Nearly every desktop and laptop has at least one thing to keep its temperatures down and if you’ve got a poorly optimized cooling solution, any kind of load on your machine can make it sound like you’ve got a dead engine taking off on your desk, now obviously cooling is important it is inevitable that computer components will generate waste heat.
But is there a better way to get rid of it then using noisy fans or complicated water cooling setups?
Which by the way aren’t always silent either well there are a couple of common types of computers that actually don’t use fans at all tablets and smartphones, it’s pretty intuitive that it wouldn’t be practical to strap a fan or a water cooler to your phone then carry it around in your pocket but the fact is that tablets and smartphones are basically just small computers that can do most of the things commonly done on a desktop or laptop.
So how do they get away with it?
The secret sauce here is called reduced instruction set computing or risk, the CPU at the very heart of your phone or tablet is built with a very different underlying architecture than your desktop at home, traditional CPUs are designed to be do-it-all general-purpose computing devices that can accomplish a wide range of different tasks, I mean just think of the endless number of programs that your home PC can run from demanding games to video editing software to even applications that were written before you were born however, your Android or iOS phone or tablet has a CPU that’s capable of executing fewer types of instructions and carrying them out in fewer clock cycles.
So although they are simpler and not as general-purpose as a laptop or desktop and they’re mostly only designed to run vetted apps to the App Store and Play Store they are much more power, efficient it’s like how fundamentally any car will get you from point A to point B, but near Aston Martin has a large engine and more cylinders and more complexity and therefore sucks a lot more gas than your average four banger Honda Civic that gets you well solid fuel economy and that’s about it, and this greater power efficiency which is important in mobile devices to extend their battery life means that phone and tablet CPUs generate a lot less heat which can be dissipated easily without a separate fan, for example some phones and tablets essentially use much of the devices metal chassis as one big heat sink you can actually try it out yourself if you rev up something like a 3d game and play it for a few minutes.
But does this mean that you’ll always need to use noisy fans for anything other than thin portable devices, well the answer is actually no fans are widely used because they’re cheap reasonably efficient and they don’t require a ton of space inside a computer’s chassis but fanless pcs do exist typically they take the form of desktops built with large heat sinks you see without fans he can still be dissipated effectively.
It just needs to be spread out over a larger surface area so that convection can take place naturally I mean that’s why CPU coolers have all those little fins on them if we just spread them out the air can kind of move itself just not very quickly.
So if you build a heatsink large enough you can adequately cool critical components without a fan attached to them not only do huge heat sinks exist for CPUs but you can also get them for your graphics card and there are even passively cooled power supplies Albia typically at lower wattages so that’s an option if you want a truly silent rig that doesn’t make any noise other than maybe some coil line.
But the big drawback of these solutions is that aside from being more expensive they’re often quite large one recently released passive CPU cooler was dubbed the heart and it won’t even fit in most cases not to mention that it requires a custom-built setup there are others that do fit inside a decently sized standard Tower but they still take up lots of room inside the case and won’t cool as well as a heatsink with a fan meaning that you might be limited to lower performance components that output less.