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NoFan CR-80EH & CS-60 Fanless Cooler & Case

The combination of NoFan’s CR-80EH heatsink and CS-60 microATX case allows DIYers to easily assemble a completely fanless tower PC using any CPU with a TDP of 80W or less.

February 2, 2015 by Lawrence Lee

Product
NoFan CR-80EH Fanless CPU Cooler NoFan CS-60 microATX Case
Manufacturer
NoFan
Street Price
€50/£35 US$100/£50

As the name implies, the Korean manufacturer NoFan specializes in fanless products like heatsinks, power supplies, and cases. Two years ago, we acquired a sample of their flagship CPU cooler, which featured an interesting copper wire design we hadn’t seen before. The CR-95C was an enormous barrel-shaped heatsink with a diameter of 18 cm (just over 7 inches) that proved to be more a more effective passive cooler than anything that we’ve seen since. Today, I’m going to take a look at a smaller, more affordable version, the CR-80EH, along with a microATX case to complement it, the CS-60.

CR-80EH


NoFan CR-95C (left) vs. CR-80EH (right).

Placed side to side, the difference in size between the two coolers is striking. The older CR-95C is gigantic by comparison and is fashioned in a wider, more straightforward monster truck tire shape. The CR-80EH is smaller in every dimension, offering less than half the heat dissipation area, and has a basket-like form wider at the top than at its base. Still, the fundamentals are the same, with both products consisting of a large base, a set of copper wires that make up the bulk of the heatsink, and a single heatpipe joining the two.


The CR-80EH box.


CR-80EH package contents.

The packaging is eye-catching to say the least, with the cooler seemingly bursting out of the box. It’s a nice visual but awful for stacking/storing. The cooler itself is encapsulated in a plastic clamshell container but thankfully, it’s a two-piece unit with four release points that easily pop open. It ships with a short assembly guide, a bottle of thermal compound, and the necessary mounting hardware. The mounting clips are universal, supporting LGA115x boards in one orientation, and fitting AMD boards when flipped around.

NoFan CR-80EH: Specifications
(from the product
web page
)
Model
CR-80EH
Dimension 155 mm (Ø) x 113 mm
Weight 300g
Thermal Resistance (at 25°C ambient) Up to 80W
Material Pure Copper, Pure Aluminum
Dissipation Area 98,157 mm2
ICEPIPE 1 EA / 1.6 mm (Ø) x 19.537 mm (L)
Heatpipe 1 EA / 6 mm (Ø) x 130 mm (L)
Compatibility Intel 1150/1155/1156 – Core i5 (only 3rd Generation) / i3
AMD FM1/FM2/AM2/AM2+AM3/AM3+ – APU Series, Phenom II, Athlon II, Sempron

While the CR-80EH has a sizable 15.5 cm diameter, it stands just 11.3 cm tall and weighs 300 grams, making it shorter and lighter than the vast majority of tower heatsinks. Its limited size also constrains its cooling potential, with NoFan listing its thermal limit as 80W at an ambient temperature of 25°C. They’ve published both motherboard and processor compatibility information on their website.

CS-60


The CS-60.

When it comes to actively cooled systems, a well-designed case has to perform a balancing act, providing sufficient airflow without allowing too much noise to leak out. As a fanless PC doesn’t produce any noise (unless a mechanical hard drive is used), this all gets thrown out the window. Ventilation is everything, especially if you want to use a CPU that pushes the heatsink’s TDP limit.

The CS-60 looks sound the job but it wasn’t designed specifically as a fanless chassis. It’s actually a rebranded In Win Dragon Slayer, an older microATX tower with a fairly open design. This model looks to be identical except the logo has been swapped out and all the stock fans have been removed. You may remember the Dragon Slayer’s bigger brother, the Dragon Rider, which was a surprisingly strong performer thanks primarily to excessive ventilation and multitude of fans, including a massive 22 cm model located on the side panel. Ironically, this similar design is now being repurposed by NoFan for completely silent builds.


CS-60 accessories.

The CS-60 ships with an instruction guide, a bag of screws, four adhesive hooks for bundling/guiding cables, and a set of drive rails.

NoFan CS-60: Specifications
(from the product
web page
)
Model
Middle Tower
Motherboard Micro ATX
Dimension 180 mm (W) x 425 mm (D) x 410 mm (H)
Material SECC/0.6-0.7t
Color Black
5.25″ Bay 2 EA (External)
3.25″ Bay 4 EA (External 4 EA)
Front Terminal USB 2,0 x 2/USB 3,0 x 1/HD Audio
Expansion Slot 5 EA
NOFAN CPU Cooler Compatibility CR-100A, CR-95C

Despite limited to microATX (and smaller) boards, the CS-60 stands 41.0 cm (just over 16 inches) tall, so it could easily pass for a compact ATX tower. This is due to a fifth expansion slot and extra room at the top to better accommodate water cooling. These features only make sense when you consider that the Dragon Slayer was marketed as an enthusiast case.

PHYSICAL DETAILS & INSTALLATION: CR-80EH Cooler

The CR-80EH is composed primarily of a wide copper wide base, a single traditional 6 mm thick heatpipe, and a series of thinner copper wires referred to as “IcePipes” running vertically between the base and a plastic cover at the top. According to our measurements, its dimensions are 15.6 x 15.6 x 11.3 cm or 6.1 x 6.1 x 4.4 inches (W x L x H) and it weighs approximately 300 grams.


If you stare down into the center of the heatsink, you’ll see its only standard heatpipe, fused between the copper wires and base. A plastic shroud at the top keeps all the wires in their place, preserving the basket shape.


At the center of one of the copper wires resides an odd brass fitting that presumably joins the wire ends together into one cohesive structure. The cooler radiates outward with each wire being 1.6 mm thick and spaced 0.9 mm apart near the base and 4.2 mm apart at the top.


The base is flat and well-polished and there is visible solder between the plate and wires. To mount the heatsink, metal clips are affixed around the base and plastic fittings are used to keep the bolts in place. The motherboard is placed over it and installation is finished at the back.


The ends of the bolts are capped off on the other side with nuts. While the cooler appears large, it weighs only 300 grams, making a backplate unnecessary.


Mounted on our small heatsink test platform.


The heatsink comes close to the system memory on our LGA1155 board but it is possible to fit a standard height DIMM in the first slot without interference.


The CR-80EH left behind a thermal compound imprint that indicates reasonably good contact at the center of the processor.

PHYSICAL DETAILS: CS-60 Case

The NoFan CS-60 measures 18.0 x 42.5 x 41.0 cm or 7.1 x 16.7 x 16.1 inches (W x D x H) for a total volume of 31.4 Liters, making it reasonably compact for a microATX tower. The case is made primarily of steel with a plastic front bezel.


The front of the case is extremely well ventilated with wide-spaced grills on the bezel resembling chainmail. Front audio and USB 2.0/3.0 ports are located near the top, above a rectangular power button and blue power and HD activity LEDs. The logo near the center is also illuminated, highlighting the comical spelling discrepancy between what’s printed/stamped on their products (“NoFen”) and on their website and documentation (“NoFan”).


Much of the left side panel consists of a fine wire mesh, supplying most of the case’s fresh air. It’s home to four 120 mm fan placements complete with rubber grommets.


A 120/140 mm fan position at the top of the case provides a natural outlet for the heat radiating from the CPU area.


The interior has a relatively traditional layout with a bottom-mounted power supply and drive positions at the front. As the case is rather shallow, the drive bays are restricted to the top and bottom, leaving the center open to make more of the board accessible and allowing better airflow through the front bezel.


The CS-60 is outfitted with an additional 92 mm fan mount at the back and a 120/140 mm placement at the front. It also features tool-less mounting mechanisms for the drives and expansion slots, and water cooling holes at the top. The side panels are a bit thin but they fit incredibly snug, and vibration shouldn’t be an issue if fans and mechanical hard drives are left out of the equation.


There five holes have been placed around the motherboard tray for routing cables. A 4-pin molex is required to power the front lighting, and as the design is fairly dated, it uses an external USB 3.0 cable to connect the front ports instead of a proper internal header.


The bottom of the case is home to traditional case feet and a vent for the power supply.

ASSEMBLY

Putting together a system with the CS-60 is a fairly straightforward affair. The only real issue is an ill-fitting 2.5-inch drive mount, but overall, the interior is spacious and problem-free.


The CS-60 is narrower than most towers but it’s wide enough to accept all of NoFan’s fanless coolers. The larger CR-95C actually extends past the edge of the chassis but beveling on the perimeter of the side panel creates enough extra room.


As for the CR-80EH, it fits comfortably inside with plenty of room on all sides.


The 2.5-inch drive mount is poorly designed. The position is so tight that drives won’t fit without bending the metal tabs outward, and even then, the final result is slanted.


While it’s meant to be run fanless, the position of the plastic housing for the front LEDs could be better situated as it blocks up a good portion of the front fan placement.


Fully assembled.


Without a video card and mechanical hard drives, there aren’t many cables to tie up at the back.


There’s only 15 mm of space behind the motherboard tray but as long as the thicker cables don’t overlap, there’s sufficient room to mount the side panel.

TESTING

Larger heatsinks are tested on our
LGA1366 heatsink testing platform
, while smaller coolers tackle our
LGA1155
heatsink testing platform
. A summary of the test system and procedure follows.

Key Components in LGA1366 Heatsink Test Platform:

Key Components in LGA1155 Heatsink Test Platform:

In-Case Fanless Test Platform:

The systems are silent under the test conditions, except for the CPU cooling
fan(s).

Normally, our reference fans are used whenever possible, the measured details
of which are shown below.

Reference Noctua 140mm fan
Anechoic chamber measurements
Voltage
Speed
SPL@1m
12V
1250 RPM
28~29 dBA
9V
990 RPM
21 dBA
8V
880 RPM
18 dBA
7V
770 RPM
15~16 dBA
6V
660 RPM
13 dBA

 

Reference Nexus 120 mm fan
Anechoic chamber measurements
Voltage
Speed
SPL@1m
12V
1080 RPM
16 dBA
9V
880 RPM
13 dBA
7V
720 RPM
12 dBA

 

Reference Nexus 92 mm fan
Anechoic chamber measurements
Voltage
Speed
SPL@1m
12V
1470 RPM
17 dBA
9V
1280 RPM
14 dBA
7V
1010 RPM
12 dBA

Measurement and Analysis Tools

  • Extech 380803 AC power analyzer / data logger for measuring AC system
    power.
  • PC-based spectrum analyzer:
    SpectraPlus with ACO Pacific mic and M-Audio digital
    audio interfaces.
  • Anechoic chamber
    with ambient level of 11 dBA or lower
  • Various other tools for testing fans, as documented in our
    standard fan testing methodology
    .
  • SpeedFan,
    used to monitor the on-chip thermal sensors. The sensors are not calibrated,
    so results are not universally applicable. The hottest core reading is used.
  • Prime95,
    used to stress the CPU heavily, generating more heat than most real applications.
    All instances are used to ensure full stress.
  • CPU-Z,used to monitor the CPU speed to determine when overheating occurs.

Noise measurements are made with the fans powered from a separate, fanless system. Load testing was accomplished using Prime95 to stress the processor, and the
graph function in SpeedFan was used to ensure that the load temperature is stable
for at least ten minutes. The temperature recorded is the highest single core
reading. The stock fans were tested at various voltages to represent a good
cross-section of airflow and noise performance.

The ambient conditions during testing were 10~11 dBA and 21~23°C.

TEST RESULTS

Open Air Test Platform

We begin with a load test on our open small heatsink test platform which features an overclocked/overvolted Core i5-2400. The thermal rise above ambient is tracked over time until the temperature stabilizes or the CPU begins to throttle.

Passive Cooler Performance: Thermal Rise
(Core i5-2400 @ 3.6 GHz, 1.3V, Prime95)
Time Elapsed
NoFan CR-95C
NoFan CR-80EH
Start
4°C
5°C
1 minute
34°C
45°C
2 minutes
41°C
56°C
3 minutes
45°C
62°C
4 minutes
47°C
66°C
5 minutes
50°C
70°C
10 minutes
53°C
74°C
15 minutes
54°C
76°C
>20 minutes
54°C
78°C
Ambient noise level: 10~11 dBA

Right out of the gate, the CR-80EH is already at a 10°C disadvantage compared to its big brother, the CR-95C As time goes by, the CPU temperature increases at quicker pace as well. After all is said and done, the temperature stabilizes at 78°C above ambient — another 2°C and the CPU would throttle. The smaller size of the CR-80EH makes a huge impact on performance, to the tune of 24°C.

While it’s impressive that the CR-80EH passes this test at all, keep in mind it’s an open testbed with no airflow restrictions. It’s also notable that the only cooler to ever fail this test is the Reeven Vanxie, a low profile heatsink standing only 34 mm tall and weighing a mere 180 grams. This tiny cooler failed to keep the CPU from throttling only when the fan speed was reduced such that it produced just 12 dBA@1m, a practically inaudible noise level.

CS-60 Test Platform

For our in-case test, we monitor all system temperatures while putting the system in various states. A fan is also outfitted on the side panel in the event it is needed to ensure adequate cooling (i.e. to prevent the CPU from downclocking automatically if it surpasses the thermal threshold).

Note: As not all motherboards use the same Turbo Boost multipliers by default, the 4-core Turbo Boost multiplier is set to a limit of 36x, the same standard we use for testing LGA1150 boards to keep the power consumption on a level playing field.

In-Case System Results (Core i5-4690K)
State
Idle
TMPGEnc
Prime95
System Fan Speed
N/A
N/A
500 RPM
CPU Temp
40°C
74°C
88°C*
72°C
VRM Temp
41°C
55°C
63°C
57°C
MB Temp
32°C
32°C
33°C
35°C
SSD Temp
26°C
28°C
29°C
31°C
System Power (AC)
30W
82W
95W
107W
System SPL@1m
N/A
N/A
13 dBA
*CPU throttled to 3.1 GHz.
Ambient noise level: 10~11 dBA
Ambient temperature: 22°C

Using video encoding with TMPGEnc as a real world load test, the NoFan fanless system runs fairly warm with the CPU hitting 74°C and the VRM area reaching 55°C. However, on Prime95, it initially eclipses the 90°C mark before the processor throttles, downclocking itself by 500 MHz, before stabilizing at 88°C while the VRMs peak at 63°C. The Core i5-4690K is just a little too hot for it to handle, but as its TDP is 88W, this makes the CR-80EH’s 80W limit seems about right.

Turning on the side fan and setting it a mere 500 RPM quickly puts it back on track, with the processor finishing slightly cooler than in the TMPGEnc test, while running at the full 3.6 GHz. A little direct airflow goes a long way and the fan at this speed generates only 13 dBA@1m, which is barely audible.

In-Case Performance (Core i5-4690K, Prime95)
Cooler
NoFan CR-95C
NoFan CR-80EH
CPU Temp
76°C
88°C*
VRM Temp
61°C
63°C
MB Temp
33°C
33°C
SSD Temp
30°C
29°C
System Power (AC)
107W
95W
*CPU throttled to 3.1 GHz.
Ambient noise level: 10~11 dBA
Ambient temperature: 22°C

NoFan doesn’t specify a maximum TDP for the larger CR-95C, but it handles the i5-4690K in the CS-60 case with relative ease, finishing the Prime95 test well under the throttling point.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The NoFan CR-80EH is a much smaller fanless heatsink than its big brother, the CR-95C, but it’s also far less capable. According to our testing, it’s deficient by a substantial 24°C, though this is still enough to handle a processor with a modest TDP, albeit with very high temperatures. The specified 80W limit is accurate in our view, though something in the 65W or less range is preferable. The mounting system assembles with ease, but having to finish the install on the back side of the motherboard (with the cooler upside-down) is a bit of a pain.

The case they rebranded as the CS-60 is an appropriate choice for this type of application. While the In Win Dragon Slayer was designed with more of an enthusiast slant, its open, well-ventilated nature is a suitable complement to a large passive cooler. It’s taller than in needs to be (due to its original purpose), but overall, it fits the bill nicely, despite the lack of polish in some areas. The 2.5-inch drive bay is ill-fitting and the external USB 3.0 cable for the front ports is ancient by current standards. Then again, it’s more pragmatic to use a cheaper, dated case if all you really need is a box with a lot of holes in it.

The prospect of a completely fanless high performance desktop system is a tantalizing one that can be generally accomplished in one of two ways. We’ve examined a variety of cases that act as a heatsink, using heatpipes as the middle man between the chassis and the hottest components, but this is an incredibly heavy and expensive solution. The NoFan approach, using a big fanless heatsink and an extremely well-ventilated case is a substantially more affordable option and easier to put together.

The CR-80EH is selling in Europe for €50/£35, about half that of the CR-95C, while the CS-60 is currently priced at US$100/£50, though you can probably save a bit of money by looking for the In Win Dragon Slayer instead. Going this route will result in a larger, inelegant system, but that’s the price you have pay if you can’t afford a premium solution. Of course, the most practical way to go is a more conventional system with one or two fans running slow enough to be effectively inaudible. Users who can tolerate a little bit of noise can reap the benefits of superior cooling (and thus higher thermal limits), and better pricing.

Our thanks to NoFan
for the CR-80EH fanless heatsink and CS-60 case.

* * *

SPCR Articles of Related Interest:

Phanteks PH-TC14S & Cyrorig C1 CPU Coolers
New 92mm-fan Tower Coolers from Noctua
Arctic Accelero Hybrid II-120 Liquid GPU Cooler
Sub-$20 CPU Coolers: A Reader’s Roundup
Thermalright HR-22 CPU Heatsink
NoFan CR-95C Copper Fanless CPU Cooler

* * *

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