i7-6700k -still using poor thermal paste between die & heat spreader

Although Intel Corp.’s upcoming Core i7-6700K “Skylake-S” chip will likely become overclockers’ new darling, it looks like it will have the same drawback as currently available mainstream microprocessors with unlocked multiplier: inefficient internal thermal interface.

As reported, Intel Corp. started to ship production ready full-speed engineering samples of its next-generation desktop microprocessors code-named “Skylake-S” to its partners in early June. Thanks to the fact that the new chips are now available relatively widely (but not commercially), more information about them is revealed. According to a recent discovery by a Coolaler forum member, the new Intel Core i7-6700K processors will allegedly continue to use thermal paste as their internal thermal interface between die and heat-spreader (if the blurry photo below is to be believed), a bad news for overclockers.

In the last 15+ years virtually all desktop microprocessors from Intel featured metallic heat-spreaders (which many call lids) on their dies to protect the latter from damages and enable more efficient heat dissipation. For many years, Intel soldered dies to heat-spreaders using an exceptional Indium-based alloy, which enabled very efficient transfer of heat from silicon to metal. However, starting from the code-named “Ivy Bridge” central processing units Intel replaced the solder with a layer of thermal paste, which is considerably less efficient than the previously used alloy. For high-end desktop (HEDT) microprocessors, such as Intel Core i7 Extreme “Haswell-E”, the world’s largest chipmaker continues to use solder, thus providing exceptional thermal conductivity.

Many overclockers complained that in order to unlock maximum overclocking potential of the Core i7-3770K and the Core i7-4770K microprocessors they had to remove the heat-spreaders (de-lid the chips) and change thermal interface. To improve overclocking potential of its Core i7-4790K and Core i5-4690K “Devil’s Canyon” processors last year, Intel started to use its next-generation polymer thermal interface material, which is not bad, but is not as efficient as commercially available high-end thermal compounds.

As it appears from the blurry photo published at Coolaler forums, Intel will not solder heat-spreaders to its mainstream processors for enthusiasts, even if such chips are aimed at overclockers and are designed to run at high clock-rates. Apparently, if one wants to overclock Intel’s new chips to the max, he or she will need to switch Intel’s NGPTIM thermal interface first.

The blurry photo also reveals that the die size of Intel’s “Skylake-S” microprocessor is not large at all, which is means that it will be easy to overclock it; but its thermal density will be high, which means that it will not be easy to cool it down.


After reading the linked article, I realised the one thing the article fails to mention is why Intel don't solder these processors. If they are 'K' branded parts, I would hazard a guess that the majority of people are going to overclock them to some degree and if so, why not either add in a decent thermal paste in the first place or solder them like the Haswell-E chips?

I find it staggering that Intel limits its own products without a decent reason that I can see. They took the time to design and manufacture a chip like Skylake, then hold it back by trying to cut a corner at the last moment. Let's be honest, not too many people are going to be confident enough to start dissecting their brand new £250+ i7. For the sake of probably less than £1, they could actually apply a top consumer grade paste.. so why not!?

Am I missing something? Discuss...

Probably to try to force hardcore overclockers into using the more expensive Haswell-E cpu's and the enthusiast platforms in general

A possible point, but I can't believe that would be the only reason.

From everything I've seen, a 4790k edges out a 5960x at the same speed in a single threaded test, plus they clock higher. For that reason, someone who only needs 4 cores, is never going to pick 2011-3 as their socket of choice anyway, especially with the new 5-10% improvement of 6700k over 4790k.

People who buy Haswell-E (myself included) fall into a specific category of either Productivity, Benchmarker, or anticipating games to utilize more cores within their purchase's life-cycle (bit speculative, but I bet some may have been bought for that reason). This leaves the 4 core i7's, like Skylake for the gamer community. With graphics cards like the Titan X and 980ti in 3 or 4 way SLI, suddenly the CPU is the bottleneck in the system (proven to be the case with both 5960x and 4790k).. meaning every degree and consequently each 1 Mhz may translate into an increased FPS. Skylake already has a slight improvement, but lowering the thermals will only enable people the opportunity to overclock higher.

I can't get my head around it for the life of me.

Intel simply wants to segment the market. It's basically the same reason they're selling CPUs without vt-d or AVX (which I consider to be something all my processors should have), or no LGA 115x CPUs with more than 4 cores, or even CPUs without an unlocked multiplier.

Does anyone know what AMD is doing with their heat spreaders?

If AMD is soldering, perhaps this is a prime opportunity for them.

I agree with your subsequent points (vt-d, AVX etc), but this is something which no-one would know before buying, isn't advertised and most people will never find out. So I don't think your point applies to this.

I'd be interested to know to. I imagine with their high TDP, they may be using the best method possible.

AMD has pretty much always soldered the IHS since the Athlon 64 came out.

As for Intel, I think they are skipping solder to attempt making manufacturing just that bit cheaper and faster.

"Just that bit" inspires some thoughts. It would likely be a massive sum of savings, considering how many chips Intel makes yearly. On the other hand, bad press and bad news are bad press and bad news, and Intel like any other company needs the good will of their customers, corporate and invidual alike.

I would consider it illogical, but then Intel management and I clearly have a difference of opinion about what lower TDP is worth sacrificing for.

The solution is simple: don't buy that crap.

If Intel sees a 20% decrease in sales compared to previous launches, they will start soldering those things together faster than the wink of an eye.

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I think they'd just stop producing LGA115x i7s, seeing no demand for them. This is not how voting with your wallet works and you know it.

Buy AMD. It may mean throwing a little extra money at your favorite cooler manufacturer, but it IS voting with your wallet.

I de-lidded my 4770k and it looks like Skylake will be no exception. That being said, the 4770k is something I view as like a worst case scenario.

They WILL know WHY there is such a drastic increase in sales. (Today, we have great tools like the internet to communicate our opinions, you know).

Also, how does "voting with your wallet" work in your opinion?
Because IMHO, that's exactly how it works.

i suppose this is a rumor right?

Rumor, but not really an unlikely one considering its been Intel's default for the main stream socket for some while now

They could possibly be doing what they did with Haswell and the refresh but this time intentionally releasing them with terrible thermal paste only to "address" the thermal problems with the refresh a year later.
We will have to wait and see.

It confuses me that they solder the 2011 and 2011-3 socket CPU but not their consumer products. At least solder the unlocked skews and use cheap paste on normal parts in which consumers are mostly going to end up purchasing in their pre-built desktops.

why did they smear Vaseline on the camera lens? worst possible pic ever.

also the enthusiast market is the smallest segment. intel is a company, and as a company they follow one rule, PROFIT. if using cheap TIM will save them money they are gona do it and fuck all to the enthusiast.

Yup they are still soldered on the all the CPUs, even up to the 9590.