12 LGA Processor Heat Spreader Removal

In our endless attempts to squeeze out the last MHz from our processors, some of us have resorted to removing the integrated heat spreaders on our processors in a bid to improve thermal efficiency, to garner that 2-3 degrees, and trade it for that final 10MHz. The LGA socket processors use a solder thermal interface between the core and the heatspreader so removing it involves more than just cutting past the rubber linings. Well, I just went out on a daredevil…

In our endless attempts to squeeze out the last MHz from our processors, some of us have resorted to removing the integrated heat spreaders (commonly refered to as IHS among enthusiasts) on our processors in a bid to improve thermal efficiency, to garner that 2-3 degrees, and trade it for that final 10MHz.

This is not a major roadblock for the AMD processor overclocker since the contact between the heatspreader and the core is made with thermal paste. This is a major problem however when it comes to the Intel LGA socket users. The LGA socket processors use a solder thermal interface between the core and the heatspreader so removing it involves more than just cutting past the rubber linings. In many cases, users have ripped off the entire core as they pry desperately.

For sure I’ve heard enough of horror stories to be aware of the issue, including first-hand description from my mate Visionary. But I decided that I had to try it with both the hard and soft approach. Basically, it was quite clear cut, as long as I could heat the heatspreader to the temperature the solder melts, I should be able to remove the heatspreader. We’ve thought of quite a few ideas, from boiling water to torches to TECs… in the end, I decided to go with a hot air gun.

My friend Vinnzz was helpful enough to lend me his, the real deal, Bosch, good control, focused heat, the works.

2 LGA Processor Heat Spreader Removal

Of course, I was in no hurry to try this on the latest most powerful Conroe X6800 we have on hand. So I took out a Pentium 4 3.0E from my workstation PC and started cutting through the black rubber linings. It was easier than what it was on the Athlon 64s, and since all the SMD components are located on the back of the core, so I did not really have to worry too much about cutting into those.

1 LGA Processor Heat Spreader Removal

And so in less than 5 minutes, it was clean of the rubber linings, all that is holding the heatspreader on is just the solder between the core and heatspreader. So I moved the processor onto a bench vice I used to clamp it on so that it would be easier to blow hot air over it and pry the IHS off quickly before the solder hardens.