A massive cylindrical heatsink, the fanless (and thus noiseless) NoFan CR-95C Copper actually cools processors with power envelopes up to 95W. This is unprecedented.
June 25, 2013 by Lawrence Lee
|NoFan CR-95C Copper CPU Cooler|
NoFan is a small Korean outfit with only a handful of products in their catalog. The list of distributors and dealers is quite substantial, however, so availability looks pretty good most places in the world. Their most notable device is a passively cooled CPU heatsink as its part of a niche market. The last two heatsinks we tested that claimed fanless capability were based on traditional tower designs and produced disappointing results in completely fanless mode. The CR-95C, on the other hand, has been designed purely as a fanless cooling solution.
Interestingly, although we had some contact with NoFan a while back, this sample did not come from them. It was purchased by SPCR reader Mike Willis, and shipped for us to review. Our thanks to Mike Willis for his proactive support: Thank you!
The CR-95C is huge and cylindrical, making it difficult to mount a fan and if the manufacturer’s name isn’t a big enough clue, there is no such option is supported. It’s available in two flavors, nickel-plated Black Pearl, and plain Copper (we’re examining the latter). This monstrosity has a radial design, with the structure of a massive but hollow barrow comprised mainly of copper. There are just four heatpipes which have been forged using NoFan’s IcePipe technology, the details of which have not been disclosed. All we know is that their heatpipes are slimmer, lighter, and wickless. NoFan also claims their product is dust proof, though it obviously doesn’t have a fan to build up dust on the unit directly.
The CR-95C is enclosed in a large plastic clamshell container and ships with a simple set of mounting hardware which is usually a good thing. Officially, it can be mounted on all modern AMD sockets and smaller Intel sockets (LGA775/1155/1156) and supports chips up to 95W, but there are mounting holes for LGA1366. It is however, unlikely to be capable of adequately cooling any 1366 processor properly without a fan.
NoFan CR-95C: Specifications
(from the product
|Dimension||180 x 180 x 148 mm|
|Material||Pure Copper, Pure Aluminum|
|Dissipation Area||217,036 mm2|
|ICEPIPE||1EA (43.200 mm)|
|NOFAN Case Compatibility||CS-30, CS-60, CS-70, CS-80|
The NoFan CR-95C Copper is composed of a copper base, four 6 mm thick copper heatpipes, a series of rounded copper wires (158 by our count), and some structural materials near the base which we believe is constructed of aluminum. According to our measurements, its dimensions are 18.3 x 18.3 x 14.7 cm (L x W x H) and it weighs 810 grams, significantly more than its specified 730 grams.
The most critical aspect of installation is that the heatsink be securely
mounted. A firm mating results in good contact between the heatsink’s base and
the CPU heatspreader and more efficient heat conduction. Ideally it should
also be a simple procedure with the user having to handle as few pieces of
hardware as possible.
Key Components in LGA1366 Heatsink Test Platform:
Key Components in LGA1155 Heatsink Test Platform:
The systems are silent under the test conditions, except for the CPU cooling
Normally, our reference fans are used whenever possible, the measured details
of which are shown below.
Reference Noctua 140mm fan
Anechoic chamber measurements
Reference Nexus 120 mm fan
Anechoic chamber measurements
Reference Nexus 92 mm fan
Anechoic chamber measurements
Measurement and Analysis Tools
used to monitor the CPU speed to determine when overheating occurs.
Noise measurements are made with the fans powered from the lab’s variable DC
power supply while the rest of the system was off to ensure that system noise
did not skew the measurements.
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.
Our first test takes place on our demanding LGA1366 open test platform featuring a Core i7-965 at 3.2 GHz and 1.2V. As most fanless coolers have a TDP limit of 95W or less, we only ran 4 instances of Prime95 rather than 8 (it’s a quad core chip with Hyper-threading) for our load test.
Passive Cooler Comparison: Thermal Rise
(Core i7-965 @ 3.2 GHz, 1.2V, Prime95, half load)
Thermalright HR-02 Macho
SilverStone Heligon HE02
NoFan CR-95C Copper
The CR-95C started off on par with the HR-02 Macho but after the four minute mark the rate of temperature increase slowed. The HR-02 failed (the CPU throttled) at about 9 minutes while Heligon HE02 lasted a minute longer. The CR-95C is the first heatsink to actually pass this test, stabilizing at 62°C after 15 minutes of operation. There was plenty of headroom too as the processor doesn’t throttle until it hits a thermal rise of about 80°C at room temperature.
Passive Cooler Performance: Thermal Rise
(Core i5-2400 @ 3.6 GHz, 1.3V, Prime95, full load)
NoFan CR-95C Copper
The CR-95C also passed the fanless test on our less demanding LGA1155 test platform which is more contemporary with what is powering most modern systems. With a full CPU load, the temperature stopped increasing after the thermal rise hit 54°C which is fairly modest.
Thermal Rise Comparison (°C)
(120 & 92 mm fans)
(120 mm fan)
Scythe Big Shuriken 2 Rev.B
Scythe Samurai ZZ
(92 mm fan)
Scythe Big Shuriken
As the NoFan CR-95C does not generate any noise we placed its result at 11 dBA on our performance comparison chart (10~11 dBA@1m is our anechoic chamber’s ambient noise level). The CR-95C performs as well as a modest mid-range model with a fan running at very low, inaudible speeds. Note that every other cooler in this chart is considerably smaller and cheaper.
The NoFan CR-95C Copper is the first heatsink to actually pass our open platform cooler test without any assistance from a fan. Unlike the Thermalright HR-02 Macho or SilverStone Heligon HE02, it was designed from the ground up as a purely passive heatsink. There is no safety net, no fan mount option, and it doesn’t need one so long as the processor with which it’s paired doesn’t exceed the specified 95W TDP limit. We’ve encountered several "fanless" products that didn’t live up to their promises but the CR-95C passes muster with plenty of headroom.
It is a massive cooler though so there are some complications due to its size. It renders the top expansion slot on most motherboards unusable though this is not as big of an issue as it was in days past. The most commonly required expansion slot, PCI-E 16x (for discrete GPUs), is now typically placed in the second position and many boards have more than one. The fact that it hangs over multiple memory slots is a greater problem as many DIMMs are now outfitted with oversized heatspreaders — compatible RAM must be no taller than 34 mm (almost bare). The cooler may also extend past the top edge of the motherboard as well so a little clearance is required on that side as well.
It’s important to note that the entire genre of passive coolers, the CR-95C
included, is encumbered with some significant disadvantages. A heatsink half
the size and a third of the price can operate more efficiently with a fan running
at very low, inaudible speed. Furthermore, it can get rather toasty under high
extended load so some internal case airflow is may be needed, which defeats
the purpose of having a fanless cooler in the first place. Fanless CPU heatsinks
should really only be considered by those very sensitive to noise and hobbyists
who simply want something new or interesting to add to their rigs. For them,
the NoFan CR-95C Copper is a solid offering and superior to any previous fanless
solution we’ve tested.
We have some suggestions on how to achieve completely silent operation with
NoFan has created in the CR-95C an effective solution to what is obviously
a bit of a niche problem. That niche being the extreme edge of silent computing,
we can’t help but commend them.
Much thanks to SPCR reader Mike Willis for donating this CR-95C Copper heatsink sample for us to review.
NoFan CR-95C is Recommended by SPCR
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SPCR Articles of Related Interest:
SilverStone Argon AR01 & AR03 CPU Coolers
Noctua NH-U12S Slim Tower Heatsink
Cooler Master Seidon 240M: Dual Fan Liquid CPU Cooler
Phanteks PH-TC12DX CPU Cooler
Phanteks PH-TC90LS Mini Cooler
Thermalright TRUE Spirit 120M CPU Heatsink
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