Enthusiast Builds Custom SFF Case Around Noctua’s NH-P1 Passive Cooler

A PC enthusiast in China has built a custom PC case specifically to fit the substantial Noctua NH-P1 passive cooler — with room for little else. With a self-imposed design constraint of using a Mini-ITX platform, ChipHell’s FreshCool created a custom case measuring just 30 x 20 x 20 cm (LWH), or roughly 12 x 8 x 8–inches. The result, spotted by FanlessTech, is a pleasingly compact passive system. Moreover, it looks much like a modern manufactured case, featuring contemporary design trappings such as a side window, a generous amount of venting, and a vertically barred front. Perhaps it was Fractal North inspired.

What kind of thermal load will this passive PC system have to cope with? The system’s main heat source will be the Intel Core i7-12700, which of course has the Noctua NH-P1 attached. FreshCool says that if the CPU is limited to 65W, in testing it never strayed beyond the 50 degrees Celsius range. A 100W limit meant that the processor would run at temperatures in the mid-70s. Finally, the translation isn’t great but it seems like if the power limit is completely unlocked (140W), the 12700 will start to throttle under load after 90 seconds. We don’t have any info about what tests were run, ambient temperatures, etc.

On the quest for a truly fanless system, FreshCool chose to install a Seasonic PX450 (opens in new tab). This is a fully modular 450W PSU, and it offers 80 Plus Platinum efficiency with an attractive 12-year warranty. Other key components of the build include a Maxsun H610 ITX motherboard, 32GB of RAM (Kingston 2x16GB), and a WD Blue SN570 M.2 SSD.

In some further comments and replies on the ChipHell forums, FreshCool joked with other users about the case looking like a cooking appliance. The PC DIYer also revealed that they had previously considered using a SilverStone Sugo 16, with a comparable size but designed for active cooling. FreshCool didn’t use the Sugo after determining that “its ventilation efficiency is not good” for creating a passive system. However, for builders wanting a discrete GPU the Sugo has room for cards up to 275mm long and 147mm wide.

This custom case obviously won’t win any gaming performance awards, since it lacks anything better than the integrated Intel UHD Graphics 770. That’s enough for streaming video or perhaps playing Minecraft, but it falls well short of even the slowest dedicated solutions that we’ve tested in our GPU benchmarks. Of course, few graphics cards offer fanless solutions these days, which would defeat the point of this build.