Request: Fanless Option

This was mostly a joke but the 16 probably has a much better passive cooling setup than a macbook air just by virtue of being much bigger but it is definitely not meant for it.

Bigger issue there is skin temperature which can’t really be guaranteed without a fan and is kind of a legal requirement.

I do run a x270 with an unplugged fan for media consumption tasks which it does just fine but it does get uncomfortably hot if you were to actually use it in a lap. Actual passive laptops need to take care to insulate the hot parts from the user.

That definitely helps but just turning down the tdp of the hs will likely get you very close to the u in that regard.

But in all seriousness, the macbook airs are literally built for this, kinda hard to beat them at that game.

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What Apple did with their custom chips is very impressive with regards to efficiency. I doubt though, that they did it with silence in mind. Apple can optimise their whole ecosystem around just a couple of chips. They can optimise their OS specifically for these chips.
Downside: they are not x86 chips and won´t run Windows. Don´t know about Linux though.

For x86, @Magic is typically correct: these chips aren’t that efficient, so if you want to go fanless, you either need bigger/more passive cooling, or turn down the chip speed and possibly voltage to limit the power.

The latter is certainly possible with a FW, also with other laptops. Heck, when I am just doing some word processing, my fan won´t turn on anyway, and that is with only some minor tweaks.

Fazit: If that is fine with you, you can limit the speed/power and it might be what you want.
But efficiency-wise, at the moment you can’t beat Apple’s silicon with a FW.

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True that they leverage ARM chips. But there are many x86 options by other manufacturers like Dell for example. The problem with them is they are small, often around 13’’ and they have little RAM. It’s evident that fast fanless is possible but this user group is underserved by manufacturers. They assume fanless buyers will be content with little RAM and small screens, but that’s not the case. Apple saw the opportunity this year and released a 15” version of Airs.

In short, if Dell can make 13-inch fanless XPS with decent performance it means they can also make 15 or 17-inch versions since passive cooling is easier with bigger computers. They just don’t think there is enough interest in these, I suppose.

Here is a list of fanless laptops in the market right now: Fanless laptops (completely silent) in 2024 - the best options

I think this hits the nail on the head.

A lot of people just don’t care, so the market is pretty little. On top of that, if you want some power, you really have to think about how to get the heat away, which likely results in a more expensive solution (both in bill of materials as in development time). So for a lot of manufacturers it is just not worth the effort.

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I’m with you OP, it can’t be that hard. My old Latitude has a i5-5300U and the fan almost never comes on in normal daily use, especially when running Linux (I dual boot Manjaro with Windows). Even on Windows, the fan spins up on startup cuz of whatever tomfoolery Windows needs to do to start up, but then they go quiet.

I’ve been testing an even older E5500 that I put a Core 2 Duo P9600 in (P being the low-wattage variant in that series at 25W), and that thing almost runs at room temp…running Windows 11! The cooling system was designed for a T-variant (35W) and it wasn’t designed to be fanless, but it might as well be now!

If those old machines with those old chips can keep that cool, I have to imagine we have the technology to do it on purpose with a modern CPU. I think the question becomes is it feasible within the design constraints of the 16? Do we also need a lower-res screen to lighten the GPU load? Can such a low-watt chip support all the peripherals already designed into the 16? What are the side effects of a Framework Air?

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I am looking for fanless laptops with enough capacity for RAM and storage along with decent screen size. I don’t need a GPU and a 15W CPU with good single core performance is enough for me. So far the only option is either Macbook Air or Lenovo Thinkpad Fold X1.

I really wish Framework would offer an alternative. Like OP, if there is noise, I don’t care the rest; silence is my top requirement. And computers with fans will get loud eventually if not loud when they are brand new. The solution is to discard the fan from the beginning.

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Yeah, that’s the discussion we should be having. Though, we should definitely let GPU go, it’s not possible to accommodate a GPU without a fan. We should be satisfied with CPU graphics.

Not on desktops though, 3 years ago I bought an Airtop3 which was able to handle passive cooling up to 200W, so I had a high-power CPU and GPU installed in it. It was GREAT until the unit failed. :sweat_smile: I had to return it.

Honestly the 16 without a dgpu with the tdp and max temp turned down is probably going to go a long way here, especially if you can live with the fan coming on at min sometimes to keep the skin temperature within legal spec.

The power impact on drawing a higher res screen on the igpu is pretty insignificant, as long as you don’t start gaming on it (desktop use and all that). Higher res screens do tend to use more power but it’s the display drawing most of that and the display is already passively cooled.

Replacing the hs with the u version should be pretty painless in that regard since it’s just a different bin of the same silicon with all the same features but the hs with the tdp and max temp turned down is probably allready fine.

The current gen amd built in graphics are already pretty fancy.

If you were to go fancy a passive heatsink kit that extends into the expansion bay space where the fans and gpu would be, would be a somewhat afordable option compared to a whole custom board and everything and cover most of the use case. Also would be relatively doable as a hobby project, having a custom heatsink cncd is expensive but not prohibitively so.

I was thinking about the same, this might work well.

I’d see how well it works with no/turned off fan and turned down tdp first before committing to that though XD. A 7480hs capped at 12w (with a lot of idling much lower of course) is still quite a lot of performance and may be doable with the stock heatsink.

I set my x270 to 15w boost for 2 seconds then 6w (which is about as low as it goes with those old intels) and while it gets a bit uncomfortably hot it runs fine for web browsing and media consumption. Keep in mind the heatsink in that thing is absolutely tiny so the much bigger one in the 16 with a much more efficient processor may be just fine.

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I was thinking about this as well. Performance would take a hit, no one questions that. But can you get enough performance with a passive solution for certain use cases? My gut says maybe. I doubt Framework will make an official solution, but part of the beauty of this laptop is that anyone can design and build that up. I’d love to see a community made fan-less option. There are plenty of light-workloads that don’t actually need a fan to provide good enough cooling, I’ve got my current laptop doing that.

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Certain use-cases definitely, I have a script that disables the fan and turns off all the leds on my t480s (they are all controllable which is neat) so it can keep doing it’s background tasks (moving files over a slow mobile connection for example) and not bother me when sleeping in a hotel room or something. Depending on what it does the skin temperature may go outside of legal limits but that is fixed pretty quickly once I re-enable the fan in the morning.

I see I’ve met a fellow linux enjoyer. What’s the advantage of that control in this use case, noise reduction? I like keeping the fans off because I know if they’re turning on I’m spending too much power for performance I don’t need and would rather have longer battery life.

I am sensitive to noise when sleeping but want the performance when I am not XD

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The main problem is noise, for me. I can’t stand the noise all day long.

This review says it might not be great since it’s already on the louder spectrum of similar computers.

Even a fan pinned to min?

that’s with the stock fan curves which may be a bit aggressive, but the 16 is going to have entirely different fans anyway. Also not entirely sure how that relates to the quoted text.

What I’d also like to see is the ability to set a certain TDP limit on the laptop similarly to how the steam deck works. Then it’s just a matter of finding what power limit the laptop can passively cool and capping it to that when I want the fan off. My understanding is that the steam deck tech works via the AMD protocols, which makes it fortunate that this laptop also uses AMD chips, so it should be possible.

Granted, performance wouldn’t be as high as a dedicated passive cooling solution, but you’d still have the flexibility to utilize active cooling when you want it.

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That’s also without messing with the fan curve. If we can set custom fan curves, then that limit becomes higher. The hotter the CPU is, the more efficiently it can cool with the environment, so there’s likely extra gains to be had there if you’re comfortable playing with your CPU temp.

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+1, with an extra point of if you can live with having the fan on min you get a lot more performance, the difference between no airflow and any airflow is pretty huge.

It is definitely possible but someone has to write the drivers for it.

Some quick research found that software based tdp (and other stuff) adjustment software at least for linux doesn’t support the 7000 series jet so a bios option would definitely be nice.

Long term the software options are better cause you can change the limits on the fly but until then a bios option would be really nice.

EC is open source so we can do whatever we want there.

That also raises skin temperature issues, passive designs either throttle so much the whole device won’t get too hot or have complex partially insulated setups.

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