my bedroom :) The pc is going to run Windows 2003 Enterprise Server with Windows Media Services for development and testing purposes. The PC will be a low cost configuration meaning that the CPU should be around 1GHz.

Now the real question is it safe to remove/stop the power supply fan and the CPU fan? I'll definitely use a big copper heat sink for the CPU...

Also what CPU should I use? Can I use a "down clocked" AMD CPU? What CPU would you recommend as the coolest one around the 1 GHz range? One that can survive in a hot summer without fans?

Any additional links to info about building a fan-less PC and/or down-clocking CPUs or similar information would be appreciated.

Thanks a lot,

I'm new here so please excuse me if I've mistakenly posted this message in the wrong forum.

Deyan Atanasov
MVP Windows Technologies - Digital Media
16 answers Last reply
More about fans
  1. I resonally would not run a psu with its fans. I would not sacrifice stability and reliability for noise reduction, especially if the noise to begin with is non-offending. You're best bet might be to 1) get a psu with fan-monitoring capabilities, or 2) replace the stock psu fan(s) with quieter ones.

    Also, I would not run a 1ghz cpu without a fan either. I'd even stick a low rpm fan on a Via c3 @ 1ghz. If you want quiet and effective cooling, consider picking up a zalman fan bracket and installing a 92mm or 120mm fan to cool your heatsink. Connect the fan to a rheostat and turn down the power at night.

    Call me Caine.
  2. The only way you are going to be able to use a passive heatsink on a CPU is if you get a Via C3 at 1Ghz, but keep in mind, they have god awful performance, around the speed of a 500Mhz Celeron processor. I would suggest at the bare minimum, an amd duron 1Ghz (morgan core) with a thermalright Ax7, as well as an 80mm fan with a rheostat, so you can lower the rpms to about 1000-1500 rpms for almost no noise. Even at 2500 rpms, an 80mm fan is almost inaudible when you compare the other computer parts. Just about any CPU is going to eventually melt if you just use a passive heatsink, and without even the smallest of fans, it's going to raise to dangerously high levels, no matter how efficient or big the heatsink is.

    You can use a dual fan power supply as your exhaust for the case, and negate using any exhaust fans that way. you probably want at least 1 intake fan, althought you can most likely get by without one, your case temperature is just going to be relatively high without a decent number of intake/exhaust fans.

    point being, if you try to run a cpu without a heatsink, chances are its going to be highly unstable after you get it up and running, or more likely, die out after a while of usage.

    Instead of Rdram, why not just merge 4 Sdram channels...
  3. There are fanless PSUs out there but they are rare and often more expensive. Here is a review of one: <A HREF="http://www.warp2search.net/reviews.php?op=showcontent&id=35" target="_new">http://www.warp2search.net/reviews.php?op=showcontent&id=35</A>

    As for passive cooling the CPU... Zalman has some solutions for that. And yes you can underclock a CPU... if the multipliers are unlocked (this means Intel is not an option)
    Say you get the Athlon XP1700+ with T-bred A or B core. Those CPUs run at 1.47 GHz (133*11) but come multiplier unlocked. You can easily select 133*8 and have an 1,06 GHz CPU if you got a motherboard that allows you to change the multiplier.

    My dual-PSU PC is so powerfull that the neighbourhood dims when I turn it on :eek:
  4. How about if he were to buy a 550 watt PSU and use it to run his Tbred at that speed. His system would use hardly any power (probably less than 300Watts) and so his PSU would be constantly cool. He could then attempt to remove the fan.

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  5. I don't think that is so easy to do. You need to be sure that the PSU uses componenets that get less hot with the same amount of power. If they only use more heatsinks+transistors inside and you don't have a fan running then the PSU will get very hot.

    My dual-PSU PC is so powerfull that the neighbourhood dims when I turn it on :eek:
  6. Run watercooling
  7. yeah unfortunately ZERO fans is not really an option
    if it's a low cost rig then watercooling probably isn't either
    i'd just do what some other people here said, which is get a good heatsink with a really quiet fan, and then for the PSU i might go for a <A HREF="http://www.pcpowerandcooling.com/" target="_new">PC Power and Cooling</A> power supply, because they are supposed to be really quiet and have a good reputation. i believe it will run up the cost slightly, but by how much i don't really know
    check it out

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  8. Thank You all,

    I personally have different feelings about it.
    I have tried Athlon XP 1700+ ThoroughBred B with aliminium heatsink without a fan and it keeps the temperature around 52C. I don't believe such temperature can possibly damage it. If I install a big copper heatsink the temperature could possibly get lower with 5 degrees. And if I lower the multiplier and the core voltage the temperature would be definately below any danger level.

    This pc would have only a MoBo(with a LAN), a HDD, a CPU and some RAM. There are no powerful GPUs or CD recorders. No CD drive, monitor or floppy. I don't see why the PSU needs a FAN?!? It will supply less than the half of its power.

    How come the laptops don't have fans? How come our home appliances don't have fans? Even the fans of a general air conditioning system are outside the house.

    I believe you. You have much more experience than me. But when I've got an idea I just can't get it out of my head. I have an old HDD (5400 rpm) and with some $150 I'll build that pc. Then I'll post here the results for that test. I just think no one deserves the noise of those nasty fans in every home PC.

    Thank you again for your comments,

    Deyan Atanasov
  9. How about buying a crappy 300watt pSU and trying it. The worst that will happen is it will get either unstable, crash, or in the worst case scenario start smoking. Either way, youll be there to control the sistuation and youll then know whether or not the idea is feasable - only at the expense of a shitty PSU.

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  10. I've never heard of a power supply with no fan, but check out <A HREF="http://www4.tomshardware.com/howto/20021021/powersupplies-08.html" target="_new">http://www4.tomshardware.com/howto/20021021/powersupplies-08.html</A> for a list of quiet ones. Here's a quote from further on in the article:

    Engelking Elektronik offers the best solution. As well as a fan, the AP2-6300SFC-A is fitted with a passive heat sink at the back. Engelking says that its product will operate at up to 49 degrees Celsius without the fan, and we can vouch for that. The power supply worked totally noise free under full load over an extended testing period. The unit was still surprisingly quiet, even when the fan was running. This achievement puts the Engelking in top place for ergonomics. On the other hand, its asking price is around $235, which is a bit steep.

    The Verax power supply, our runner-up in the ergonomic stakes, takes a different approach. Verax fitted this modified Fortron-source power supply with a special fan, which remains very quiet as long as it is running slowly.

    The setup you've offered could probably make do with a 250 or even 200 watt PS, so that may drop the price a bit.

    The CPU is probably do-able. The Zalman heatsinks are king when it comes to fanless operation. Northbridge is definatly do-able. Get a cheap Saphire Radeon 9000 for a fanless vid card, or even an ancient trident 2D PCI vid card. Who cares since you won't be running games on this.

    There is a program/reg hack out there that will drop the CPU temp when the CPU is idle. It only works when the CPU is idle, and hs no effect when it is being used. For that reason I never followed up on it and lost the link. I even forget the name of it, but I saw it posted here in the heatsink forum sometime in the fall of last year. T'would probably do wonders on your PC, as most of the time it likely will be sitting idle. Maybe someone else out there has more information than me?

    Knowan likes you. Knowan is your friend. Knowan thinks you're great.
  11. Its going to be very hard to go completely fanless... and anyway, you will still have hard drive noise to contend with.

    your best bet is something like a XP1700+ Tbred, large copper cooler, near silent panaflo fan, whisper psu and seagate quiet 7200rpm baracuda 5 drive.

    <b>Damn War! I'm too young to watch other people die!</b>
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  12. in my divx player i have an xp 1700 with a stock hsf and an enermax psu. the loudest thing in it is the hard drive. you can get fans to be very quiet. they will always make some ammount of noise. but in a room with the case closed you will not hear them unless you hold your breath and strain to listen. if you still cant take the noise you should seek phsycological counseling.

    my computer is so fast, it completes an endless loop in less than 4 seconds!
  13. I just finished trying to make my cpu 2000+ silent by unplugging all the fans. Then there was still an annoying buzzing sound from the motherboard and hard drive.

    So I got some long cords for the mouse, keyboard, and monitor, and stuck the box in my closet. SILENCE!
  14. Well, finally, I've decided to use the idea of nightswalker.

    There are several reasons for that.
    1) The PC is a server and it needs only two cables - power and LAN. It doesn't need to be in my bedroom.
    2) It is the most inexpensive way. I can use cheap noisy fans.

    I'll put it in the balcony. The LAN cable comes from the roof and there is a power outlet there.

    Another plus is that I can over-clock it in the winter :)

    I can't believe I've missed that! Anyway, I really liked all your solutions. They've shown me the future of passive cooling. And it looks promising.

    Deyan Atanasov
  15. You could start with a VIA Epia ITX motherboard, 800-933 MHz and processor. For a server,unless you chose Windows 2K or XP, it is very powerful.
    The most irritating noice would come from the hard-disks.
    You would need a fan unless you are able to get large heatsinks and a good layout forcomponents.
    The fan could be a 80 m.m. fan running at the lowest speed that you can.
    The Via mobo and processor, plus one or two hard-disks would generate around 20-30 Watt.
    As long as you have a flow or air that you could feel with your hand or holding a peace a thin paper that you could se moves, you have enough.

    Power supply could be a normal PSU but again some flow is needed.

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