Overclocking wizards at Igor’s Lab looked into user-reported cooling issues with Intel’s new LGA 1700 socket. Although Alder Lake processors heat up under full load, the problem is not the heat caused by the processor. People are finding that the Integrated Heat Sink (IHS) on top of the chip is warping causing less than optimal contact between the CPU and the cooling mechanism. This of course leads to all sorts of questions about which part is at fault here, as many factors contribute to the amount of pressure applied to a processor’s heat sink, and more importantly, or it is applied.
The main problem with Intel’s new socket is that to accommodate the company’s first hybrid processor architecture, which combines both performance and efficiency cores in a single package, the company had to make its processors more rectangular than its previous offerings. The LGA 1200 and all consumer processors that followed it were essentially square, with most of the heat coming from a core in the center of the processor. With Alder Lake and its hybrid architecture and rectangular shape, it’s more complicated. Even before the launch of the new processors, there was a plethora of articles discussing whether the coolers designed for previous processors would even be able to cover the areas that needed cooling in LGA 1700, and we also talked about that when we got a glimpse of the redesigned intake, noting that reusing an old cooler probably wouldn’t be effective.
However, the problem now is warped heat sinks, which are made from a thin piece of nickel-plated copper and rely on the CPU itself to interface with the cooling mechanism. From Igor’s lab, the Integrated Loading Mechanism (ILM) on the socket, which is the device that secures the CPU in the socket itself, applies pressure unevenly, and the result is curved heat sinks.
This is a big deal because Igor’s measurements show that small but significant gaps can occur between the heat sink and the cooler on it. Although thermal paste can help “fill the gap” so to speak, it is not designed to cover gaps this big, so it’s not very efficient. The main cause for this is that the ILM presses against the middle sides of the socket, instead of the corners like in previous sockets, which pushes the heat sink down in the center. Another factor that may or may not be contributing here is that Alder Lake has a noticeably lower Z-height than the LGA 1200, which supported z-heights of 7.312mm to 8.249mm. The LGA1700 is slimmer, with a z-height of 6.529 to 7.532 mm.
So what is the solution ? Igor’s Labs writes that buildzoid at Actual Hardcore Overclockers had a “mod” theory that the problem could be solved by increasing the socket height with washers, which Igor tested and validated. He writes, “the washers are simply installed between the motherboard and the ILM, causing it to sit higher and thus putting less stress on the CPU in the socket.” To do this, all you need to do is remove the four M4 Torx T20 screws that hold the ILM down, then insert M4 washers over each of the holes.
To see which puck thickness worked best, Igor’s lab tested a range of sizes including 0.5mm, 0.8mm, 1.0mm and 1.3mm. In their testing they found that the ideal length was 1mm, and anything larger than that provided diminishing returns, and he also found that anything thicker than 1.8mm was impractical due to the length of the ILM screws.
After all pucks were tested, the 1mm puck came out on top. In the benchmarks, it was able to lower the average temperature under load by an impressive 5.76C. It was on a Core i9-12900K with the E cores disabled and the P cores running at 5.1 GHz on liquid. Without any pucks, the CPU peaked at 76.64°C, then dropped to 70.88°C with the puck added. All in all, that’s a significant cooling gain with such a simple modification. The only caveat here is that Igor’s Lab says they’re not sure if this “situation” applies to all LGA 1700 cards, but he notes that there are only two companies making the ‘ILM, which are Lotes and Foxconn, so they will try to test more of them in the future.
- Intel 12th-Gen Alder Lake: News, Rumors, Release Date, More
- 12th Generation Intel Alder Lake processors now available with power to rival Apple’s M1 Max
- Intel 12th-gen Core CPUs are official: Performance preview, Alder Lake models and specs
- Intel 12th-Gen Core Alder Lake Architectural Benchmark
- Intel Core i7-12700H Review: Alder Lake on the Go