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A Passive CPU Cooler is a CPU cooler with only a heatsink. It has no fans and is completely silent in operation. Passive CPU Cooler is also called Fanless CPU Cooler or Noiseless CPU Cooler. These Passive CPU coolers are very hard to find because they are not in popular demand and are made by a handful of companies only. Another thing is that they do not offer the same performance that you get using a normal CPU cooler with a fan, and are definitely not the choice for gamers and enthusiasts who are into overclocking their CPU for extra performance. To build a completely silent PC you need to eliminate as many fans as possible and thus you can use a passive CPU cooler for this purpose.
Good passive CPU coolers are bigger in size and you should check your computer case and motherboard dimensions before buying any such passive CPU coolers. Also, if you plan on overclocking your CPU then you should definitely stay away from the fanless CPU coolers. The main areas where these passive CPU coolers shine are in noise and the maintenance department. First of all, they are completely silent in operation (0dBA noise), and secondly, they do not require any maintenance. It is because they do not have any moving parts that can generate noise. This means you do not have to worry about cleaning the CPU cooler fan or worry about its performance in the long run. There are very few passive CPU coolers available in the market, because of their much lesser demand, and finding a fanless CPU cooler does become a very tiring and frustrating task. So, to help you out on this, here I am going to list down the best passive CPU coolers that you can get for building a super silent PC.
Advantages of Passive CPU Coolers
- Silent Operation (0dB noise)
- No Vibrations
- No Dust accumulation
- No Maintenance required
- No power consumption
- Best Passive Power Supply for Building a Silent PC
- Best Quiet CPU Coolers with Silent Fan for Silent PC
- Best Budget CPU Coolers under 50 Dollars for Intel & AMD CPUs
- Best Passive Graphics Cards for Gaming and Work
Important Tip: You must use good quality aftermarket thermal paste for these passive CPU coolers for maximum heat transfer and cooling performance.
Best Passive CPU Coolers for Intel & AMD CPUs
Here are the best passive CPU coolers that are available in the market for building a quiet PC or an HTPC.
[Good Fanless Cooling Performance, Supports Optional Fan, Good RAM Clearance]
Noctua NH-P1 is the first passive CPU Cooler from Noctua for building a completely fanless system with zero noise. The CPU Cooler has a little unconventional design because its heatsink does not have the traditional fin array structure with a large number of fins densely packed together but has large rectangular plates with rectangular holes. These large rectangular plates are connected by six copper heatpipes. The CPU Cooler is mainly built for fanless operation but to increase the performance you can add an ultra-quiet Noctua NF-A12x25 120mm Fan to it using the clips provided with the Cooler. In a demo conducted by Noctua, Noctua NH-P1 handled the power-hungry Intel Core i9-11900K running Prime95 at more than 3.6GHz reaching temperatures in the range of 93 to 100 degrees Celsius, which I think is quite a commendable result.
Noctua NH-P1 Passive CPU Cooler is 158mm tall and 154mm which are pretty decent figures in terms of clearance. It offers 100% RAM clearance on LGA1200 and AM4 Socket motherboards while it does hang over the RAM on LGA2066 Socket motherboards so that RAM height should not exceed 45mm on these motherboards. The CPU Cooler supports a large range of Intel and AMD sockets and the SecuFirm2+ Torx-based multi-socket mounting system makes the installation a breeze. This CPU Cooler is best suited for the mainstream to mid-range Intel and AMD processors like Intel Core i5 series & AMD Ryzen 5 series but you should not overclock them manually to avoid overheating and throttling.
|Noctua NH-P1 Passive CPU Cooler Specifications|
|CPU Socket Supported||Intel LGA2066, LGA2011-0 & LGA2011-3 (Square ILM), LGA1200, LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1151, LGA1150 & AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1, FM2, FM2+ (backplate required), AM4|
|Heat Pipes||6 Copper Heatpipes|
|CPU TDP Support||Not Disclosed (NSPR = 42)|
NoFan CR-80EH is a very unique looking CPU cooler and is shaped like a bucket. The CPU cooler is made of copper and has a large number of very thin heat pipes known as ICE pipes. The idea here is to aim for a larger surface area and dissipate as much heat to the surroundings.
NoFan CR-80EHfanless CPU cooler is compatible with almost all the popular CPU Sockets and supports CPUs having up to 80W TDP. The cooler is only 113mm tall but is a bit wider at 155mm. If you have a micro-ATX or mini-ITX motherboard then you have to make sure that the cooler does not interfere with your RAM slots and graphics card slot. I strongly advise using low profile RAM with passive CPU coolers. The heatsink weighs at 300gm and is not heavy at all. The CPU cooler comes with its thermal paste and mounting kit for Intel & AMD CPUs. Also, it is very affordable and delivers good performance as long as you use <80W TDP CPU and do not plan on doing overclocking or anything fishy.
|NoFan CR-80EH Copper Passive CPU Cooler Specifications|
|CPU Socket Supported||Intel LGA 1150 / 1151 / 1155 / 1156 and AMD AM4 / AM3+ / AM3 / AM2+ / AM2 / FM1 / FM2 / FM2+|
|Heat Pipes||No, (ICE Pipes)|
|CPU TDP Support||Up to 80W|
This is a huge and monstrous passive CPU Cooler from SilverStone. The CPU cooler has got large aluminum heatsink and consists of 6 heatpipes for better transfer and dissipation of heat. The base of the cooler is made of pure copper for faster transfer of heat to the heatpipes. It supports all the popular CPU Sockets from both Intel and AMD. This fanless CPU cooler can support even the high-end processors that include top-of-the-line Intel Core i7 processors. It can support CPUs up to 95W TDP with no case fans and 150W TDP CPUs with one 120mm case fan (>900 rpm). You can also mount a 120mm fan on it for CPUs having greater than 150W TDP.
Heligon HE02 CPU Cooler stands at 160mm tall and is 170mm wide. Due to its larger form factor, you should have an ATX form factor motherboard and a bigger case to fit this thing perfectly. Also, it is recommended to use low profile RAM with this enormous CPU cooler. Due to its asymmetrical design, you can mount this CPU cooler in the position of your choice depending on your motherboard design, so that it won’t block your PCI-Ex16 graphics card slot or RAM slots. The cooler weighs at 1KG (approx.) and you can get it for under 100 dollars. So, if you are looking for a high-performance passive CPU cooler and a big enough case then you should go for it. The cooler comes with all the required mounting brackets/kits and thermal paste. Recommended by me.
|SilverStone Heligon HE02 CPU Cooler Specifications|
|CPU Socket Supported||Intel Socket LGA775/115X/1366/2011/2011-v3/2066 and AMD AM2/AM3/AM4/FM1/FM2 (V2)|
|Heat Pipes||Yes, 6 heat pipes|
|CPU TDP Support||95W (Fanless) / 150W (with 120mm fan > 900 RPM in case), over 150W with 120mm fan on top|
[Affordable, Good Performance, AM4 Compatible]
DEEPCOOL Lucifer K2 Gamer Storm is a budget CPU cooler that is capable of providing fanless cooling to CPUs having up to 130W TDP, given that your case has good airflow in the first place. This is the improved version of the Lucifer V2 CPU Cooler from Deepcool. The CPU cooler comes with a pretty big aluminum heatsink with six copper heatpipes and a polished copper base for better heat dissipation. It has a width of 131.5mm but is a bit on the taller side with a height of 163mm. The CPU cooler is compatible with a wide range of Intel and AMD sockets, including AM4.
The CPU cooler comes with a slim 120mm PWM fan having a width of 20mm only, which is 5mm less than of standard 120mm PC fan. It spins at speed of 600 – 1800 RPM but does get noisier at full speed (32.4dBA). The CPU cooler also offers a good amount of RAM clearance and does not block your first RAM slot on most of the motherboards. You can fit low-profile RAM easily on all your DIMM slots without having to worry about clearance or compatibility. The installation is pretty easy and not that difficult. Even though it has been advertised to support 130W TDP CPUs passively, I would still advise you to use a CPU with up to 65W TDP with this cooler in fanless operation. However, with the fan installed, you can use up to 130W TDP CPUs with this CPU cooler.
|DEEPCOOL Lucifer K2 Gamer Storm CPU Cooler Specifications|
|CPU Socket Supported||Intel LGA20XX / LGA1366 / LGA115X / LGA775 and AMD AM4 / AM3+ / AM3 / AM2+ / AM2 / FM2+ / FM2/FM1|
|Heat Pipes||6 Heatpipes|
|CPU TDP Support||Up to 130W|
NoFan CR-95C Black Pearl is a high-end Passive CPU Cooler and is the bigger brother of the NoFan CR-80EH CPU Cooler mentioned above. This is again a massive heatsink but it is cylindrical having a diameter of 180mm and a height of 148mm. You should be very careful when buying this fanless CPU cooler because of a lack of clearance for other components and for the PC case itself. It consists of four heatpipes and 160 thin ICE Pipes for maximum heat dissipation to the surroundings.
The cooler supports all the major Intel and AMD Sockets and CPUs up to 95W TDP. It is made of pure copper and aluminum with a copper base. The performance of this CPU Cooler is good and it can support Intel Core i7 processors without any issues. However, do not ever think of overclocking with this passive CPU cooler. The cooler weighs around 800 grams and the package comes with all the required mounting brackets /plates and thermal grease. If you have a small form factor motherboard then it may block your first VGA slot for the graphics card. Also, you have to use low profile RAM with this huge passive CPU cooler. Overall, a good fanless CPU cooler that delivers but requires tons of space in your computer case.
|NoFan CR-95C Black Pearl CPU Cooler Specifications|
|CPU Socket Supported||Intel LGA 1150 / 1151 / 1155 / 1156 / 775and AMD AM3+ / AM3 / AM2+ / AM2 / FM1 / FM2 / FM2+|
|Heat Pipes||Yes, 4 Heatpipes & IcePipes|
|Cooler Width||180mm (Diameter)|
|CPU TDP Support||95W|
Zalman FX100 is a high-quality fanless CPU cooler that comes with a large Hexadegron heatsink and ten heatpipes. This is quite a good-looking CPU cooler and it resembles a cube-like shape. It is made of copper and aluminum and has got a black pearl nickel plated finish. The cooler supports both Intel and AMD Sockets and up to 95W CPUs. With an optional 92mmfan (Zalman LED Fan ZM-F2Q(BL) at 650rpm) it can support higher 130W CPUs but do not advise that. The heat-sink weighs 770g which is pretty reasonable considering its size and quality.
The design of the heatsink is practical and it poses less hindrance or interference to your RAM slots or for other components. The CPU cooler is 157mm tall and comes bundled with all the necessary mounting plates, thermal compound, and a well-detailed user manual for seamless installation.
|Zalman FX100 Fanless CPU Cooler Specifications|
|CPU Socket Supported||Intel Socket LGA 2011/1366/1150/1155/1156/775, AMD Socket FM2/FM1/AM3+/AM3/AM2+/AM2|
|Heat Pipes||Yes, 10 Heat Pipes|
|CPU TDP Support||95W|
Low Profile Passive CPU Coolers [for Lower TDP CPUs]
Here are the top low profile passive CPU coolers or heatsinks for low-power Intel and AMD CPUs having TDP up to 35W.
A simple aluminum fins heatsink from the Arctic for low-power Intel CPUs having a TDP of 35W. It can support CPUs up to 47 Watts TDP but it is recommended for 35W CPUs only to avoid thermal throttling during longer operations. It comes with pre-applied MX-2 thermal paste and the cooler is very easy to install. It is great for HTPC and Silent PCs for regular work. It supports 35W CPUs that include Core i7-8700T, Core i5-8600T, Core i5-8500T, Core i3-8300T, and other T series Core processors.
|Arctic Alpine 11 Passive CPU Cooler Specifications|
|CPU Socket Supported||Intel LGA 1151 / 1150 / 1155 / 1156|
|CPU TDP Support||47W|
This is a low profile passive CPU cooler for AMD AM4 Socket CPUs having a maximum TDP of 35 Watts. It is a rectangular aluminum heatsink with Black Anodising for improving heat dissipation. This passive heatsink cooler comes with a pre-applied MX-2 thermal compound and supports 35W TDP AMD processors that include AMD Ryzen 3 2200GE, and Ryzen 5 2400GE. It comes with an installation kit and is very to install. It is a great passive cooler for AMD AM4 Socket based silent PCs and HTPC.
|Arctic Alpine AM4 Passive CPU Cooler Specifications|
|CPU Socket Supported||AMD AM4|
|CPU TDP Support||35W|
- Best RGB CPU Coolers for Intel & AMD CPUs
- Best Low Profile CPU Coolers for Mini-ITX Cases or Motherboards
- Best Liquid CPU Coolers for Overclocking and Gaming
Passive CPU Coolers do help you to build a silent PC for users who prefer a quiet environment. But they can be difficult to find and occupy a chunk of space in your case. Also, they can be pretty hard to install because their big size does pose interference or clearance issues with other components and PC cases. But if you can handle these issues then you will be rewarded with a completely silent operation from these fanless CPU coolers. For any doubts and suggestions, please leave a comment below.