I have a desktop PC with the CPU Intel I7-12700F with 180 TDP, the CPU fan Zalman CNPS10X extreme, and Windows 11 and my problem is that The CPU cooling causes much noise when simple tasks are being performed; opening directories or windows, opening or closing small programs such as Notepad, Calculator, web browser, or when taking the PC out of sleep mode.

I am not a CS student, just a layman trying to understand if the desktop CPU development field is somewhat "stuck" in the past decades.

If desktop CPUs of the 2020's generally use more power than those of previous decades hence get hot faster and require more extensive and noisy cooling, I'd carefully assume that desktop CPUs of 2020's aren't essentially very different than those of the 90's and 80's.

Are there perhaps different paradigms to create essentially differently desgined desktop CPUs which may allow similar capabilities but with fanless cooling / passive cooling?
Currently, fanless cooling is nearly nonexistent when it comes to desktop CPUs. A notorious CPU cooling model, Nofan CR-80EH is aimed for desktop CPUs of no more than 80 Watt TDP and I don't know if such CPUs are still manufactured.

I am coming to ask this ignorantly and by a possible false analogy to electricity production. If I am not mistaken, electricity production has had some radical engineering shifts from coal burning, such as producing electricity from water flow, wind flow, nuclear reaction (such as fission), solar panels (also heat but still a radical change) and who knows what future holds?

Is there any radical approach to develop desktop CPUs at least in theory or currently in research labs, that will allow completely silent / fanless desktop computers with CPU capabilities similar to those of current desktop CPUs?

By the way, why not creating a motherboards with several small general processers, each one with passive cooling?

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    $\begingroup$ You don't need a radical new paradigm to create fanless, passive cooled computers. My Apple MacBook Air is fanless and fully passively cooled, so is my iPhone, my Samsung Galaxy, all three of my iPads, my Kindle, and my WiFi router. Smart TVs are typically passively cooled, as are some gaming consoles, especially the handheld ones. $\endgroup$ May 13, 2023 at 15:20
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    $\begingroup$ Modern PCs aren't supposed to be loud all the time. Temporarily when the CPU is at high load, maybe. If yours is loud all the time, there is probably something wrong with the fan profile. $\endgroup$
    – user555045
    May 13, 2023 at 18:15
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    $\begingroup$ @cpuObtainer: "I ask solely on desktop computer CPUs" – There is no difference between the M1 chip in a MacBook Air or iPad Pro and the one in the Mac mini or iMac. There are plenty of fanless, passively cooled desktops. In fact, they are much easier to build than fanless, passively cooled phones or laptops because there is a lot more space available for radiative and convective cooling. $\endgroup$ May 13, 2023 at 18:31
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    $\begingroup$ Don't be so obtuse ! As said by others, fanless computers are around since long. And the matter IS of commercial interest, that's unavoidable. $\endgroup$
    – user16034
    May 13, 2023 at 18:49
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    $\begingroup$ @cpuObtainer: Silentmaxx has been building and selling fanless, passively cooled PCs for over 20 years. And they were just the first of dozens of hits that came up on Google. It's really simple: fanless, passively cooled smartphones exist. Fanless, passively cooled desktops are much easier to build than fanless, passively cooled smartphones since there is a lot more space and mass you can use for convective and radiative cooling. So, it is really not surprising at all that fanless, passively cooled desktops exist. $\endgroup$ May 14, 2023 at 13:54

2 Answers 2


Two areas of research to consider:

  • Reversible logic, and in particular, adiabatic circuits. The idea here is to increase energy conservation as much as possible by not destroying information most of the time.
  • Asynchronous logic. The theory behind this is that the best CPU clock speed is no clock at all.

This already exists. Mobile processors meet all of your requirements.

There is a fundamental, unavoidable tradeoff between power consumption and processing speed. You can already buy CPUs that lie at different points along that tradeoff. Companies like Intel, AMD, etc., market high-end CPUs that maximize processing speed, at the cost of consuming more power; these are typically called "desktop CPUs" for marketing purposes. Companies like Apple, ARM, Intel, AMD, etc. also make CPUs that are designed to reduce power consumption, at the cost of somewhat lower processing speed; these are typically called "mobile CPUs" for marketing purposes. If you build a CPU for desktops that achieves lower power consumption, low enough to build a desktop CPU, then it is considered a mobile CPU, for marketing purposes.

So the CPUs that are marketed as "mobile CPUs" already are exactly what you are looking for.

You can already build a fanless desktop, by using a mobile processor and other parts that have lower power consumption, and there are plenty of them that you can already buy today. For instance, if you search for "fanless PC", you'll find many systems that you can buy right now.

  • $\begingroup$ But I want non "mobile CPU" desktop which is fanless. Why is that such a hard thing to get? For example, "fanless PC" as you mention will usually not have a CPU with more than 80 TPD, but I want around 200 TDP fanless. Why is that impossible to get? $\endgroup$ May 14, 2023 at 14:26
  • $\begingroup$ @cpuObtainer so you want a different cooler design rather than a different CPU $\endgroup$
    – Bulat
    May 15, 2023 at 4:20

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