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Overclocker checks Intel Core i9-10900K delidding benefits

by Mark Tyson on 26 May 2020, 11:11

Tags: Intel (NASDAQ:INTC)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qaelru

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HEXUS had the Intel Core i9-10900K, and Core i5-10600K, under scrutiny in the labs last week. Intel's latest enthusiast/gamer champ choice is a 125W TDP (but consumes up to 200W under load) processor, packing 10C/20T, and clock speeds boosting as high as 5.2GHz (claimed 5.3GHz TVB peak, and 4.8GHz all-core boost). We noted that Intel improves thermals and headroom by using thinner silicon and thicker heatspreaders for this 10th gen Core desktop line. For our tests we used the capable Noctua NH-D15S air cooler with 140mm PWM fan.

Ours was a pretty capable off the shelf setup, but what could be achieved by delidding the processor, adding liquid metal thermal compound, and strapping on a chunky LCS? YouTuber der8auer has stepped in to answer that question and interestingly compares the results vs previous gen Intel Core i9-9900K (8C/16T, 95W) and i7- 8700K (6C/12T, 95W) processors.

The DeLid DieMate 2 had to be rotated 180 degrees and used a second time, due to the softness of the Indium solder. Once off it was immediately apparent that the Intel Core i9-10900K die was about the same width as the 9900K, but taller. Some comparative measurements were taken by der8auer, and I have included screenshots of these comparisons below.

After de-lidding, measuring and other comparisons, der8auer went ahead and added liquid metal thermal compound to the chip die/HIS, and he re-ran the suite of tests which were undertaken ahead of this process. Below you can see der8auers notes showing the new temperatures of the 10900K cores with a Notepad superimposed showing the previous core temperatures and observed differential. The delidding and liquid metal change resulted in processor cores running between 4 and 9 degrees cooler.

While the above temperature results look encouraging, the OC expert warns uses who go through the process not to expect to be able to get 200MHz extra max clocks from their processors, rather any benefits "will be quite small".



HEXUS Forums :: 29 Comments

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Intel have had to improve thermals as they've thrown loads of power at the chip to get extra performance. I expect most people to experience poor OC headroom.

I would like to know why CPUs were given heatspreaders? I remember back in the day we didn't have them atop CPUs and on a certain model of AMD chip you could use a pencil to draw on a connection to unlock the multiplier. It makes sense that, if done well, a heatspreader would increase the area available for removing heat from the CPU but, if done poorly, it reduces thermal conductivity.

Is it just because most coolers are cheap and in those cases a heatspreader is better?
Also remember it improves processor durability as the process gets smaller the actual chips get smaller and the contact area is reduced. look at the contact patches for the above processors - putting a cooler on badly could easily damage them and you get an extra layer of protection
philehidiot
Intel have had to improve thermals as they've thrown loads of power at the chip to get extra performance. I expect most people to experience poor OC headroom.

I would like to know why CPUs were given heatspreaders? I remember back in the day we didn't have them atop CPUs and on a certain model of AMD chip you could use a pencil to draw on a connection to unlock the multiplier. It makes sense that, if done well, a heatspreader would increase the area available for removing heat from the CPU but, if done poorly, it reduces thermal conductivity.

Is it just because most coolers are cheap and in those cases a heatspreader is better?

Doing away with the heatspreader and, on high-end coolers, a few quids worth of silver on the contact surface would, I think, work better. Silver is a much better conductor of heat than copper.
Well the clue is in the name really, a heatspreader spreads heat. Provided there's a half-decent thermal interface between the die and the heatspreader, it makes effective cooling far more straightforward and reduces risks of hot-spots on the die, reduces risks where the heatsink base isn't completely flat, and in most real-world cases will simply give better thermal results than a bare die touching a heatsink base - the heatspreader will typically be copper (very conductive) and effectively takes heat from a very small surface area (high power density) and spreads it to a much larger surface area (lower power density), making the thermal interface between it and the cooler much less sensitive. Even in this video he replaces the stock thermal interface material with another one, the heatspreader stays right where it is to do its job.

'Back in the day', CPUs didn't have anywhere close to the power density seen on modern processors so were much easier to cool effectively.

The heatspreader also adds a great deal of mechanical strength to the CPU and amongst other things prevents the risk of cracked dies.
Friesiansam
Doing away with the heatspreader and, on high-end coolers, a few quids worth of silver on the contact surface would, I think, work better. Silver is a much better conductor of heat than copper.

In a handful of edge cases a bare die might provide marginally better results, and people who want to achieve that are free to delid. Silver is only marginally better than copper in terms of thermal conductivity and you'd need more than a plating for it to be worthwhile anyway.

Edit: Some figures to back up what I'm saying about thermal conductivity.

Copper: 401W/(m.K)
Silver: 419W/(m.K)

At room temperature. Source: https://neutrium.net/heat_transfer/thermal-conductivity-of-metals-and-alloys/