Installing The Direct Die Frame
Delidding is already pretty advanced. With our Direct Die Frame, we take things to another level. Rather than temporarily removing the IHS to replace the thermal paste underneath, and then replacing it, the DDF concept calls for leaving it off. In theory, it is preferable to have less material between the die and heat sink to improve the transfer of thermal energy away from the CPU.
As mentioned, though, the die is more fragile in this unprotected configuration. The setup process isn't particularly difficult, but we still wouldn't recommend it to inexperienced overclockers who aren't accustomed to more extreme modifications like these.
Without its IHS, the processor can no longer be held securely in its motherboard interface. Extreme overclocker Der8auer developed a tool for addressing this conundrum: the direct die frame. In the photo below, MSI's locking system is on the left, while Der8auer’s DDF is on the right.
- Step 1: Remove the four locking screws using the provided key.
- Step 2 : Stick adhesive pads onto the back of the plate bundled with the DDF.
- Step 3: On the motherboard's back side, replace the original plate with the one you just prepared.
The adhesive pads are very strong. Der8auer advises that you put all four of them in place, but that you only expose one. Leave the red part on the three others, allowing you to remove the plate later on, if needed.
- Step 4: Place the processor in what is left of the socket.
When using the DDF, it is recommended that you remove all leftover adhesive from the IHS. To prevent damage to the processor’s PCB, do not use hard or sharp objects. Also, be careful not to tear off any of the surface-mounted components.
- Step 5: Place the DDF on your board and secure it into place using four screws and the provided key. It only fits one way. If you don't get it right, the DDF won't sit flat.
Tighten the screws in an X pattern, switching diagonally from one to the next, to ensure a secure fit.
- Step 6: Assemble your cooler, which should theoretically be compatible. Sadly, the screws from our EK-Supremacy stuck out slightly from the cooling plate. As a result, the block wouldn't make contact with the die. It turned out that the screws on the bottom of the water block caused it to push on the DDF instead of the die.
After reaching out to EK about this issue, the company let us know that compatibility problems were limited to products it manufactured more than a year ago. We did get our hands on a more modern version of the Supremacy and can confirm the problem was resolved. The DDF didn't even exist one year ago, so we can't fault EK here.
All the same, make sure that your water block is compatible before purchasing a DDF of your own. More than anything, it's best to check that nothing protrudes into the lower surface of your block.
Not wanting to wait for a fix (before we knew one was available), and not wanting to start over with another cooling solution, we decided to modify our water block and make it work with the DDF.
Conceptually, the operation was simple: use a counterbore to expand the four screw holes and completely countersink the screw heads into the base. Reality wasn't nearly that tidy, though.
As soon as the first shavings appeared, the cooling plate's protective nickel layer came up. Of course, water blocks aren’t intended to be modified like this. But the outcome was still surprising, causing us to question the protective layer's quality.
With deeper holes dug and the nickel coating removed, our water block was ready for action. With a bit of Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut between our block and the CPU's die, we were ready to start testing.
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