How Does a Fanless Computer Work?


If you have ever seen a fanless computer or PC or you’re interested in purchasing one, you might be wondering how does a fanless pc work and how does a fanless PC stay cool? We will discuss the answers to these two questions in much detail below. If you’re looking for the best industrial fanless computers, check out Premio’s excellent selection of industrial fanless PCs.

How Does a Fanless Computer Work & How Does it Stay Cool?

A fanless computer works and stays cool by utilizing heat sinks to transfer the heat away from the internal heat-generating components, such as the CPU and silicon chips, to the aluminum body of the computer, which acts as a huge heat sink to dissipate the heat and transfer it away from the PC. Fanless PCs do not use fans to keep themselves cool. Premium industrial fanless PC brands, such as Premio, have added fins to the top of their aluminum cases to further transfer heat away from the computer system’s outer casing into the surrounding air.


So, how do heatsinks keep your computer cool?

heat-sinkHeat sinks will keep your computer cool without the need for fans because they transfer heat away from components, such as the CPU and graphics chip, by absorbing the heat generated by these components and transferring it to the cooler portion of the system, which is the aluminum body of the system’s enclosure. The outer enclosure is then cooled by the air surrounding it.  

Fourier’s Law of Heat Conduction explains how heat sinks are able to dissipate heat. The theory boils down to the principle that when there is a temperature gradient in a body, heat is transferred from the region with the hotter temperature to the region with the cooler temperature.

Premio has cooled its industrial fanless computers by adding an aluminum block on top of the CPU, as well as a very thin layer of thermal paste between the aluminum block and the processor to fill in the microscopic spaces between the CPU and heat sink for maximum heat dissipation. The other end of the aluminum block makes contact with the system’s enclosure, thereby transferring all of the heat from the CPU and internal components to the enclosure, which is then cooled by the air surrounding it.

To further cool down your PC, Premio has designed the aluminum body of its fanless industrial computers for maximum heat dissipation by adding rugged fins to the top of the system case. The addition of fins increases the surface area of the case, which increases the amount of heat that is dissipated by the outer enclosure.

The thermal design architecture for passively cooling PCS using heatsinks is a foundation for long-term reliability, making fanless computer systems great for harsh enterprise IoT deployments. Most industrial-grade applications rely on well-designed thermal dynamics in their computing solutions to optimize the total cost of ownership but, most importantly, eliminate the risk of downtime.

Is Keeping Your Computer Cool Important?

Yes, keeping your computer cool is necessary to keep it functioning reliably. If your computer is not properly cooled, it may overheat, shutdown, turn on, and shut off again. This is a situation that no one ever wants to be in, especially when applications in IoT are mission-critical.

Also, if your computer does overheat, but not to the point where the system must shut itself off, it will become extremely slow as the processor reduces its power consumption to avoid overheating and damaging itself. This is known as thermal throttling, which is built into CPUs for added protection and system reliability.

At Premio Inc, our cooling solutions are ideal for industrial use because most of our systems are completely enclosed and passively cooled using the case of the computer system as a large heat sink to dissipate the heat generated by the PC, so you will never have to worry about your system overheating because of a broken fan or debris blocking the system’s airflow. Learn more about fanless passive cooling here.

Do Fanless Computers Overheat?

Fanless computers do not overheat for a number of reasons. For example, industrial fanless PCs do not overheat thanks to the advancements in CPU technology. Intel has made a number of processors that are extremely powerful but use little power. Since the processors use less power, they tend to produce less amounts of heat, making them perfect for embedded and edge IoT computers. Whatever heat is generated by the processor is dissipated thanks to the enclosure of the PC system, which functions are a large heat sink, cooling down the internal components of your PC.

Also, most fanless PCs are totally closed off since there is no need for an opening to pull in air to the system; this prevents debris and dust from accumulating inside the PC system, thereby reducing the possibility that your system will overheat.

That said, in the event that your computer does overheat, you do not have to worry about damaging it. This is so because almost all modern CPUs are equipped with a technology known as dynamic frequency scaling, which basically slows down (throttles) the processor when it starts generating too much heat so that it can avoid damaging itself.

What are the Advantages of Fanless PCs?

There are several advantages (pros) of having a fanless PC; we will discuss them in much detail below:


1. Silent Operation

The first benefit of having a fanless PC that you will notice is the fact that passively cooled PCs are silent because there are no fans to make noise while pushing air through the system. As previously mentioned, fanless PCs stay cool through the use of heat sinks to transfer heat from the internal heat-generating components to the outside of the computer system’s case.

Additionally, the use of Solid-State Drives (SSDs) in our fanless industrial computers further reduces the amount of noise that is made from our systems. Replacing hard drives with SSDs reduces the noise because SSDs do not have moving platters inside of them to create noise. Instead, data is stored on memory chips, which eliminates any noise coming from the system.
Some deployments of industrial PCs require the silent operation of computer systems because any noise will be distracting. Such situations include operating rooms, libraries, labs, and other environments where silent operation is needed.

2. Reliability

The second benefit of industrial fanless PCs is that they’re designed and manufactured according to industrial standards, which are more rigorous than the standards for consumer desktop PCs. This makes them last longer and operate more reliably than their consumer counterparts.

Also, since fans are often a point of failure in many PCs, by eliminating them entirely from our systems, we have increased the reliability of our solutions.

Additionally, the industrial computer systems offered by Premio are more reliable than other brands because we use SSDs (solid-state drives) in all of our computer systems. This reduces the moving parts and increases reliability because SSDs have been proven to be significantly more reliable than hard drives. According to experts in the industry, hard drives often fail within 300,000 hours of use, while SSDs often fail after 1.5 million hours of use, making them a perfect alternative for hard drives. Also, the prices of SSDs have significantly fallen, making them an inexpensive option that adds to the reliability of your system.

3. Shock & Vibration Standards

The third benefit of Premio’s industrial fanless computers is that they are built to withstand greater amounts of vibration and shock than regular PCs. Premio, for example, has made its industrial fanless PC shock and vibration resistant by designing and manufacturing a sturdy motherboard that can withstand shocks and vibrations that consumer motherboards cannot.

Premio’s industrial fanless computers can withstand up to 50Gs of shock, as well as 5 GRMs of vibrations, tested in compliance with MIL-STD 810 Standard. Premio has made this possible by ditching fans, using SSDs instead of hard drives, and by using a cableless design that eliminates the possibility that connectors can disconnect from their connections.

4. Small Form Factor

Fanless computers tend to have a smaller footprint than larger air-cooled setups, making them a great option for placement in small or compact spaces. Since cooling is not necessary, they can easily be installed into manufacturing equipment or kiosks. So, if you have a small space with little no ventilation and you need a powerful computer to fit in such a space, look no further than Premio’s line of industrial fanless PCs.

5. Flexible Remote and Mobile Deployment

Since fanless computers require less power than consumer computers, this makes them a great option for remote and mobile deployments. So, if you’re looking for industrial-grade performance from a PC but also need it to use little power, Premio has you covered with a number of great fanless PC options. Our rugged edge computing solutions satisfy the demand for a low-powered embedded processor closer to data and IoT sensors. We have developed our fanless computers to be compatible with unstable environments that still require industrial-grade performance.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Are fanless computers quiet?

Yes, fanless computers are among the quietest computers. This is so because fans are removed from computers to make them fanless. When fans are removed, this reduces the noise coming from them as they spin and circulate air throughout the computer system. Computers with SSDs are even quieter and operate at near silence since there are no moving parts, such as hard drives and fans, to make any noise.

2. Are fanless computers safe?

Yes, fanless computers are 100% safe, so long as you use them according to their manufacturer’s specifications. At Premio, our fanless PCs are the best in the market.

3. What is a fanless PC?

A fanless PC, is as the name suggests, a PC that does not have any fans. Such computers work and stay cool by utilizing heatsinks to dissipate heat from the system.

At Premio, we offer a variety of different industrial fanless PC options. So, if you’re ever in the market for a fanless PC, check out our excellent selection.

4. What is passive cooling for computers?

Passive cooling when it comes to industrial refers to using a fanless approach to cooling, which usually involves the use of a heatsink to dissipate the heat generated from the internal heat-generating components. Passive cooling is much different from active cooling, which involves the use of fans to circulate air through the heat sink and internal components to cool them down.