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The NoFan CR-95C Copper is the first heatsink to actually pass our open platform cooler test without any assistance from a fan. Unlike the Thermalright HR-02 Macho or SilverStone Heligon HE02, it was designed from the ground up as a purely passive heatsink. There is no safety net, no fan mount option, and it doesn't need one so long as the processor with which it's paired doesn't exceed the specified 95W TDP limit. We've encountered several "fanless" products that didn't live up to their promises but the CR-95C passes muster with plenty of headroom.
It is a massive cooler though so there are some complications due to its size. It renders the top expansion slot on most motherboards unusable though this is not as big of an issue as it was in days past. The most commonly required expansion slot, PCI-E 16x (for discrete GPUs), is now typically placed in the second position and many boards have more than one. The fact that it hangs over multiple memory slots is a greater problem as many DIMMs are now outfitted with oversized heatspreaders compatible RAM must be no taller than 34 mm (almost bare). The cooler may also extend past the top edge of the motherboard as well so a little clearance is required on that side as well.
It's important to note that the entire genre of passive coolers, the CR-95C
included, is encumbered with some significant disadvantages. A heatsink half
the size and a third of the price can operate more efficiently with a fan running
at very low, inaudible speed. Furthermore, it can get rather toasty under high
extended load so some internal case airflow is may be needed, which defeats
the purpose of having a fanless cooler in the first place. Fanless CPU heatsinks
should really only be considered by those very sensitive to noise and hobbyists
who simply want something new or interesting to add to their rigs. For them,
the NoFan CR-95C Copper is a solid offering and superior to any previous fanless
solution we've tested.
We have some suggestions on how to achieve completely silent operation with
- Use a case with wide open panels for ease of convection airflow.
- If a discrete VGA card is used, choose one with a modest TDP and passive
- Only SSD local storage; use network storage system to keep the noise of
mechanical hard drives away.
- Make use of temperature monitoring utilities to ensure things stay cool
enough, especially as you learn the system's limits.
- Finally, consider adding an exhaust case fan near the CPU heatsink that
you can turn on if necessary (with speed control, of course) during really
hot weather or extended high CPU stress operations.
NoFan has created in the CR-95C an effective solution to what is obviously
a bit of a niche problem. That niche being the extreme edge of silent computing,
we can't help but commend them.
Much thanks to SPCR reader Mike Willis for donating this CR-95C Copper heatsink sample for us to review.
NoFan CR-95C is Recommended by SPCR
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SPCR Articles of Related Interest:
SilverStone Argon AR01 & AR03 CPU Coolers
Noctua NH-U12S Slim Tower Heatsink
Cooler Master Seidon 240M: Dual Fan Liquid CPU Cooler
Phanteks PH-TC12DX CPU Cooler
Phanteks PH-TC90LS Mini Cooler
Thermalright TRUE Spirit 120M CPU Heatsink
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this article in the SPCR forums.
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