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Some CPU Coolers may damage Intel Skylake CPUs, Companies respond

Intel Skylake has a thinner substrate compared to the previous generation Haswell Processors. But it seems that some CPU coolers may apply more pressure on the socket once installed that the end result would be a damaged pins on the LGA 1151 socket and bending the Intel Skylake desktop processor.

Intel Skylake LGA socket

The news broke out from the finding of a German based website Games Hardware. It indicated that some CPU Coolers with screws (especially spring loaded screws) will exert too much pressure on the LGA 1151 socket based Intel Skylake processor, like the hardware enthusiast-centric Intel I7-6700K. This is a concern, especially since unlocked processors usually get picked up by enthusiasts who will use aftermarket CPU coolers for overclocking.

intel cpu substrate

In layman’s terms, a substrate is a foundation for having all the processor’s components over and under it, which then sits on the motherboard socket’s frame. A socket processor is made of following components:

  • Integrated Heatspreader (IHS)
  • Thermal Interface Material (TIM)
  • Core (Die)
  • Substrate
  • Contact points
  • Capacitors

When too much force is applied by an aftermarket CPU cooler over the installed processor with a thin substrate, it would not only damage the substrate, therefore damaging any contact points from interfacing the socket’s pin, but also damages the pin on the motherboard itself. While there is a certain chance of re-aligning the socket pins on the motherboard in place (unless it’s irreparably damaged which would require a socket replacement), the processor is not.

But what’s interesting is that despite Skylake CPUs have thinner substrate, it’s designed to take the same maximum mounting pressure as that for Haswell CPUs. Intel has a maximum pressure rating for up to 50 lbs/22.6kgs for both Haswell and the Skylake CPUs. But another factor needs to be taken into consideration is the size of some third party CPU coolers.The heatsink’s mass is supposed to be 500 grams with a maximum center of mass from the processor’s IHS to be 25.4mm. Many CPU coolers, even some 140mm tower cooler, would easily cross the specification.

But why would Intel use a thinner substrate, especially knowing that majority of the enthusiasts use high performance (and heavy) air CPU coolers? However, Intel did give a statement below:

The design specifications and guidelines for the 6th Gen Intel Core processor using the LGA 1151 socket are unchanged from previous generations and are available for partners and 3rd party manufacturers. Intel can’t comment on 3rd party designs or their adherence to the recommended design specifications. For questions about a specific cooling product, we must defer to the manufacturer.

Speaking of third party CPU cooling companies, Noctua have given the following statement about its SecurFirm2 mounting system:

Our SecuFirm2 mounting systems undergo comprehensive compatibility tests before being approved for new platforms. We have neither detected any problem with regard to the Intel LGA11151 platform (“Skylake”) during these tests nor have we received any reports from our customers, sales partners and system integrators that would indicate any possible issue. Our SecuFirm2 mounting systems (with the exception of some compact L-type models) rely on coil springs to create the required contact pressure, which gives a certain flexibility both with regards to tolerances in stackup height and shocks or other forces. Compared to spring-less mounting systems, which exclusively rely on the bending of the mounting brackets in order to create contact pressure, this allows to reduce the mechanical stress on CPU, socket and motherboard and thus helps to prevent possible damage from excessive forces. However, as it is not possible to reliably calculate or control the forces that act upon a system during transport (e.g. in shipping), we generally recommend, due to safety reasons, to take off coolers with a total weight of more than 700g (incl. fan).

We asked Coolermaster India. Though they haven’t given a reply yet, the source did post official statements from multiple brands.

VIA: 1

Edit (08.12.2015): Coolermaster issued the following statement:

Cooler Master has been at the forefront of Cooling Technology since its inception. With the Cooler Master designed heat-sink technology in your coolers, you are getting the best standards of thermal cooler in the world. Every cooler we ship meets Cooler Master’s highest standards for providing incredible performance, regardless of the design or model.

We would like to reaffirm our commitment to all our fans and supporters that you can rest assured, all air and liquid coolingproducts from Cooler Master are not affected by the mounting issue.

For a complete list of Cooler Master compatible products for Intel socket LGA 1151 please click here.

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