Passive air coolers are not something that many people demand or ask for when going to look for a cooling unit for their computer. This is why even some computer enthusiasts have not heard of passive air coolers. So, what is a passive air cooler for CPU? A passive air cooler is a cooler with only the heatsink and heat pipes and no fan. It is essentially a fanless air cooler. They are very low on demand because in most cases it is generally just better to go for a standard air cooler with a fan. There is not too much of a price difference between an air cooler and a fanless air cooler. Performance-wise, passive air coolers will always be less effective than an air cooler that has a fan.
So, why would you want a passive air cooler if it can not match up to a standard air cooler? A passive air cooler has literally zero dBA noise due to the utter lack of a fan. For people who absolutely abhor fan noise, these sorts of coolers are ideal. They also do not require regular cleaning as fan air coolers do due to the lack of a fan. Hence, no regular maintenance and cleaning are required for these non-fan coolers. Also, no power is used by these coolers to do their cooling. Passive air coolers are essentially strictly for enthusiasts of zero sound setups. For people who want to overclock or put their computers under a load when using their setups, a passive air cooler will not do the job. They should go for a standard air cooler with fans. For people who are very casual users or have home theater PC setups that thrive in no excess noise, passive air coolers will be a delight.
NoFan is a company that focuses on making products that provide cooling without the use of fans. Fans cause a lot of noise and vibrations in a computer. They are very useful for cooling purposes but the unwanted disruptions that come with the use of fans can be very irritating. NoFan is a company that has been making ways to provide the same level of cooling to your computer but without the use of fans. Such a cooling system results in a completely noiseless and vibration-free cooler that gathers almost no dust. A cooler which does not have the downsides of noise and dust, but gives the same level of cooling would be a dream scenario indeed.
This is what NoFan has been looking to achieve and with the CR-80EH they have made the best passive air cooler so far. The NoFan CR-80EH passive air cooler is a one-of-a-kind product. As you will no doubt notice, it has a very unique design. This fanless cooler is shaped like a bucket or a basket. There is no heat pipe being used in this fanless air cooler. Instead, NoFan has employed the use of ice pipes in this fanless air cooler. The patented NoFan ice pipe cooling technology is able to give a very good level of cooling to the computer or CPU.
The CR-80EH is a completely noiseless air cooler. This is to be expected since there are no fans being used in this cooler. It is also dust-free. Even after a long time of use, there is no collection of dust in the CR-80EH. The NoFan CR-80EH has a total thermal design power or TDP support of 80 watts. So, you need to make sure your PC stays within the TDP threshold for it to function appreciatively. Of course, if you end up overclocking or putting your CPU under heavy load do not expect to get much when it comes to cooling. This is true for all passive air coolers, however, as they are not made for any heavy-duty cooling.
The unique shape of the NoFan CR-80EH makes it a little complicated when it comes to the PC setup you want to install it in. You need to make sure you have enough free space in the center of your motherboard. For people who are using mini-ITX or micro ATX motherboards, the CR-80EH may not be the ideal cooler. There are also some limitations when it comes to compatibility with processors for the CR-80EH. This motherboard is not compatible with anything above the Intel i7 7th Gen processors. Make sure to keep these compatibility limitations in mind and measure for space in your setup before you buy this passive air cooler.
2. SilverStone Heligon HE02
- Option of adding fan if needed
- Asymmetric design
- Higher compatibility
- Substantial size causes concern
- Heavy for a passive cooler
Dimensions: 130 mm x 170 mm x 160 mm | Weight: 990 g | Type of pipes: 6x Heat pipes | TDP: 95 | Compatibility: Intel and AMD sockets
SilverStone is a tech-related company that manufactures a lot of different computer-related products. SilverStone makes products like computer chassis and cases, coolers and fans, power supplies, and storage products in computers. As we look into the passive air cooler for CPU’s, it would be a mistake to not mention the SilverStone Heligon HE02 in this list. This is a massive air cooler, especially for a non-fan air cooler. SilverStone has made certain adjustments that allow for an easier time installing and positioning this air cooler in a computer setup but it can still prove to be a challenge.
Just by looking at the dimensions, you are able to see that this is significantly larger in size than the previous products we have mentioned. It has a higher weight as compared to the other products as well. For a passive air cooler to weigh almost 1 kg is higher than expected. The shape and design of the SilverStone HE02 is asymmetrical. This gives you the ability to position the cooler which best suits your computer casing and motherboard. The HE02 fanless cooler has 6 heat pipes each of which is 6 mm thick. If the passive cooling is not cutting it for you, the HE02 has the option of adding a fan to it. One 120 mm fan addition to this cooler gives you a TDP of above 150 Watts.
The biggest cause for concern for the SilverStone HE02 is its massive size. You have to check several things before buying a cooler this big. You will need to have an ATX form factor motherboard, any lower size than the standard ATX will probably not be viable with the Heligon HE02. Then, you need to make sure there will be enough space in your casing to actually fit in this non-fan cooler. Lastly, you will also need to make sure that you will have enough space on your motherboard for RAM and GPU to be slotted in along with this cooler. These are the main causes of concern for this air cooler. This is a rather heavy passive air cooler; you will need to account for that as well.
A plus point of the Heligon HE02 is its higher compatibility options than the other picks in this list. Essentially, the HE02 has more updated compatibility. For Intel users, the HE02 is compatible up to the SkyLake X and KabyLake X processor variants. For AMD users, this is compatible up to the AMD AM4 socket, though you will have to separately buy a bracket for AM4 compatibility. This is a good option for the long term as you can add a fan if needed. The cooling without the fan is exceptional as long as you stay under 95 W TDP.
3. DeepCool Lucifer K2 Gamer Storm
- Option to add fan
- Leaves appreciable space for memory components
- Reasonable price
- Installing can be a hassle
- TDP may be lower than stated
Dimensions: 146.5 mm x 131.5 mm x 163 mm | Weight: 1047 g | Type of pipes: 6x Heat pipes | TDP: 130 W | Compatibility: Intel and AMD sockets
When looking into coolers of any sort, even passive air coolers you are bound to run into some of the more known companies such as DeepCool. DeepCool makes cooling related products as the name suggests. The DeepCool Lucifer K2 Gamer Storm compatible with a fan as well; however, we are discussing fanless coolers so we will be looking into Lucifer K2’s capabilities as a passive or non-fan cooler. The Lucifer K2 was released by DeepCool after the Lucifer V2.
The DeepCool Lucifer K2 Gamer Storm has 6 heat pipes. The heatsink has a 1,000,000 mm2 area for heat dissipation. The design of the Lucifer K2 makes it so that it is slightly skewed to provide more space and freedom to place the RAM. One DIMM slot is completely free while the other is available for a low-profile RAM to be slotted in. Size-wise this is not a small air cooler by any means. So, having that freedom of space with a cooler of this size is really nice.
The Lucifer K2 Gamer Storm has a pure copper base that is in direct contact with the CPU. The copper base is also nearly all flat to give even more area in contact with the CPU. This gives a lot of instant heat dissipation from the CPU to the heatsink via the copper base hence giving quick and efficient cooling. The K2 Gamer Storm also has the option to add a fan to it if the non-fan cooling isn’t doing the job for you. That will mean giving up on the noiseless cooling that a passive air cooler gives. Cooling wise this is not the best passive air cooler in the market but most of the time it gets the job done.
There are a couple of downsides to the Lucifer K2. For one thing, that installation can prove to be finicky. The thermal design power limit mentioned for passive fanless cooling is 130 TDP. Sometimes it is seen to be much lower than that around 65 TDP without a fan. Adding a fan will certainly raise the TDP but you are buying a passive air cooler specifically so you do not have to have the noise and dust of a fan in your PC. Overall, even with these couple of flaws, the Lucifer K2 comes at a reasonable price.
4. NoFan CR-95C
Great cooling capabilities
- Ice pipe as well as heat pipe
- Great cooling under the 95 W mark
- Noise and dust free
- Wide enough to cause issues
Dimensions: 180 mm diameter x 148 mm high | Weight: 800 g | Type of pipes: Ice pipes, 4x Heat pipes | TDP: 95 W | Compatibility: Intel and AMD sockets
We have already discussed one product of NoFan in this list when the NoFan CR-80EH made it to the number one spot in our list. As expected, there are many more products that NoFan has to offer in the world of cooling and especially those which do not require the use of a fan. The NoFan name might have given it away but NoFan wants to make effective cooling products for computers without the use of fans. Fans tend to cause much-unwanted noise and catch a lot of dust over a short period of time hence resulting in the need for regular cleaning.
The NoFan CR-95C is a comical piece of hardware. It is for lack of a better world, gigantic. At 180 mm wide this is a very space-consuming cooler for a CPU. The worse thing about having such a big cooler is the limitation it puts on the rest of your setup. The height of the NoFan CR-95C is around the 150 mm mark. That will be fine for the most part unless you have a small size casing. The width however is bound to cause issues for a lot of setups. For one thing, it will take up the space of one PCIe X16 slot. This will be fine for users who have a second PCIe X16 slot and a single GPU. You will also have about 30 – 34 mm worth of space for your memory sticks. Just make sure your setup ticks these boxes before you buy this cooler.
The CR-95C has ice pipes as well as heat pipes. The ice pipes are in direct contact with the 6 heat pipes for heat dissipation and cooling at a faster and more efficient rate. Cooling wise this is a really good passive air cooler but do not expect anything if you are going above the 95 Watts mark in TDP. As long as you can reliably stay below 95 Watts then this fanless cooler should not have any issue keeping your CPU nice and cool.
This is a completely noise-free air cooler. This is to be expected of course due to the lack of a fan in the cooler but it is still nice to know that the cooler is performing as you want it to when you buy a fanless air cooler. There is also no dust being collected in this air cooler. Overall, just requires no regular cleaning like all air coolers with fans do. Apart from this being a very wide and space-consuming cooler the only real downside is the price. This is quite expensive when it comes to passive air coolers.