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Most modern laptops have very noisy fans. I am looking for a quiet laptop or a small stationary computer which has all its hardware built in a display.

Most tasks will be PDF/docs processing, real-time audio processing, web-surfing and Skype video chats. Certainly, there is no any fan-less model today; but maybe some of the existed laptops do not switch on their fans so often or implement different solutions? For example, an iPad has no fan at all and it is fast enough for my needs, but it has no normal operating system, so I can't use it for anything but audio chats and web-surfing.

Or maybe I can buy a laptop and tweak it to make it absolutely noiseless? Can you recommend any solution please?

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migrated from serverfault.com Feb 11 '11 at 14:59

This question came from our site for professional system and network administrators.

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Just to throw this out there, I never hear noise from my Lenovo T500 work laptop. Right now it is actually silent. The most noise I have is me pressing buttons on my padded keyboard. –  David Feb 11 '11 at 15:32
    
Have to agree, the Lenovos I have encountered are (un?)noticeably quiet. –  Linker3000 Feb 11 '11 at 15:53
    
@Linker, David: do you have it with NVidia GPU or with Intel one? –  psihodelia Feb 11 '11 at 16:00
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Get a quiet lap. –  Tom O'Connor Feb 11 '11 at 16:30
    
@Tom: what model? –  psihodelia Feb 11 '11 at 16:43

3 Answers 3

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Yes you can get fanless notebooks (think Netbook) -- Will it be powerful enough to do your "real-time audio processing"? That's hard to say, as I'm not you and I don't know exactly what you like to do. :)

My portable computer is a "fanless" UMPC with a hyperthreaded Intel Atom in it. It runs Windows 7 Ultimate (with Aero), and constantly surprises me how well it performs with only 1GB of RAM and a 32GB SSD.

I can surf the web, watch YouTube, use MS Office, etc. I just generally stick to one or two major tasks at a time on it and it's plenty quick.

I think the problem you're facing is that regardless of when notebooks are built, they are (generally) built with the 'current' generation of processors, and because of that they (the processors) are always at a size/design that requires active cooling. Liquid cooling doesn't work well for portable computers, so they have to use a fan.

It's not until years later that the equivalent power can be miniaturized enough to run cool enough to survive on passive cooling (no fans, liquid, etc.), but by then the notebook manufactures have moved on to the next generation of CPUs, which still require active cooling.

Perhaps get a notebook, and underclock it so it doesn't get as hot?

If it doesn't NEED to be portable then there are many different manufacturers out there creating fanless PCs that are plenty powerful, you'll just have to search them out, find one(s) you like and locate a way to buy them (preferably from a place that will let you play with one for a bit before buying).

Beyond that, shopping suggestions/recommendations are against the SuperUser rules.

Hope that helps...

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If your CPU is hot enough to need cooling, and you've tweaked something to reduce that, you'd put it at risk. The only safe tweak I can think of would be a clock-speed reduction, so the the CPU would heat less, if you - and the application - can tolerate the performance reduction, lower video quality in Skype, e.g. Some laptops' energy saving profiles can specify a lower clock rate when running off their battery - that would be the easiest way to accomplish it.

The white Macbook's fan isn't very loud when it spools up, and it's silent otherwise.

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I don't use Macs, because they provide only limited connectivity (e.g. no HDMI). –  psihodelia Feb 11 '11 at 15:55

A laptop with an SSD runs silent when the DVD drive and fan aren't running. iMacs are also very quiet as the harddrive is buried deep within.

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