Intel comments on Alder Lake CPU socket flexing

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Since the launch of Alder Lake, there have been concerns about its rectangular shape and how it could affect cooling. Previously, each Intel chip was basically square, generating heat at the center of the Integrated Heat Spreader (IHS). This created a simple situation where Cooler contacted the IHS. Although the extended design of Alder Lake is different, there is a larger surface area where pressure needs to be applied. The process that Intel uses to secure the socket on the motherboard and how the CPU locks into the socket complicates the situation. So far users have been reporting that the locking mechanism applies pressure unevenly. As a result, it bends the motherboards and flexes the CPU sockets. After months of silence, Intel has finally responded. TL; DR It is: It is according to all the features.

In January, Igor Lab made headlines by solving a flexible problem by raising the socket through a rubber washer. After examining different washers of different thicknesses, he found that a 1MM washer had raised the socket sufficiently to apply equal pressure to the IHS. This results in a drop in temperature to 5C, which is significant. Obviously this is not something that your average computer user will do due to technical challenges. After all, you need to remove the socket from your motherboard and then replace it. According to Intel, this is something that no one should do, because it will void your warranty.

A straight edge above the Alder Lake CPU that has seen hundreds of hours of operation shows a noticeably concave shape for the heat spreader. (Photo: Eger Lab)

While talking to Tom Hardware, an Intel spokesman outlined the company’s position on the issue. “Due to changes to the Integrated Heat Spreader (IHS), we have not received reports that the 12th Gen Intel Core processor has run out of specifications. Our internal data shows that the 12th Gen desktop processor may have a slight deviation after installation in the IHS socket. Such minor deviations are expected and do not cause the processor to run outside the specification. We strongly recommend against any change in the socket or independent loading process. Such a change would result in the processor going out of specification and the warranty of any product could be canceled. ”

Reading between the lines here, they basically say “it may be a bit crooked, sure, but it won’t go beyond its specification.” Note that the specification of a chip like 12900K is that it can run at 100C and this has been done in many reviews. Intel also mentions that the chip is only capable of running at its base clock, not its boost clock. It never guarantees that it will hit its boost clock speed, just that it will never go below the base clock. Also, the chip will automatically throttle itself to stay within its thermal properties, which reduces performance. Overall, this is not a good situation, at least for those who buy these high-end chips.

Tom asked a bunch of follow-up questions to get some clarity about the hardware situation (link above). Intel says the distortion is caused by a process that locks the CPU into a socket. According to Intel, “When the backplate is bent on the motherboard, warping occurs due to the mechanical load placed on the motherboard for electrical communication between the CPU and the socket.” It has so far said it is not concerned because CPUs will still operate within the specs. It adds that it is examining the situation. However, there are no plans to change its socket design or locking mechanism in the near future. Overall it looks like an artistic dodge, but at least the company admits it exists. This is a good first step, and we’ll probably see an LGA 2.0 socket when the company’s Raptor Lake CPU launches later this year.

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