Enclosures and acoustic damping to help quiet them.
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If I soft mount a fan it stands off the case a bit, which it is supposed to do. But wont that cause a loss of airflow through my case?
do you plug that standoff?
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If you cover it, it could make a nominal difference, but it probably would not be noticeable.
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It will certainly lower the pressure out through the hole, but in many cases with a regular grill pattern covering the hole a wee bit of standoff can be a good thing for the noise level. A really good fan needs no soft mounting though.