Noctua is getting close to releasing its previously delayed fanless CPU cooler, and we can hardly wait. The reason is because the prototype that was shown off at Computex last year was an absolute unit, with its sheer size hinting at better-than-expected performance. Adding to the hype, Noctua says "prepare to be surprised" by how well it performs.
In the lead-up to the launch, the folks at FanlessTech managed to get their mitts on a photo of what is presumed to be the final design, and posted it to Twitter. According to FanlessTech, the cooler is about to enter mass production.
Exclusive picture of the fanless @Noctua_at CPU cooler. Mass production is about to start. pic.twitter.com/MQq8eUYUwbDecember 18, 2020
This is a the same site that posted a picture of a prototype version of this cooler back in July, along with an updated roadmap noting it had been delayed. Noctua had apparently wanted to release this cooler before the end of the year, but for whatever reason, it pushed the release to the first quarter of 2021.
If it is indeed about to enter mass production, that would suggest things are still on track for a first quarter release. And there is no reason to believe otherwise—Noctua commented on the Twitter post in response to a user saying they doubt it will be as good as a couple of other fanless coolers on the market, specifically the CR-95C or CR-100A, and could have used the opportunity to correct the mass production comment if it was inaccurate.
More likely, Noctua is working with FanlessTech to drum up excitement, by providing the site a teaser photo and information about the cooler's production status. Regardless, it will be interesting to see how it performs compared to the best CPU coolers, whenever it arrives.
As a hint of what to expect, Noctua said at Computex last year that its upcoming cooler could handle CPU loads of up to 120W inside a fanless case with "good natural convection." If installing it inside a case with quiet fans for active airflow, that number increases to 180W, based on what the company previously said. Same goes for attaching a fan directly to the cooler, should someone want to go that route.
Those numbers suggest it could handle higher end Intel 10th Gen Comet Lake processors. For example, the Core i9 10700K has a TDP of 125W. Same goes for AMD's latest Ryzen 5000 series, with the Ryzen 9 5950X having a default TDP of 105W.
Extended loads and overclocking will be the real tests, though to be fair, overclocking is not typically the goal in fanless or otherwise low noise builds that prioritize silence over cooling performance.