All-in-one computers; which is better, Fan or Fanless

Fanless all-in-one units work well when used in a controlled and cooled environment. These units have low threshold voltages, draw less current and are equipped with bigger heat sinks. Due to the small footprint of these PCB’s one will find that components are closely populated and share a common heat sink. In time, thermal paste will dry and heat transfer will become a problem. One will find the unit freezing up, restarting and hanging intermittently. The power dissipation and heat build-up of the processor and bridge controllers has the tendency to bend and stretch the PCB, this is due to the unit heating up and cooling down. These phenomena may cause dry joints underneath the integrated circuits. The main board would need to be replaced. Units with fans tend to last longer. The core system temperature is generally lower with better performance and reliability, plus the unit is suitable for a wider range of environments.

Advantages of all-in-one equipment with a fan

1. Constant core temperature.

2. Little or no ASIC BGA dry joints.

3. More system reliability and durability especially in Africa.

4. Less costly failures.

5. Most common problem is fan and caps.

Disadvantages of all-in-one equipment with a fan

1. Preventative maintenance should be done at least once a year.

2. Unit could be noisy.

Advantages of of all-in-one equipment without a fan (Fanless)

1. No preventative maintenance.

2. No noise.

3. No movable parts

Disadvantages of of all-in-one equipment without a fan (Fanless)

1. Higher failure rate.

2. Costly failures.

3. Most common problem is dry joints on the BGA which = new main board

Being in the repair industry I have literally seen hundreds of all-in-one computers come through our workshop. The majority being fan-less. All of them ended up as costly repairs, all of them needed new mainboards. If asked today I will most certainly always recommend an OEM machine equipped with CPU cooling and proper air vents for good circulation. These units must be installed where the area is open and where one can expect proper air circulation. Having said that, I must emphasize the importance of “fan maintenance”. Normally these fans should be changed once a year and can be done on site by the client or service provider. Believe me, changing the fan is going to work out much cheaper with far less downtime in the long run.