Quick and Easy Intel Stock Cooler Mod Uses a Paper Insert

Intel Alder Lake stock coolers
(Image credit: Intel)

A retro games developer and tinkerer has shared details of a quick and easy mod for owners and users of the new Intel Laminar RM1 stock coolers that come bundled with the company's mainstream chips. Patrick Bene, the proprietor of Pubby Games, detailed his paper-based noise abatement technique in a blog post titled Piece of paper quiets Intel Alder Lake stock coolers.

Bene has a system that features an Intel Core i5-12400 Alder Lake processor, which he admits is a "budget PC." However, as the new stock cooler works to his satisfaction, Bene isn't tempted to spend even a relatively small amount to get an aftermarket replacement.

However, when pondering over the design of the Laminar RM1 (bundled with Intel Alder Lake Core i3, i5, and i7 retail boxed CPUs), he noticed the Laminar RH1 for Core i9 chips was taller and had a fan cowl in place. Yes, the i9 cooler has aRGB LED lighting, too, but despite popular wisdom, that doesn't contribute to its performance.

(Image credit: Intel / Pubby Games)

The difference got the tinkerer thinking whether there would be any noticeable effect to adding a cowl around the Laminar RM1 in his system. In a classic case of make-do craft, Bene used paper, scissors, and tape to make a snugly-fitting fan cowl that helped direct the expelled air and kept it out of the way of the fan blades. The difference was instantly noticeable with regard to cooler noise, but as a person with respect for scientific methods, Bene went on to make some measurements and adjustments.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Cowl HeightMax CPU tempRelative Noise
No cowl80 C+8 Db
1 inch85 C+0 Db
1.4 inches82 C+1 Db
1.7 inches80 C+2 Db
2 inches80 C+4 Db
3+ inches80 C+8 Db

Above, you can see the Laminar RM1 paper mod chart of success and failure. At the top of the chart, you can see that the CPU runs at up to 80 degrees Celsius with an unmodified cooler. However, it is 8dB louder than the same fan with a 1-inch paper cowl inserted. The 1-inch cowl is great for dampening noise, but its weakness is the CPU runs five degrees hotter. By making incrementally longer cowls, Bene found a sweet spot length of 1.7 inches. This design was 2dB louder than the 1-inch cowl but still 6dB quieter than the unmodded design.

Pondering over Bene's results, we can't help to think that the issue with the longer cowls might be due to the paper thickness (flapping/vibrating). Other sheet materials formed into a suitable loop may perform better, as may a 3D printed insert. We think it is probably best if the material is slick or shiny (but shark skin textured materials might be good too).

If you are interested in the Laminar RM1 paper mod, you can test it yourself with minimal effort/risk. There will be at least some risk through — perhaps your sheet material will shift or deform and stop your fan when it is needed. Please be careful to avoid any issues.

(Image credit: Intel)

Intel's 2022 stock coolers marked a significant change from their ancestors when the new affordable Alder Lake-S desktop chips debuted in January. These 12th-Gen Intel Core processors were bundled with one of three new Intel Laminar coolers (see above for details). The more appealing-looking translucent black and blue designs provided a sorely-needed upgrade in both looks and performance.

Mark Tyson
Freelance News Writer

Mark Tyson is a Freelance News Writer at Tom's Hardware US. He enjoys covering the full breadth of PC tech; from business and semiconductor design to products approaching the edge of reason.

  • bolouswki
    "Yes, the i9 cooler has aRGB LED lighting, too, but despite popular wisdom, that doesn't contribute to its performance. "