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Thread: Recommendations for fanless/passive-cooled motherboard

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    Question Recommendations for fanless/passive-cooled motherboard

    Hi all,

    I seem to have amassed a motley crew of second hard hardware which performs a variety of functions (e.g. NAS, router), all of it is as it came from the factory with noisy fans, and I think it's time to do something about it. I have been looking at rebuilding it all into one x86 based platform in something like the SilverStone DS380B case. However I'm not sure what to do about the motherboard/CPU platform - I'm aware there are a range of passive cooling solutions for CPU's, but I doubt they would fit in a case such as the DS380B. Equally there are motherboards such as the Avoton based SuperMicro A2SDI-4C-HLN4F which San used to sell but I can't find right now - a bit pricey and not a very powerful CPU, but fanless by design with very low TDP.

    I'm really just beginning to research this area - to be clear this won't be a gaming PC and is unlikely to ever sport a GPU - but it will run a few VM's, and needs to run 24/7, and be as quiet as possible.

    Any thoughts, ideas or recommendations appreciated!

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    Senior Member Pob255's Avatar
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    Re: Recommendations for fanless/passive-cooled motherboard

    e just looked at the manual https://www.silverstonetek.com/downl...380-Manual.pdf pg16 max cpu cooler height is 57mm although it does say you can fit a silverstone TD03 120mm all-in-one liquid cooler

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    Re: Recommendations for fanless/passive-cooled motherboard

    Thank you for this - really helpful. All my kit has been fan cooled for forgive my naivety - how quiet (or loud) is a liquid cooling solution? I would have thought virtually silent, but I have never looked into them. I'll go and look up the TD03 and come back to this thread.

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    Re: Recommendations for fanless/passive-cooled motherboard

    If you go AM4, then there should be an option in the BIOS to lower the TDP of the CPU. That still makes passive cooling hard, though a Noctua low profile AM4 cooler with the BIOS fan controls set to really low RPM should stop it thermal throttling with almost no noise. You might get away with removing the fan entirely, depends on case airflow though and I wouldn't want to put money on that.

    I've run a 3200G APU + Noctua heatsink in a 1U case with awful airflow (I had to 3D print a fan duct and blow air from the side) and it was actually pretty good for temperatures.

    Bit of a minefield of choice though. An Athlon 3000G might be good enough for you if you can manage with only 2 threads, but that and the 3200G/3400G won't work on a B550 motherboard so you need to go B450. None of those do ECC ram if that matters to you.

    A 4350G or better (4750G if you can afford it) should be lower power as they are 7nm silicon and even support ECC on an Asrock or ASUS motherboard (which I always like on a server, not that most people bother), but you can only buy them on dodgy import or as part of an Ebuyer pre-built system.

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    Re: Recommendations for fanless/passive-cooled motherboard

    Thank you both for your help - @Pob255 if you get thanked twice, my first post got stuck in moderation.

    I've learned about water cooling and how that works now so I know that's not going to be a silent solution, though I believe it will be quieter than fan based cooling (please correct me if I'm wrong).

    @DanceswithUnix - really appreciate your input - I think perhaps my fanless goals are a bit lofty - but I've been continually impressed by the AM4 platform - I don't own one (yet) but every time I see the benchmarks and performance metrics (simple stats like Passmark's CPUmark), I note how amazing they are for little money. I think I need to spend more time researching the AM4 platform - perhaps my compromise will be a low TDP CPU, with a fan such as the Noctua as you say - that has come up in several searches.

    I'm not sure about ECC right now - I have a N54L Microserver as part of this setup, and the fans in it aren't bad, but could be better - that ran for years with FreeNAS, and I never had any problems even after I put 16GB of non-ECC RAM into it (it was only ever qualified for 8GB). I then had some detected bitrot on one of my ZFS volumes and that scared me - so I hit eBay and managed to find 16GB ECC RAM which had been tested on one of the prominent boards covering the N54L in its heyday - that's been rock solid ever since, but suffice to say I got away without ECC for years.

    I suppose this in itself warrants another thread, but if you come back to this - thoughts - for a 24/7 platform such as I'm hoping to build (for home server use), would you consider ECC vital, or a nice to have?

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