This cheap mod makes the Core i9-12900KS run 9 degrees cooler

Tudor Cibean

Posts: 119   +8
Staff
The big picture: Rockit's IHS replacement kit aims to improve the thermal transfer capability of Intel's 12th gen processors. Combined with liquid metal between the heat spreader and the CPU die, they are advertising an up to 15-degree drop in temperatures. Linus Sebastian puts this claim to the test in his latest video.

Keeping Intel's flagship Core i9-12900KS from thermal throttling isn't an easy task, as seen in our review. That's why YouTube tech channel LinusTechTips set out to delid the $740 processor.

For the uninitiated, delidding a CPU involves removing the IHS from the top of the processor and replacing the thermal interface material underneath. While this is nothing new, it has become a lot harder to do since Intel started soldering the heatspreader to the CPU die a few generations ago.

Linus and his crew start by using a heat gun to soften up the solder before removing the IHS with the help of a delid tool. They follow this up by scrubbing the glue off the interposer and polishing the CPU die until there's no more solder left.

Next up, they carefully apply liquid metal to the die and underneath the new IHS. The Rockit IHS features a 9.5% higher surface area in comparison to the stock one and is also machined to be as flat as possible. Lastly, they apply some new glue, reassemble the CPU, and stick it into a relidding tool.

The test setup consisted of a custom water cooling loop for the CPU and an RTX 3090 Ti. In Prime95 and Blender, the mod lowered temperatures by about 9 degrees while allowing the processor to boost for longer. Average FPS in Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Forza Horizon 5 remained identical, but the CPU scores went up by around 3%.

Be sure to check out the video for the entire walkthrough. While this is a relatively cheap way to improve performance on a thermally-constrained CPU, it should be noted that delidding is inherently risky and will void your warranty.

Permalink to story.

 

Nanochip

Posts: 72   +112
Makes you wonder why Intel doesn't do this at the factory, as well as add more gaming cache? Alder Lake has higher IPC than Zen 3 and performs better in many (most? all?) single core tasks. Yet with 3D Cache, AMD rockets to the top or near the top of the gaming charts. Clearly Alder Lake is being bottlenecked, and leaving performance on the table. It is bottlenecked both by the IHS design (in terms of higher temps) as well as limited amounts of cache. Hopefully Intel is taking note and iterates on its designs to remove as many bottlenecks as possible. If I remember correctly, Raptor Lake is set to add some more cache...

Kudos to AMD (and TSMC) for discovering how to stack cache in the 3rd dimension, and that doing so would yield a tangible and repeatable benefit in certain workloads.
 

hahahanoobs

Posts: 4,526   +2,496
$800 12900KS
$35 copper IHS
$80 for delidding tool
?? Glue
?? Stuff they used to eat away the solder
$$$ 360mm Custom water cooling
$ Graphene coolant
??/$$ Borrow/Buy a heat gun
??/$$ Something to tell you the solder is hot enough to start delidding
$ Liquid metal

I watched the video earlier. Cool, but dumber than the 3090 Ti.
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 3,425   +5,735
Makes you wonder why Intel doesn't do this at the factory, as well as add more gaming cache? Alder Lake has higher IPC than Zen 3 and performs better in many (most? all?) single core tasks. Yet with 3D Cache, AMD rockets to the top or near the top of the gaming charts. Clearly Alder Lake is being bottlenecked, and leaving performance on the table. It is bottlenecked both by the IHS design (in terms of higher temps) as well as limited amounts of cache. Hopefully Intel is taking note and iterates on its designs to remove as many bottlenecks as possible. If I remember correctly, Raptor Lake is set to add some more cache...

Kudos to AMD (and TSMC) for discovering how to stack cache in the 3rd dimension, and that doing so would yield a tangible and repeatable benefit in certain workloads.
I was thinking the same thing. Probably the only answer is $$$$$$.
It's always $$$, mainly in labor. This type of lapping the top of the die then applying liquid metal is bothvery labor intensive and cannot be reliably done automatically. To do this to all their K series would require a seperate production line and dedicated personel, that costs a lot and wouldnt nab intel much gain.

The K series are small fish for intel, still an important market, but nowhere big enough to justify the expense, that money would be better spent on server parts that drawf the K series in both volume and margin.
 

yRaz

Posts: 4,524   +5,386
It's always $$$, mainly in labor. This type of lapping the top of the die then applying liquid metal is bothvery labor intensive and cannot be reliably done automatically. To do this to all their K series would require a seperate production line and dedicated personel, that costs a lot and wouldnt nab intel much gain.

The K series are small fish for intel, still an important market, but nowhere big enough to justify the expense, that money would be better spent on server parts that drawf the K series in both volume and margin.
Frankly, it's probably more the liquid metal and raw copper than the lapping of the heat spreader. I mean, while you're in there, lap it up. But removing the Nickle as an insulating layer on both sides and applying liquid metal is probably where most of the magic happens.
 

elementalSG

Posts: 270   +478
I delidded my almost 10 year old i7-3770K and used liquid metal last year. Was pretty cool to watch temps drop 15 degrees Celsius and finally hit a stable 4.6Ghz when I could never pass 4.4Ghz in the past. Dunno if I would be brave enough to try on a brand new 12900KS though
 

PCNP543

Posts: 15   +22
It's a good project for overclockers, but 99% of people should just buy a 5800X3D and that's if they absolutely cannot wait 8 months or so for Ryzen 7800x on AM5 and hopefully reasonable DDR5 prices by then (Though don't count on that last part)

The 5800X3D is about 1/2 the performance of the 12900K on multithreaded apps. This might come as a shock, but not everyone plays video games.
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 2,216   +4,268
The 5800X3D is about 1/2 the performance of the 12900K on multithreaded apps. This might come as a shock, but not everyone plays video games.
AMD also sells the 5950x now at a greatly discounted price if you need multithreaded performance.

Don't get me wrong I understand that there's very specific use cases where the 12900K might end up winning even against the 5950x I am just saying that whenever you want to emphazie gaming or multithreaded performance AMD has an option for both at still reasonable power and heat levels whereas intel is basically brute forcing it's way through both crowns with a single chip but is probably not worth it for most people on either productivity or gaming sides.
 

brucek

Posts: 1,153   +1,713
I'd definitely pay a few more bucks up front for a 9 degree drop, even if it came with no performance benefit at all. A less hot and less noisy laptop is enough benefit for me. I wonder if the costs could even be balanced out by requiring a less elaborate cooling system.

I'm not going to do this myself, but it's also frustrating to know your system is hotter than it could be.
 

BigRedPDX

Posts: 284   +200
That's a lot of work for only 9 degrees. Maybe a good project for when the AM5 chipsets come out. I like to push my old systems beyond their capabilities.
 

mbk34

Posts: 341   +236
"This cheap mod ..."
It's cheap to do if you have the skills and can afford to destroy a brand new, top of the range, CPU. Best method though is to get the i7-12700F which is half the price and runs way cooler.
 

StrikerRocket

Posts: 131   +96
This all started in 2012 with the infamous/ignominous Core i7 3770K and its absolutely terrible thermal paste under the IHS. I had just bought one when a Japanese website discovered the truth about this SCAM. Yes, this is a scam in my opinion! Selling a K processor at a premium to undermine its capabilities with a DESIGNED flaw, what do you call it?
This CPU is still rocking in a computer my wife and kids use, but I still haven't swallowed this bitter pill! Seems like Intel still hasn't learned its lesson and continue to ship premium CPUs with less than perfect thermal dissipation. Duh...
 

PCNP543

Posts: 15   +22
AMD also sells the 5950x now at a greatly discounted price if you need multithreaded performance.

Don't get me wrong I….

I get it, and I’m not an Intel fanboy by any means, but it’s a bit suspect when any comment on anything remotely related to Intel is “AMD…”.

AMD has been making great processors for a while now, but I just went with a 12900k, even with its horrible thermals, primarily because the AM4 platform is basically at the end of the road, having been released 6 years ago. Microsoft now putting rather arbitrary system requirements on Windows had me leery of building a new system based on an already aging platform.

Like it or not, I need Windows for my work apps, and the extra $500 or so that the 12900 and DDR5 cost over a 5950 system is not a concern over the 6+ years I’ll be using it.


 

PCNP543

Posts: 15   +22
This all started in 2012 with the infamous/ignominous Core i7 3770K and its absolutely terrible thermal paste under the IHS. I had just bought one when a Japanese website discovered the truth about this SCAM. Yes, this is a scam in my opinion!

Funny, the 3770K was my first system built specifically with overclocking in mind. It’s still running perfectly fine at 4.2 ghz as my sons gaming PC after having been my render system for years. It heats his room nicely during winter, but aside from that, I have no complaints and it sure doesn’t qualify as a scam. What cooler did you use? I went with a NH-D14 and have used Noctua ever since as a result. LTT did a video a while back and found the D15 beat even a 360 AIO in thermals and noise. Kinda like how some people blindly default to AMD, some blindly default to water cooling when it’s not always the best choice.
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 2,216   +4,268
I get it, and I’m not an Intel fanboy by any means, but it’s a bit suspect when any comment on anything remotely related to Intel is “AMD…”.

AMD has been making great processors for a while now, but I just went with a 12900k, even with its horrible thermals, primarily because the AM4 platform is basically at the end of the road, having been released 6 years ago. Microsoft now putting rather arbitrary system requirements on Windows had me leery of building a new system based on an already aging platform.

Like it or not, I need Windows for my work apps, and the extra $500 or so that the 12900 and DDR5 cost over a 5950 system is not a concern over the 6+ years I’ll be using it.
You're making a few assumptions about AMD here: the responses of suggesting AMD are limited exclusively to Zen 2 or 3 chips. Zen 1 and 1+ still didn't quite perform well enough and you had to want to get more than 4/8 options for them to make sense and well, anything between Zen and the now ancient Phenoms from AMD was just a failed experiment supported only by the highly biased fans. Not to mention Radeon products that have been consistently worst than the competition except for maybe the R9 280 and that one became popular only because it had so many rebrandings and relaunchings

With that out of the way I don't disagree with your reasoning for going with 12900k except you should probably remember a significant (Or at least, significant enough) subsector of the custom pc market right now have Zen 2 rigs they would like to upgrade. I know it's not as long a cycle as your target of 6 years but AMD managed to uphold their promises about AM4 platform at least partially, meaning some people planned for an in-motherboard upgrade so got something like a 3600 with the plan to upgrade eventually.

So even though right now you would have to wait until end of 2022 or possibly (And more realistically) early 2023 to jump to AM5, the issue you're talking about I see as mostly a timing issue: If you need a rig *now* it's a slightly better idea to use a platform like Alder Lake sure. But this is a window of time that's very little compared to the many years AMD actually supported AM4 and is likely to at least attempt to support AM5. So except for again, this very specific point in time, the things are kind of the opposite of what you mention here: AMD platforms are fare more desirable for someone who is looking to hold on to the same system for 5+ years.

In fact if AMD manages to improve upon the Gen 1 AM4 boards that took them a while to get patched to future CPU releases due to the decision to have very limited BIOS space this time for AM5 it is possible that you could be looking at another 3 generations (And 2-3 of the "+" node improvements) of chips on a single platform. You might not need to upgrade the system much, but it's always nicer to have the option to vs not having one.
 

Nanochip

Posts: 72   +112
It's always $$$, mainly in labor. This type of lapping the top of the die then applying liquid metal is bothvery labor intensive and cannot be reliably done automatically. To do this to all their K series would require a seperate production line and dedicated personel, that costs a lot and wouldnt nab intel much gain.

The K series are small fish for intel, still an important market, but nowhere big enough to justify the expense, that money would be better spent on server parts that drawf the K series in both volume and margin.
They could’ve done something special for the KS special edition. They’re charging $150 more. They’re not going to move a ton of these units. Would’ve liked to have seen more attention to detail for the extra cost. At least with AMD’s 5800x3D you get more cache. Here you basically get a 12900k with AVX512 fused off, and you don’t get any more cache or a more thermally efficient IHS design. Meh.
 

Bobbydpue

Posts: 359   +242
It's a good project for overclockers, but 99% of people should just buy a 5800X3D and that's if they absolutely cannot wait 8 months or so for Ryzen 7800x on AM5 and hopefully reasonable DDR5 prices by then (Though don't count on that last part)
I can't image recommending an expensive CPU, on a dead platform, that's only good for one things or recommending that hasn't been announced yet, or a product without any third party benchmarks, prices or availability. It will be AMD's first platform update since AM4 and it will be Intel's second on their latest platform. Why would you recommend anything without objective data or without comparing it to what else is available? Stop fanboying over a company that doesn't care about you. AMD cares about you as much as Intel does, you shouldn't give you money to AMD or Intel unless they make a better product and/or are much better priced.
 
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Bobbydpue

Posts: 359   +242
$800 12900KS
$35 copper IHS
$80 for delidding tool
?? Glue
?? Stuff they used to eat away the solder
$$$ 360mm Custom water cooling
$ Graphene coolant
??/$$ Borrow/Buy a heat gun
??/$$ Something to tell you the solder is hot enough to start delidding
$ Liquid metal

I watched the video earlier. Cool, but dumber than the 3090 Ti.
I don't think it's fair to call something you aren't interested in "dumb". Custom cooling loops don't make a lot of sense to those who don't care about that kind of thing, but that doesn't make them "dumb". At no time did anyone say this was a great way to save money this reminds me of people who bring of the cost of maintaining a luxury car. No one buys luxury cars to save money and no one builds custom loops to save money either.
 

hahahanoobs

Posts: 4,526   +2,496
I don't think it's fair to call something you aren't interested in "dumb". Custom cooling loops don't make a lot of sense to those who don't care about that kind of thing, but that doesn't make them "dumb". At no time did anyone say this was a great way to save money this reminds me of people who bring of the cost of maintaining a luxury car. No one buys luxury cars to save money and no one builds custom loops to save money either.
What?!