Delidding An Intel Core i9 CPU
Delidding a processor involves removing its integrated heat spreader, which sits on top of the delicate die and dissipates its thermal energy across a larger surface. We're looking to delid Intel's Core i9-7900X because the company's thermal compound isn't the highest-performance stuff out there, and we want to improve the chip's ability to transfer heat into a beefier cooler.
Back when Intel's Skylake-X-based CPUs launched, there was no tool available for delidding Core i9-7900X. We designed our own and introduced it in Tom's Hardware's Custom Core i9 De-Lidder. Check out that story for a step-by-step walk-through of the process.
To Clean, Or Not To Clean?
Before proceeding, we tested a couple of different preparations: there's the delidded processor on the left, and the delidded chip with its upper adhesive cleaned off on the right. We wanted to measure the temperature differences before and after cleaning. We used the same thermal paste in both cases, applying Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut between the die and IHS, and Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut between the IHS and heat sink.
Red finger nail polish covered the surface-mount components surrounding the die. Conductonaut is electrically conductive, so our goal was to prevent accidental short circuits.
Afterward, we prepared the processor for testing without its IHS. This is commonly referred to as direct-die cooling, and it naturally requires an even more delicate touch, since the die is completely exposed.
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