Half a centimetre doesn't seem like much, especially when we're talking about small pieces of plastic. But it turns out it can make all the difference when it comes to fan spacing. Noctua, the brand known for making some of the best PC fans you can get (opens in new tab), has just introduced new inlet spacers that are only 5mm thick.
The new NA-IS1 (opens in new tab) is spacer designed to sit on the fan positioned at any intake points, likely on the side of your machine. It creates a bit of extra space between your fan and the grill or plating that is supposed to be there to stop your computer sucking up mountains of dust.
Normally, the proximity of these grills and the fan can increase the turbulence when pulling in air. This is less efficient for the fans, and can be responsible for a fair amount of noise. Noctua claims these spacers cause a significant reduction to influx turbulence, improving both efficiency and sound.
The spacers are being made in both the common 14cm and 12cm Noctua square sizes and should fit all of the current brands' models in that format. When installing, the idea is you first remove the anti-vibration pads and then either use the included self-tapping screws or the vibration mounts to fit the spacer between the grill and the fan. There are also screws provided for radiator mounting setups as well.
It seems only fair that Noctua would include these tools, given the NA-IS1 will set you back around $15 USD (opens in new tab) for a set of two. If you're already rocking the Noctua fans, it seems like an easy upgrade and likely a bit of a no-brainer. Especially when it's rocking that classic Noctua brown, shared by the Asus X Noctual RTX 3070 (opens in new tab). Though they do also come in black.
Alongside the NA-IS1, Noctua also debuted the NA-AVG2 (opens in new tab), an anti-vibration gasket for systems that need a tighter seal on the fan. These would be perfect for connecting up to water cooling radiators being made out of high quality silicone rubber. This material also helps to reduce noise, and has greater efficiency on air loss. You can get the gaskets in a set of three for around $10 USD. (opens in new tab)
That being said, if you're not such a big fan of spinning blades Noctua also offer passive coolers like the NH-P1 (opens in new tab) to keep your CPU chill without fans. These will definitely set you back a bit more than a few more mms of plastic, but they're also basically silent.