Fanless Windows devices?

I’ve been considering if I can simplify my devices, from carrying a MBA and an iPad down to one 2 in 1 Windows device.

From what I’ve seen and tried, I don’t think so, but wonder if I’ve missed anything I should look at? At the moment I don’t think a Windows on ARM device would work for me based on the VM and occasional video editing usage but happy to be proved wrong!

Key things I’m after are light (1.2kgish max), 13-14" screen, genuine 10 hours+ usage, 16gb memory, no fan, pencil support for note taking in meetings, ability to watch Netflix/Disney/Prime video offline.

So far I’ve tried

  1. Surface Pro 9 - very average battery life
  2. HP Envy/spectre 360 - daft feature that if the laptop goes to sleep in tablet mode you have to fully unfold it to hit the power button and wake it up
  3. HP Dragonfly G2 - thought this was the one, but fan was on virtually most of the time unless in airplane mode and the best power efficiency setting.
  4. Dell XPS 2 in 1 - average battery life
  5. Surface Go 2 - liked this, but not enough memory (I run 1 or 2 VMs)



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The biggest challenge right now is Intel is still struggling to remain competitive. Finding a system that is fanless and a system that is performant is mutually exclusive in 2-in-1s. If you hadn’t noticed, AMD recently surpassed Intel in market cap on the street, and it is because Intel’s manufacturing process and designs are, quite frankly, abysmal while AMD has hit the milestone of achieving the same power-to-performance efficiency as Apple (and, yes, with x86).

The issue is for AMD to have their breakout device in tablet PCs and they would need a juggernaut like Microsoft or another well-recognized PC manufacturer like Dell, HP, or Lenovo to use their processors to make a name for themselves in tablet PCs. If Microsoft put AMD into a Surface Pro, much of your wish list would be fulfilled. Surface fans have been asking for this for nearly five years now and the request has fallen on deaf ears. In fact, Microsoft, if anything, has doubled down on their Wintel roots by removing AMD from the Surface Laptop family with the introduction of the Surface Laptop 5.

You could try the Surface Pro 9 SQ3 but as you have already puzzled out, Windows-on-ARM is going to restrict you in the VM department. However, if you could somehow make due without VMs, I would have my eye on the Surface Pro 10 and NUVIA-based SQ4 that it portends in 2024. That will have performance eclipsing Intel with all-day battery life. So personally, I would hold off until then. Even with the partial though wholly inadequate fixes that 13th Gen brings to the table this year in battery efficiency, it is still grossly inadequate to make them competitive in the all-day computing tablet PC market.


interesting viewpoint thanks! By then the M1 MBA I have will be 4 years old so a decent timeline to start looking again!

I fear the sub 2.5lbs weight and 10+ hours battery life requirement will reduce this list rather drastically. I was going to suggest a used fanless i5 Surface Book (it exists, not sure which generation) but those are quite a bit heavier. And of course it has an outdated CPU generation.

Yes, I am very bullish about the upcoming NUVIA-based Snapdragon 8xc Gen 4/Microsoft SQ4. You can see my musings here:

It has been known for some years now and AnandTech is considered one of the most reliable sources in tech media. However, it is still taking some techies, even here, to wake up to this impending fact.

I’ll believe it when I see it in operation, not on the drawing boards… :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: I’m sure AMD and Intel both have the same “objectives” but neither of them will ever reach that goal…I’m not sure even mighty Timmy can Cook that up…

Emphasis added. This is exactly the load of malarkey I have been talking about. This is old and outdated, pre-Ryzen AMD sentiment that needs to be taken out to the curb with the rest of the trash where it rightly belongs. Sure, Intel hasn’t met its goals, but AMD certainly has been over the last five years. Do you remember Ryzen? AMD’s initial goal with that was to reach a 40% IPC increase. They hit a 52% increase. Zen 2? Zen 3? Zen 4, which–reminder–now beats Apple in power-to-performance:

Out of interest, we ran the new Ryzen 9 7945HX (Zen 4, 5 nm) at 35 watts and the results were 16,872 points in the Cinebench R23 multi-test - so the AMD chip is more efficient than the M2 Pro.


AMD has been kicking it ever since with huge >10% IPC gains year after year. As for Apple, M2 series and A16 showed zero IPC improvement over the M1 series and A15 the year prior. Apple has been getting <10% IPC improvements for the five years or, in the case of the last two years, 0% IPC improvements since A14 and M1 in late 2020. If Tim Cook’s safe, do-not-disrupt-the-winning-formula-by-not-innovating strategy continues, they will be in everyone’s rearview mirrors in five to 10 years from now.

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Lisa Su, is that you?

Problem is, first they have to get into Timmy’s rearview mirror before they can approach and pass…

Enough of my BS - you are probably right @Hifihedgehog, but the bottom line is that for the VAST MAJORITY of users out there, my lowly 11th gen i5 SP8 is even overkill, and if I were a gamer I’d definitely get a console instead of even trying to build a gaming rig…it’s kind of like owning a good cow pony but thinking I need a Kentucky Derby winner instead…


Totally agree with the first part. Most everyday stuff is easily done with my Samsung Galaxy Book 12 with its 7th gen i5 and Win10. I use it as such all the time. My M2 Pro Mac mini is total overkill for that stuff.

I agree partially with the second part. Your average gamer is fine with one of the consoles. And most gamers do indeed own consoles and that’s all they have. But if you want to be competitive or if you want to tinker with mods or be bleeding edge with 4k+ monitors with fast framerates there’s no substitute for a gaming PC.

I’m a special case in that I do enjoy modding almost as much as playing the games, depending on the game. But I am constrained by being off-grid on solar power most of the year so I must keep my gaming rig under 100W, give or take, and that includes the monitor. Ironically, even if I didn’t mod the gaming consoles draw too much power, typically about 150W nowadays before you account for the monitor/TV. I used to have a PlayStation 4 Pro and I could only use it occasionally when I had full hookups with on-grid electricity. So I sold it off…

What was the topic again? Oh, fanless… sorry for the (typical) topic drift!


Nope, just sharing the straight facts a bit ruthlessly. Thanks for taking it in stride. :slight_smile:

Totally. The kicker is no one in PC land seems interested in pursuing a low power, tablet device these days. AMD’s mobile CPUs are more than up to the task as is Qualcomm’s if WOA is workable for someone’s daily grind. Oddly enough, we see the AMD processors in handheld gaming PCs that are tablets with game controllers essentially permanently installed but we don’t see them in true tablets. I really wish we could see the latter. It is not like it would much work when handheld gaming PCs are actually more complicated to design, not less.

My ignorance of gaming is show (again - “ignorance” or “gaming”).

Back to the main topic - it seems “fanless” is becoming a lost art among the OEM’s. Outside of tablets, they are a rare commodity, and even the new WOA devices have fans. A quick Google shows this is a shrinking market (pun intended - seems they are mostly mini-PC’s in the fanless arena).

The only thing to come close to your specs (minus 10h battery life) would be the Acer Switch 7 Black Edition. Besides solid base specs, it had a 13.5" 3:2 EMR digitizer, and a unique “Dual LiquidLoop” fanless heatsink on a quadcore CPU and discrete GPU, which was unheard at the time.

In fact, it is still unheard of—and very discontinued, unfortunately. (Tablet PC manufacturers love their one-hit wonders.) :stuck_out_tongue:


And it was unobtainium in the US except sometimes on Ebay a year or two after it came out. After discontinuation by Acer. I think Western availability was pretty much limited to Germany.

A lost unicorn.

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Quality #2 of tablet PC manufacturers:

They always mess up the launch and marketing of their best products.


Heck yeah! I loved this concept, except battery life was atrocious on that sucker because of its dedicated GPU:

Quality #3 of tablet PC manufacturers:

Their one-hit wonder will always have that one Achilles’ heel.

(That makes you wish they’d release a successor, but see quality #1 :stuck_out_tongue: )


Precisely. Specifically here, speaking of this Achilles’ heel, the only ones who are capable of delivering on the battery life front are AMD and Qualcomm. And between those two, the only device we have right now that does the device category justice is the SQ3-based Surface Pro 9. Pity is, Windows on ARM falls short of the VM requirement. The Achilles’ heel rears its ugly head.

SAMSUNG IN SPADES! The Galaxy Book 12 just BEGGED for an update of the processor, ram, and ssd - and keep that awesome EMR pen. Instead they went Galaxy Book2, added the kickstand (YES!), but then went WOA and then dead…


Any view on the AMD lenovo yoga 7 Gen 8 wrt battery life and fan??