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active cooling

Active cooling is the use of fans to reduce the heat of computer components. Active cooling contrasts with passive cooling, which involves reducing the speed at which a component is running to reduce its heat. 

Typically, a combined approach is used, in which either active or passive cooling is the first option. In power management settings, for example, selecting active cooling means that the system software will increase fan speed to keep the processor at an appropriate operating temperature and will only slow down the speed of the processor if it becomes necessary.  Slowing the processor means that system performance will be slower.

This was last updated in May 2013

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This is completely wrong. Active coolers use energy to cool: like a peltier or phase-change cooler (what's in your refrigerator).

A radiator with a fan is a passive cooler because it does not remove heat by use of energy (the electricity to run the fans and radiator pump is not what this means).

The easy way to tell is if the cooler can lower temperatures below ambient.

A radiator with a fan will never lower temperatures below ambient because it's passively radiating heat to the environment.
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