We all love fast hardware -- burly graphics cards, oodles of RAM, multi-core processors -- but one of the unsung heros is cooling. Crucial as it may be to a stable running machine, cooling isn't always glamorous or sexy. That being the case, it was refreshing to see a few vendors showing off new fan designs, including Zalman, which brought to CES a crop of cooling (and case) products.
Fans, fans, and more fans (and a fanless power supply)
Things can get crazy at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), but one company that kept its cool is Enermax. We mean that literally, folks. Gordon stopped by Enermax's booth at the show to see what the company brought to show off, and the answer is fans. Lots of fans, some of which lit up and reacted to sound. On the flip side, Enermax also brought with it a fanless power supply that's 80 Plus Platinum certified.
Remember the active noise-cancelling fans Noctua promised to have on display at the Computex exhibition last week? Well, said cooling technology was indeed available, along with new information about pricing and release info for the products. So does Rotosub's ANC technology actually quiet things down as much as promised? Noctua's posted a video of the noise-cancelling fan in action so that you can judge for yourself.
Running a silent PC isn't possible if you've got a rig that generates a lot of heat -- at least, it isn't possible today. The cooling specialists at Noctua have announced that they've teamed up with a company called RotoSub to create the world's first fan with Active Noise Cancellation, and they plan on showing off a working prototype of a Noctua NF-F12 running the tech at Computex next week.
Intel's Ultrabook initiative might have been met with early skepticism, some of which still remains, but by and large, the light and powerful form factor is proving popular. It's also creating demand for small size components that can be squeezed into a pancake thin frame. As time goes on, expect to see Ultrabook models start to adopt 4mm micro fans that were originally developed for the handset market.
Case fans are in the running for the least appreciated PC component. They're not often glamorous or sexy, but without fans, your big and burly desktop system is little more than a vertical oven for your hot running PC parts. Even if fans don't get the attention they perhaps deserve, there's still some innovation going on by those who build them, like BitFenix, which just announced its new Spectre Pro Performance Fan Series.
Case fans typically aren't all that exciting. Some sport funky fan blades, other boast LED lights, and all of them are shrouded in plastic with screw holes to attach to your case. You have fans that are designed to push more air than a hurricane, and others built with low acoustics in mind. But what makes the new USB Rubber Vegas (U.R.Vegas) fan line from Enermax so unique is how you mount the fans and move them around.
Noctua has wowed us before with its coolers: Both the NH-U12P (August 2009) and NH-D14 (April 2010) impressed us with top-tier performance. The NH-C14, which features a perpendicular cooling-fin stack and two fans, is larger than the former but smaller than the 2 pounds, 12 ounces of the latter.
I’m debating switching to water-cooling. I was initially worried about maintenance or the unit leaking, but those issues seem to be a thing of the past. What happens, however, if the fan stops working on the radiator? Is the fan difficult to replace? Would you have to replace the entire unit? Anytime I see reviews or ads, they never specify whether the fan is replaceable or permanently attached to the radiator unit.