Cutting corners: Users of Intel's Laminar RM1 stock cooler, do you look on in envy at the sleeker, Laminar RH1 Cooler and wish your stubby little piece of hardware was as quiet and as tall as the one boxed with i9-12900/i9-12900F processors? It seems you can get your wish, kind of, by simply using a piece of paper.
A modder has made a slight alteration to his Laminar RM1 stock cooler using a very cheap and straightforward method, and although it doesn't lower temperatures, it has a noticeable effect on sound levels.
In his blog documenting the experience, Patrick Bene notes how the RH1 cooler (below) bundled with the 12th-gen i9-12900/i9-12900F processors has a blue cowl around it, unlike the RM1 that comes with the non-K versions of Alder Lake's i7, i5, and i3 chips. So, he decided to see what would happen if he added a cylindrical piece of paper to his stock i5 cooler.
Bene experimented with different cowl heights, ranging from under an inch to over three inches, producing interesting results. Adding a 1-inch cone reduced noise levels the most, but it increased the maximum CPU temperature from 80 degrees centigrade to 85 C. Adding another 0.4-inches kept the noise down but the temperature was still higher, at 82 C. It turned out that the 1.7-inch cowl was the sweet spot, offering the same temps as the unmodified stock cooler while dropping noise levels by 6dB.
PC Gamer notes that one of the caveats with this mod is that the VRMs around the CPU could experience reduced airflow and potentially run hotter, though the airflow around the bottom of the cooler should mean you'll be okay.
It's certainly true that you could just buy a low-price, third-party Alder Lake cooler that's probably better than Intel's offering, but for those who want something a bit quieter and without spending a penny, your homemade paper cowl might do the trick.