2013-05-15

We are fans of fanless products

 

You will only find a small selection of products on the market that are advertised as fanless. Now what actually makes these machines so special? And why should you consider them when you are next thinking of buying a new machine? This article gives the answers.

Why do some PCs need a fan and others not?

The decisive factors are the heat generated during operation and the relevant maximum operating and ambient temperatures. These issues are extensively tested and monitored by Shuttle in a range of chassis models and with different equipment setups. If no thresholds are exceeded when using large-area heatsinks, the machine can be safely and reliably cooled without the need for a fan. The critical heat sources here are always the processor and graphics card. The crucial criterion in product development is TDP (thermal design power), which describes the power loss of electronic components. Components that have been developed for mobile devices are particularly widely used in fanless PCs. For example, energy-saving processors with low TDP values are ideally suitable. All passively cooled Shuttle PCs come fitted with soldered processors and a graphics unit, which means the consumer has no need to worry about the suitability of the installed components. All other required elements, e.g. RAM and drives, remain freely selectable.

XS35


Here is a list of currently available Shuttle fanless solutions

All-in-One PC Slim PC Mini PC
Basic processor Model Basic processor Model In this product category all models have an effective heatpipe cooling system with large fan. Reliable fanless cooling of the high-performance components has not yet proved possible.
Intel Atom
X50V2
X50V3
X50V3L
Intel Atom

XS35..
XS36..
(all models and variants)
Intel Celeron

DS47
(available soon)
Completely fanless = solely passively cooled

Details correct as of: June 2013


PCs without fans have numerous advantages

(1 - Noise level) The most important one is low operating noise. These days in our everyday lives we are constantly exposed to all types of noise. A sort of acoustic carpet is created by a mixture of loud, potentially damaging noise and other constant background noise that initially may seem comparatively quiet. Over the long term this acoustic carpet can have harmful consequences that differ widely from person to person and can seriously affect particularly sensitive individuals. Examples of the negative effects include lack of concentration, anxiety, high blood pressure and sleep problems. With a fanless PC you can remove one of these sources of noise from the desk or living room, thereby stopping the constant humming, buzzing and vibration*. Even a small change such as this can make a significant contribution to an individual's quality of life.
(2 - Dirt) No fan means less dust. Without the powerful air flow of an active fan fewer of the particles contained in normal room air are sucked in and then expelled from the machine to circulate around the room. As well as being beneficial to allergy sufferers, this also helps keep the home and work area clean. Although for purely physical reasons passive cooling systems move the surrounding air by thermal convection, this process is significantly less intense than with fan-based systems.
(3 - Reliability) Mechanical components such as fans are particularly susceptible to malfunction. Because of their constant movement, even the best-quality fans suffer from wear at some point in their lives. In fact, malfunctions of actively cooled PCs occur equally often as a result of the fan seizing due to the dust and dirt problems mentioned above. For example, the constant air flow can quickly lead to the accumulation of house dust and therefore blockage of the fan. This means the machine is no longer cooled and results in overheating and failure. Preventing malfunctions is a maintenance-intensive task and involves the regular cleaning and checking of the functions of actively cooled machines. Since this potential source of problems has been removed from fanless PCs, the amount of servicing required is significantly reduced.

For these and many other reasons we are fans of fanless products. Become a fan too!

*In order to ensure zero operating noise from fanless PCs, we recommend that no rotating data storage media (e.g. hard disks or optical drives) are installed. Ideally, only Flash memory devices (e.g. SSDs) should be used.


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