I know that you can reduce the noise, but what I’m asking is whether it is possible to completely mute it, i.e. let it run without fans running at all? I’d just be doing very light stuff (obviously), and in the environment I have to use it in (school), even a quiet humming noise would be annoying (not to me, but the people around me). In other words: Would the device run cool enough to operate fan-free if I’m using it for very lightweight tasks only? I mean, if it is so silent that it gets completely lost in ambient noise or by the sound of (gently) using the keyboard, it of course would be fine.
Yes. You can unplug the fan cables. Is this smart? No? Would you want to this? No.
Why? Because at lower speeds the fan is inaudible to human ears and the coil whine is louder.
And no the device would not run cool enough fanless, why? Because the heatsink does not have enough mass to store the heat and passively dissipate heat at the same rate that the proccessor creates it.
The fan will be far quiter then Ambient Noise and the keyboard from my experience at lower settings!
Have you tested this? The heatsink is legitimately tiny. Yes you could run at 400mhz and be constantly thermal throttling. Is this preferable over running the fan at a inaudible volume? No.
On top of that the heatsink has very little access to passive airflow because the fan blocks most of it.
That image is from a board disassembly of a 2020 MacBook Air running Ice Lake. Look at that heatsink, it too is tiny af. Granted there are more cores on 12th gen vs 10th but performance per core also improved. Yes it is possible. I never said it would be my first choice. I would run the fan personally but that isn’t what OP asked for.
The heatsink should be capable enough to run the CPU at 10-15W more than likely and definitely enough to run it at 5W if you want to get real silly with power consumption.
So you could effectively run it as an i3
OP is doing office work, he can afford to just use e-cores if he is fine with that.
EDIT: Correction, the heatsink pictured is from the above macbook model but even the air at that time used a fan. I’m not a mac user and thought all the air models were fanless like the m-series airs are. This is not the case. It is likely that even at 10W TDP more thermal dissipation will be required.
BTW, to elaborate on the ectool suggestions. The safest method would be to use ectool to set the fan_off temperature to something higher like 65C (and fan_max to something like 80C in case of a runaway): Changing the fan temperture points with ectool and to set thermald to limit throttle the CPU at say 60C. In theory, the fan should never turn on in that case, and if you do end up going past it for some reason, the fan table should still automatically turn on.
You can of course use the ectool to simply set the fan duty to 0% and do the same limiting with thermald, but you won’t throttle until PROC_HOT which may get you in trouble.
You may also want to disable turbo for better efficiency as well (there are a few tools, like tlp, auto-cpufreq, or set it directly via sysfs. - tlp is nice since you can easily execute a script to swap whatever profiles you want on ac/battery pretty easily (you could do this via udev as well. You’d have to test yourself in a fully passive situation whether you end up with better overall performance w/ turbo or not (I’d assume off, since turbo tends to go beyond the power/perf sweet spot).
Ehhhh, calling it effective is a stretch lol. It only works if you are willing to nerf performance to the extreme. Although if I were really committed to passive cooling, I would put thermal pads between the heat pipes and the chassis to turn the chassis into a giant heat sink.
It would be a lot less hassle and headache to just turn TDP down a little and lock the fans to a lower and near inaudible level.
EDIT: That macbook air had a fan, chassis mods will be required for a completely fanless operation. It would be simpler to just tune the fan to personal preference in terms of noise/speed ratio.
One thing I mentioned elsewhere on the forum is that, assuming the framework’s BIOS has the setting to do so (I know of 12th gen desktop motherboard with the setting), you could even disable as many of the P-cores as possible in order to make as many workloads as possible be loaded onto the E-cores instead.
There’s also the idea of disabling hyperthreading altogether to help as well, but the argument really could go either way in terms of for or against hyperthreading to help with minimizing heat output i.e. having it enabled would keep at least one additional process on the P-core that could instead be forced onto the E-core and therefore result in higher heat output, but hyperthreading on a P-core should also offer greater performance-per-watt than compared to one P-core and one E-core.
Passive cooling A laltop could be done … It might be possible with some mods on the framework chassie… HOWEVER if you use the Laptop housing to spread the heat out it could get very uncomfortable to use on your lap quite quickly.
I agree with most posters saying that throttling the CPU and reducing power targets could be the best way to turn down the noise of the fan.
Regarding BIOS settings… Many settings can be patched straight into the BIOS through UEFI variables. I tried (without success) to undervolt and the tutorials to modify advanced BIOS settings like voltage offsets seem to work (but the changes are not applied).
On disabling turbo mode… I usually find it a good idea to have short performance peaks available. It is commonly used in race-to-sleep powermanagement and may help if the workload is very uneven (occasional spikes, otherwise idle). You just get more sleep time and true sleep is much better than a cpu running at low speeds (usually).
You could use Intel RAPL to limit the short and long term power consumption. The framework laptop comes preconfigured with 64W over 2.5ms and 28W over 30s.
In theory adjusting those 2 setting should help a lot.
Something about this comment makes me want to remove the heatsink from my XPS 13 and lock the CPU to 400 MHz and see if it could even get hot enough to throttle under that condition… It definitely won’t with the heatsink installed, been there, tested that.