The different kinds of fanless computers frequently get lumped together into one broad category. There’s a misconception that any computer without a fan is suitable for industrial use. Over time, the terms “fanless computer” and “industrial computer” have even started to be used interchangeably in some cases. The truth is that simply removing active cooling doesn’t, on its own, make a computer more suitable for industrial environments.
So, what are the different kinds of fanless computers? In our latest Tech Edge video, Hans takes you through three types of fanless hardware and explains when, and how, you might consider using them. Check out the video or read the transcript below.
Not All Fanless Computers are Created Equal
Fanless Ventless systems, like the Helix 500, have been designed by our rockstar team of engineers to cool the internal components with no passive air flow through the chassis. By removing all vent holes for passive airflow, we have significantly reduced the ability for dust and other airborne particulates to enter the chassis. This protection of the interior components brings you peace of mind knowing that the chance of failure due to particulate ingress is really very low.
Fanless Vented Computers
Other systems on the market have a fanless vented design, featuring significant open areas in the chassis walls for passive airflow. The solution of using internal passive airflow to cool the product is a viable solution, but exposes the system to the same risk as a typical fanned PC. Airborne particulates are still able to find their way into the system, reducing cooling efficiency of the components. The particulate that enters the system, essentially acts as insulation, and that’s not so great. Ultimately, this ends up creating reduced system performance until someone cleans the system, resulting in downtime.
However, there are situations when fanless vented systems make sense. If your application requires the use of a high powered graphics card consuming hundreds of watts of power, having airflow through the chassis will likely be necessary to keep it cool and performing at its peak. If you’re really stepping up the wattage, the use of fans to cool the GPU or other components and avoid failures or throttled performance is usually going to become necessary.
Fanless Hybrid Cooling
But “to fan or not to fan” doesn’t have to be a yes or no proposition. Fanless hybrid cooling, which is used in our Helix 600, separates components with a physical partition so some can be passively cooled, while other components, like GPUs, can be cooled using fans. This helps limit the risk of particulate ingress to the majority of the system, while still allowing you to leverage higher wattage components. It’s a best of both worlds solution for industrial environments.
Hopefully this helped shed some light on how fanless systems differ. If you still have questions, reach out to our team and we can help guide you to the right solution for your particular project.
Darek is the Communications Manager at OnLogic. His passion for both journalism and technology has led him from the newsrooms of local papers to the manufacturing floor of IBM. His background in news gathering has him always on the lookout for the latest in emerging tech and the best ways to share that information with readers. In addition to his affinity for words, Darek is a music lover, juggler and huge fan of terrible jokes.