Low TDP mainboard option for quieter computing?

There have been lots of threads here about the fan noise issues many of us have experienced, and some software palliatives (fw-fanctrl, auto-cpufreq). It seems clear that a passive cooling option would require some major surgery. But what about just providing a mainboard upgrade option using one of the low-TDP (15W or less) “thin and light laptop” chips? Wouldn’t that, in practice, give us most of the practical quietness of a passive cooling option with much less surgery required?

I’m thinking of, for instance, the newish Intel Core 3 100U which is available in some NUC builds now. The benchmark comparisons I can find say that this performs as well, perhaps a little better, than the i7-1185G7 in my DIY edition; and surely it would do so while putting out much less heat, and thus much less frequently turn the fan on, no? Am I missing a reason why this would be hard, or would it be good to start gathering info on how widely this option would be desired?

You can use software to limit the TDP of current chips to completely stop fan noise. As for any hardware options, it really comes down to demand and costs for Framework. I think a software limit is easier for several reasons:

  • It’s free and flexible
  • You can always remove the limit if you require more performance

In contrast, you are pretty much locked into one performance target with passively cooled chips. In the future, Framework may explore using different processors no one outside of Framework knows.


So what do you recommend as a software TDP limiter for Intel chips running Linux? I’ve searched around on both this forum and other sites and not found something standard and easy to use.

I’m not quite familiar with Linux however, I have heard of this: GitHub - vagnum08/cpupower-gui: cpupower-gui is a graphical program that is used to change the scaling frequency limits of the cpu, similar to cpupower.. Give it a shot and see if it works.

Another option would be intel-undervolt (even if the undervolting doesn’t work these days it is pretty convenient for setting tdps and temp limits and stuff)