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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Best Fanless Laptop – Linux Hint

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Ever been in a meeting at work or hunkered down to get a bit of writing done in your favorite coffee house haunt when all of a sudden your laptop starts practically screaming at you? Same. It’s incredibly annoying and distracting for both you and those around you.

The noise is of course the fans in your laptop trying to keep thermals under control, but they can be so obnoxiously loud that they become a real problem. Before you know it, you’re left out of important company rendezvous, and you’re taking your coffee to go.

Well, to make sure you never have to suffer this fate, I’ve done the research, and I’ve composed this list of the five best fanless laptops around.


Reviews of Fanless Laptop

Microsoft Surface Pro X

Microsoft Surface Pro X – 13' Touch-Screen – Microsoft SQ1 - 8GB Memory - 256GB Solid State Drive – WIFI + 4G LTE – Matte Black with Surface Pro X Signature Keyboard with Slim Pen, QWZ-00001

The Surface Pro X has Microsoft’s proprietary SQ1 CPU at its heart, a super-efficient octa-core processor capable of supporting parallelizing workflows just as well as any normal laptop.

The 3GHz clock speed ensures all applications run seamlessly, improving productivity, as your thought process won’t be inhibited by system lag.

Arriving with 16GB of RAM, the Pro X is insanely responsive. As soon as you think it, this laptop can make it happen, quick as a flash, saving valuable seconds in time-sensitive situations.

It also comes with 512GB SSD storage for lightning-fast file acquisition, amounting to a streamlined computing experience on all fronts. Oh, and did I mention that it has a 15-hour battery life?

Pros

  • 1.7lbs and 7.3mm – Highly portable.
  • SQ1 CPU – Supports multitasking.
  • 16GB RAM – Snappy system performance.
  • 512GB SSD – Large, fast storage.

Cons

  • Aftermarket Purchases – Keyboard sold separately.
  • Price – Premium price for a premium product.

HP Chromebook 15

HP Chromebook 15 - 15.6' Full HD Touchscreen Intel Core i3-8130U Intel UHD Graphics 620 4GB SDRAM 128GB eMMC Audio by B&O Ceramic White/Cloud Blue Backlit Keyboard 15-de0517wm (Renewed)

At 15.6 inches, the HP Chromebook 15 boasts one of the largest displays of any other fanless wonder on the market.

Marry that with the 1080p IPS technology, and you’ve got yourself a lovely bit of screen candy indeed. If you deal with a lot of data-dense spreadsheets, it can save you a headache or two…or six.

Doing the heavy lifting, we have the Intel Core i3-8130U, which is a hyperthreaded, dual-core processor with a 3.4GHz max clock speed.

It’s not the most stacked chip in the fanless world, but the four threads enable light-to-medium multitasking, so you can load up on tabs, play music, and do your work all at the same time.

The 4GB RAM is suitable for general computing, nothing too intensive like gaming, but the 128GB SSD is very efficient in terms of writing and reading files, ensuring you get practical use of the full 13-hour battery life.

Pros

  • 15.6” Display – Easy on the eyes.
  • 3.4GHz Boost Clock Speed – Snappy processing.
  • SSD Storage – Immediate access to saved data.
  • Hyperthreaded CPU Cores – Doesn’t mind a spot of multitasking.
  • 13-Hour Battery Life – All-day power.

Cons

  • i3-8130U – Not a very powerful CPU
  • 4GB RAM – 8 would be better.

ASUS VivoBook L203MA

ASUS VivoBook L203MA Ultra-Thin Laptop, Intel Celeron N4000 Processor, 4GB LPDDR4, 64GB eMMC, 11.6” HD, USB-C, Windows 10 in S Mode (Switchable to Pro), L203MA-DS04, One Year of Microsoft Office 365

If you’re looking to go fanless on a budget, the VivoBook is one of the best places to start.

It’s an Intel Celeron N4000 CPU at the heart of operations in this unit. The dual-core microarchitecture limits functionality to basic computing, but as long as you don’t overload it, it’s a very quick CPU, as the 4GB RAM helps to keep things responsive.

You get 64GB of eMMC flash storage, which is actually faster than SSD with small files such as MP3s and Word documents, but it’s not quite as on the ball with large files, so expect slightly extended read and write times.

It’s not the most powerful machine, but it’s tiny, robust, and completely silent.

Pros

  • eMMC – Fast storage for small files.
  • 11.6” – Fits into a small bag.
  • Price – You won’t find a better deal.

Cons

  • eMMC – Lacks efficiency with large files.
  • Celeron N4000 – Only suitable for basic computing.

HP Elite X2 G4

HP Elite X2 G4 13-Inch Tablet Computer and Docking Station Bundle (i5-8265U, 512GB SSD, 8GB RAM) Windows 10

Granted, there are smaller fanless laptops, but in the Elite X2 G4, HP has done a better job of condensing functionality down to a portable scale than competitors.

Loaded with the hyperthreaded, quad-core i5-8265U, this silent machine can support complex multitasking, so don’t worry about loading it up with multiple windows. It can take it!

Part of the reason it’s so fantastic in terms of parallelizing workflows is the 8GB RAM, as it irons out any possible kinks in real-time performance — nothing but smooth sailing, folks!

It also comes with 512GB of SSD storage, cutting out any lag on the long-term memory side of things too, meaning you can save and open apps and files at breakneck speed in complete silence, making it perfect for busy professionals working in public spaces.

Pros

  • i5-8365U – Fantastic multitasker.
  • 8GB RAM – Lag-free computing.
  • 512GB SSD – Fast and spacious storage.
  • 13” – Nice and portable.
  • Keyboard and Smart Pen Included – No aftermarket purchases necessary.

Cons

  • Price – It’s pricey for a small laptop.

HP Elite X2 G4 13-Inch Tablet Computer and Docking Station Bundle (i5-8265U, 512GB SSD, 8GB RAM) Windows 10

  • This Bundle Includes: HP Elite x2 G4 Tablet Compuer, HP Clickpad Backlit Collaboration Travel Keyboard, HP USB-C Dock G5, HP Wacom AES 2.0 Pen with App Launch Button G3, Windows 10 (64-Bit) Operating System
  • Intel Core i5-8365U Processor (6M Cache, up to 4.10 GHz) ; UHD Graphics 620
  • 512 GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD ; 8 GB LPDDR3-2133 SDRAM
  • AX200 Wi-Fi 6 (2×2) + Bluetooth 5
  • 13-Inch Ultra-slim Touchscreen Display (1920 x 1280) w/ HP Sure View

2020 Apple MacBook Air

2020 Apple MacBook Air Laptop: Apple M1 Chip, 13” Retina Display, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD Storage, Backlit Keyboard, FaceTime HD Camera, Touch ID. Works with iPhone/iPad; Gold

Featuring Apple’s most recent accomplishment, the M1 CPU with 8 super-efficient cores, this 2020 MacBook Air was a serious contender for my top spot.

Arriving with 8GB of unified RAM, it’s primed and ready to streamline your computing life, no matter how intensive it becomes, allowing you to cram more screen time into your busy schedule.

The 512GB SSD saves you even more time when firing up an app or when you need to save a large file, and the 13” Retina Display is nothing short of breathtaking!

Pros

  • M1 CPU – Has the fastest cores in the world.
  • 512GB SSD – Mega fast read and write speeds.
  • 8GB Unified RAM – Zero perceivable latency.
  • Build Quality – Second to none.
  • Retina Display – Pixel-density provides ultimate clarity.

Cons

  • Compatibility – The M1 chip is new, so it won’t be compatible with every app.
  • Grainy Camera – You’d expect better of a 2020 laptop.

Best Fanless Laptop: A Buyer’s Guide

What makes a good fanless laptop? It’s not such an easy question to answer. Of course, we understand the benefits of going fanless…. silent performance, longer battery life, extended service life, and enhanced portability, but all fanless laptops have these features, so what makes one better than the other?

Well, the trick is to compare them on their supposed weaknesses — we’re talking CPU power, thermals, RAM, storage drive, and display size.

It’s understood that choosing a fanless laptop means you have to sacrifice a certain degree of performance, which means the best of the bunch are the ones that minimize said sacrifice.


CPU

You can think of your laptop’s CPU (central processing unit) as its brain. It’s in charge of all problem solving and instruction execution.

The cores and threads of a CPU determine what a computer is capable of. For example, a CPU with lots of cores but no threads will be great for undertaking computational tasks one at a time, while a CPU with lots of threads can support heavy multitasking.

The only issue is that powerful CPUs require lots of cooling, so they’re rare in fanless laptops, but that’s not to say they don’t exist.

If you want your fanless laptop to be capable of great things, look for one with an Intel i5 or i7 CPU, or if you’re more of a Mac person, Apple’s new M1 chip is an absolute powerhouse of a processor.

On the other hand, if you’re okay with basic functionality, you can save a few bucks and settle on an i3, Core M, or Celeron CPU.

Thermals

There are a couple of reasons fanless laptops don’t immediately burst into flames when you load up a demanding application.

The first reason is known as passive cooling. Passive cooling is based on putting certain limitations on hardware in order to keep it from reaching beyond a predetermined temperature.

The second reason is that the hardware is physically connected to cooling systems such as heat sinks and copper heat pipes that literally ferry the heat away from the key components of your laptop, such as the CPU.

The efficacy of cooling systems varies from laptop to laptop. The better they are, the fewer limitations there will be on the CPU, leading to better performance.

RAM

Simply put, RAM is the short-term memory of the computer. It’s the component that holds all the relevant information for whatever computing you’re doing in the present. It provides the CPU with super-fast access to essential data to smooth out and speed up performance.

Lots of RAM also helps with multitasking, so if you need to run lots of software, hoard multiple tabs, and perhaps listen to a bop or two, juiced RAM is important; 8GB should do the trick.

If you don’t need all the power in the world, 4GB of RAM should be sufficient, and will save you a fair bit of money — perfect!

Storage

The storage of your laptop holds all the data that’s not required for real-time computing, i.e. applications, files, and essential system information — it’s basically a computer’s long-term memory.

There are two main kinds of storage: HDD and SSD. HDD is the older technology. As it uses moving parts, it’s not so energy efficient, and it often makes a noise…not what you want in a supposedly silent laptop.

SSD doesn’t use any moving parts, it’s energy-efficient, quiet, and it’s a hell of a lot faster than its predecessor, meaning your CPU can access and imprint data more efficiently.

The one drawback to SSD storage is that it costs a whole lot more per GB than HDD, and speaking of capacity, how much storage space are you going to need?

It all depends on what you’ll be using your laptop for, really. If you’re going to download lots of apps and save file after file, I’d recommend choosing something with 512GB – 1TB. Otherwise, save some money and settle for 16GB.

Display

Without the bulky fans, laptops tend to be much lighter and thinner, which is great, because that means you can choose one with a larger display without sacrificing so much portability.

Battery Life

Okay, so I know I said that all fanless laptops have improved battery lives on account of there being no fans to eat up all their power, but charge duration can still differ dramatically from unit to unit.

If you’re constantly on the go and out of the house for long periods of time, I wouldn’t settle for anything less than a 12-hour battery life.


Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s wrap things up with a brief fanless laptop FAQ section.

Are fanless laptops any good?

While fanless laptops usually have limited power due to their passive cooling requirements, they make up for it in other ways, such as silent performance, longer battery lives, energy efficiency, and enhanced portability.

Do fanless laptops last longer?

Generally speaking, yes, fanless laptops last longer because their components don’t get as hot, and with zero airflow, little to no debris can work its way into the system, thus extending the service life.

Are fanless laptops good for gaming?

No, fanless laptops aren’t great for gaming. A smooth and immersive gaming experience relies on hardware that can be pushed to its limit, so the low voltage, low power components of a fanless laptop aren’t really up to the job. Even older titles will likely cause thermal throttling, which will result in laggy gameplay.

How do you cool a fanless laptop?

If you need to cool your fanless laptop, place it on a cold, dry surface, or better yet, wrap up a bag of frozen peas in a towel and place it on the hot spot. Just make sure it doesn’t get wet.

Final Thoughts

The Microsoft Surface Pro X has my number one spot here today, but the 2020 Apple MacBook Air certainly gives Microsoft a run for their money. If only we could take Apple’s M1 chip and put it in the Surface Pro X; that would be one formidable, Frankensteinian machine!

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