People are grinding down the heat spreaders on their Ryzen 7000 CPUs for better cooling
Are you looking for a way to lower your Ryzen 7000-series CPU temperature while also voiding your warranty? Sure you are. Some PC builders have actually resorted to grinding off the heat spreader on the Zen 4 processors to reportedly help improve cooling.
PC hardware YouTuber JayzTwoCents (opens in new tab) (via Tom’s Hardware (opens in new tab)) reduced the temperature of a Ryzen 9 7950X up to 10°C by shaving down the CPU’s IHS by .08mm. The internal heat spreader on the Ryzen 7000 CPUs is 3.6mm, which is on the thicker side to make them compatible with coolers on AM4 motherboards.
This method is called lapping (opens in new tab), which requires a grinding tool, cleaning materials, and a lot of patience. You do this to remove tiny air gaps between the CPU and heatsink for better heat transfer, though in this case, it’s simply to reduce the thickness of the heat spreader. The goal is the same; better cooling for better performance.
Lapping isn’t a new technique; it’s an old one for overclockers. But it’s fallen out of favor in recent years, alongside replacing an unsoldered chip’s thermal paste with a liquid metal or a more suitable paste. Nowadays, chipmakers tend to do this stuff themselves. Clearly, we were overdue for a comeback.
JayzTwoCents saw a decrease in temperatures from around 95°C to 85°C. He saw a slight temperature bump (approximately 90°C) when maxing out all the cores to 5.40GHz. Still, it has surprisingly effective results despite needing a grinding tool and some sandpaper.
This hack isn’t for amateurs, and you need to make sure you’ve removed any excess particulates and residue after the lapping process since those are conductive, and that would be bad news for your CPU and PC when you boot up.
Attempting this modification on your CPU will void the warranty, so practice extreme caution. If you grind it too low and don’t mount the CPU right, the gap from the CPU to the cooler will cause a temperature spike. The same issue can happen if you opt for removing IMS entirely, which is what hardware YouTuber der8auer (opens in new tab)did and saw even more significant decreases in temperature of up to 20 degrees Celsius.
Again, this used to be something we did in ye olden days of processors (a half-decade ago), and you can still purchase copper IHS kits (opens in new tab) if you dare risk removing the IHS from a soldered CPU.
The AMD Ryzen 9 7950X (opens in new tab) is a powerful multithread monster known to run hot, so I can see why hardware enthusiasts are looking for ways to cool things down without spending cash on an expensive CPU cooler. Also, grinding and sanding stuff is objectively a fun thing to do.