The Intel Skylake CPUs are getting very popular at the moment. For a much better cooling performance many users are removing the heatspreader from the CPU. This has some negative effects on the secure installation of the CPUs. Aqua Computer has developed a protective spacer to allow a much more secure mounting and usage of Skylake CPUs without the original heat spreader. The spacer is available at a price of 6.99 Euro.
Why is it recommended to use a spacer after removing the heat spreader? The first problem is that the brittle silicon die is not protected against tilted mounting of a CPU cooler – due to this fact edges of the die can easily be broken. The same issue can happen during transportation of the system.
The next problem is the dissipiation of the CPU cooler clamping force after removal of the heatspreader. With the mounted heatspreader the force is dissipated to the outer areas of the heatspreader contact surfaces. Below this surfaces the PCB of the CPU is in direct contact with the socket and this results in nearly no deflection of the CPU package. This is very important especially for the Skylake CPU as the PCB substrate is thinner than at previous CPU generations and the die is much smaller which results in much higher surface pressure.
Making this problem even worse, directly beneath the die there is a pocket in the socket. As there is no direct contact to dissipate the force to the socket any clamping force will result in a deflection of the CPU package and damages can occur.
To address these issues Aqua Computer has developed a CNC laser machined spacer consisting of a precision stainless spring steel sheet and a very thin heat resistant adhesive tape. The sheet is sanded after laser cutting to deburr it perfectly. This is important as for maximum protection the height of the spacer is only some 1/100 mm lower than the CPU die.
Due to this fact the clamping force of the CPU cooler will be dissipated by the spacer if the CPU package deforms more than the height difference between die and spacer. In this case the force is dissipated to the outer faces of the socket. It can handle higher forces as well during the mounting process or transportation of the system.