A startup called Frore Systems has begun showing off a new AirJet cooling system for laptops that could dissipate more heat than a spinning fan and heat-pipe system while taking up less space and generating less noise.

The company says the technology could allow PC makers to build thinner, quieter laptops that offer better sustained performance than models with more traditional cooling. The first products with AirJet cooling could arrive sometime this year.

In a nutshell, AirJet modules are “solid state thermal solution” that provide active cooling without the use of a fan. Instead, there are “tiny membranes that vibrate at ultrasonic frequency” to draw air in through vents on top of the module and flush them out through vents on the sides in “high velocity pulsating jets” of air.

This allows heat generated by a CPU, GPU, or other chips to be quickly dissipated and pushed out the sides of a notebook via vents.

Because AirJet modules take up less space than a fan, they can be used in notebooks measuring as little as 11mm (0.43 inches) thick. Up until now most laptops that thin would have been fanless. And because of the way heat is moved, Frore CEO Seshu Madhavapeddy told PC World recently that it’s possible to offer active cooling in laptops with vents only on the sides and not the bottom (allowing them to perform just as well when placed on your lap or on a bed or pillow as they do on a table or desk).

Ultimately, the promise isn’t just that computers with active cooling could be as thin and light as fanless computers (and almost as quiet, since AirJet cooling generates just 21 to 24 dBA of noise). It’s that the technology offers enough cooling performance to allow CPUs to run at higher speeds for longer periods without throttling, which could make a big difference in sustained performance.

Frore has developed two versions of its AirJet modules so far. The AirJet Mini is a 41.5 x 27.5 x 2.8mm module that can dissipate up to 5.25 watts of heat (while consuming about 1 watts of power), while the AirJet Pro is a 71.5 x 31.5 x 2.8mm module that offers up to 10.5 watts of cooling (with power consumption of up to 1.75 watts).

You’d need two to three AirJet Pro modules for a typical laptop with up to a 28 watt processor, while three or four AirJet Mini modules should be able to cool a laptop with an ARM-based chip or lower-power x86 processor.

Of course, AirJet technology isn’t a drop-in replacement for a fan, so PC makers will have to design new hardware to take advantage of the system with updated motherboards, ventilation, and other cooling features designed to work with AirJet modules (such as vapor chambers).

So while Frore says it’s working with manufacturers on new products that could launch as earlier as this year, I suspect that it could be a while before AirJet cooling becomes as common as spinning fans.

via PC World

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  1. Oddly (because do not have one), my first thought was whether a pet dog would be bothered by one these running.

  2. “Solid state” is clearly trying to capitalize the sense of technical superiority carried by that term.

    I’d love to see this tested by LTT or GN. Longevity, on the other hand, will take a couple of years to prove it’s worth.

  3. Their one video claimed that going from 18w to 28w is a 50% increase in performance, but that’s not necessarily true. 50% more power draw does NOT equate to 50% more performance in most cases.

    For example, look at https://youtu.be/y0lTxeYLS8M?t=203 – going from 20w to 30w (a 50% increase in power) moves the FPS from ~70 to ~75, which is only about a 7% increase in performance.

    That said, it seems like a cool idea – I’d love to see how it works in the real world. I just get triggered by bullshit marketing claims sometimes…

    1. 1w power draw when you need a few of these in a single laptop is quite a penalty in a thin and light. My entire system can idle at 4-5w. Fans consume way less and this needs to be fixed for this to gain traction.

  4. Neat idea. My main concern is regarding the expected lifespan of the working components, and what would you expect to happen leading up to a failure? Would it simply result in diminished fan output (or membrane output) slowly over its life? Or will it be working 100% one day, and die the next day?

    Also, I wonder how susceptible it is to being blocked by dust buildup, like a fan/heatsink often experiences. And can the user clean the membrane themselves? Or does it need to be replaced in that scenario? I’m assuming dust will still be an issue, because you need air coming in to be able to push it out.

  5. I hope their first product is a gaming laptop that runs almost silent. Hopefully reliability is just as good as fans… after all it is “solid-state”.

    1. Their CFM numbers look much, much smaller than average laptop fans… and their marketing video appears to be targeting already fan-less laptops. I guess gaming laptops will still stay noisy.

  6. One major question is if there’s a version of this that can work with discrete GPUs or if it’s only good for lower power CPUs (better ventilation on gaming laptops or workstation replacements is always a good thing).

    One potential advantage with these designs is if they eliminate vents on the bottom and the ventilation is good, they could make the bottom out of a less conductive material to make its use on actual laps comfortable even when under full load.

    Of course, in both cases it’s a question of waiting to see how well it works in the real world and how well it is implemented.

  7. It’s as “solid state” as any fan is. I’m just going to call it a bellows, and I’m going to keep calling it a bellows no matter how many people call it an “SSC” or whatever.
    While I think the general idea can be done, I’ll believe it works as well as they say it does when I see it working that well in a laptop.
    Laptops however have already gotten to the point that making them any thinner requires further sacrifices in features, and that’s with fans. Unless they’re putting the motherboard in the lid, in which case, a bellows that performs like this might actually work quite well in conjunction with a lid heat sink.

    1. It sure shouldn’t be called “solid state” if it depends on a vibrating membrane. We’ve got solid state coolers, but the efficiency of thermoelectric coolers employing the Peltier effect would have to be drastically improved to use them in laptops.