Fanless or passive CPU cooling heatsinks are nothing new. But they were reserved for low-power CPUs, which usually draw around 50W on average. That’s why Noctua is making waves with its release of the NH-P1, the company’s first-ever passive CPU cooler. The NH-P1 can tame even an Intel Core i9-11900K, which has an average power draw of 125W. That’s an extreme setup that most people will never even have, and that’s not just because the i9-11900K is a terrible value.
The NH-P1 has chonky fins that are directly soldered onto its six heatpipes, allowing it to withstand years of use without degrading its capacity to dissipate heat. If you’re wondering if you should go for the NH-P1, you probably don’t need it. The main advantages of a passive CPU cooler are that it produces no noise, and it requires zero maintenance. It’s meant for computer setups that are fully fanless or the recent trend of open-air computer frames akin to test benches. If you just want a work or gaming PC, most conventional CPU coolers and even some all-in-one liquid coolers are cheaper but still get the job done.
That’s not to say the NH-P1 can’t work with a CPU fan. You can attach a 120mm low-profile fan to it – in fact, Noctua released such a product along with the NH-P1, the NF-A12x25. Gotta love those engineering-over-marketing product names. As I said, at this point you have a ton more options for cooling, but the NH-P1 still offers notable perks for air-cooling. Its asymmetrical design means it doesn’t cover the top PCI-E slot and the RAM slot that’s nearest the CPU. That may sound like a minor convenience, but PC builders know that that could be a deal-breaker for some setups.
In fact, the NH-P1 is so considerate with space constraints that it allows you to clip a fan on three of its sides.
Here’s a sample build that uses the NH-P1, courtesy of Noctua itself:
You can order the NH-P1 from Newegg for $110 (USD). It’s also on Amazon (affiliate link). You should also check out its compatibility list to see if it can cool your CPU – although as Noctua said, there are other factors to consider when building a passively-cooled PC, such as the case material and ventilation and even the size of the motherboard.