An enterprising user has modified the stock cooler that comes with the Core i5 12400 to run more quietly using nothing more than a sheet of paper and some masking tape. not only that, but Patrick Bene detailed his experience in a blog, experimenting with different paper heights to show why he chose the ideal 1.7 inches. Beautiful things.
This was done after realizing that the Alder Lake Core i9’s standard cooler was taller than the Core i5 unit and that it had a blue plastic hood around the fan, while the Core i5 has an outdoor design. The driving force behind the mod wasn’t to improve cooling, but rather to deal with the amount of noise produced – the stock cooler really is a noisy beast under load. There are sound files on his blog so you can hear how loud he gets.
After some experimentation, Patrick found that a 1-inch hood reduced noise levels the most, coming in at 8dB quieter than the standard cooler – definitely noticeable. Unfortunately, this caused the maximum CPU temperature to rise to 85°C. After a few more paper cuts, with hoods up to 3 inches tall, he chose the ideal 1.7-inch hood. This produced the same cooling as the standard fan at 80°C under load, while also reducing noise levels by 6dB.
A potential side effect of this is that VRMs around the CPU may have reduced airflow and therefore may run hotter, although on stock watches this is probably not a huge issue. There’s still plenty of airflow around the bottom of the cooler too, so it should be fine. It’s something worth checking out if you’re considering modifying your own Intel cooler.
It’s impressive work anyway and easy enough for anyone to do it themselves – the best kind of mod. You could argue that you’ll get much better cooling and noise levels from a third-party cooler, and you’d be right, but if you’re on a tight budget this seems like a reasonable solution to the problem. And one that shouldn’t cost you a dime.