AMD’s Ryzen 7000 processors have been criticized for their integrated heatsink (IHS) design and how it doesn’t help thermals – but there’s a way around this apparently, one that will ensure the chips run a little cooler. However, this is definitely it’s not something we recommend the average user should try (not that they’re equipped anyway).
Because? Well, because it involves taking a shiny new Zen 4 processor and exposing it to a grinding tool. Yes, the solution to thick IHS for this Ryzen generation – we’ll discuss why it’s beefier later – is simply to make it thinner by grinding it down.
This is obviously not something the average PC owner wants to do, but the more hardcore types might consider exploring this path – and some have already done it in the case of JayzTwoCents with the use of overclocker expert Der8auer’s grinding tool – as seen in Twitter by Andreas Schilling (through Tom’s Hardware (opens in new tab)).
With a little help from @der8auer and his Ryzen 7000 grinding tool, @JayzTwoCents just showed that you can reduce the temperatures of a Ryzen 9 7950X by as much as 10°C by sanding the heatsink by 0.8mm. Roman talks cautiously about up to 6°C. pic.twitter.com/TElwxis6Q0October 20, 2022
The result of reducing the IHS of a Ryzen 9 7950X CPU by 0.8mm proved to be a reduction in temperatures from 94-95C, all the way down to 85-88C, a pretty substantial drop (those were the temperatures running at 5.1 GHz in all the cores for the CPU).
Analysis: The Lesser of Two Evils? well not exactly
Essentially this is an alternative to another risky procedure known as ‘delidding’, where the CPU has the IHS actually removed, which can result in even greater temperature drops. (Der8auer demonstrated a huge 20°C reduction when delivering a 7900X earlier, although this was using a special liquid metal thermal grease which is the overclocker’s own custom mix.)
Shredding the IHS represents a slightly less risky path – and less complicated too, as there’s a lot of extra work to fit a cooling solution into a delidded (very different size) chip – but in either case, you’re voiding your warranty. . And unless you really know what you’re doing, you run the risk of ruining the CPU, as you can imagine when it comes to drastic actions like pulling it apart or shredding chunks. That’s why we don’t really recommend this to anyone but seasoned enthusiasts (who can afford the cost if things go wrong).
The whole backdrop for this is that AMD used a thicker design for the IHS with Zen 4 chips on the AM5 platform (with a new processor socket). This is to maintain compatibility with the new Ryzen 7000 processors in terms of existing coolers (AM4 platform) – so people don’t have to buy a new cooling solution – as the new socket is flatter, which means the chip is slightly lower (so the thicker IHS makes up for this difference). But this thickness of 1mm more than normal is somewhat counterproductive for good thermals.
Now, AMD considers it good that the Ryzen 9 7950X works at temperatures like 95C, but some enthusiasts disagree, hence the controversy. And therefore slashing 0.8mm to bring the IHS back to its pre-Ryzen 7000 size, with the processor running more like 85C, a level owners are happier about.
As an aside, don’t forget that the IHS is there to provide protection for the CPU, and with delidding this poses an extra risk in terms of leaving the die exposed – while shredding still leaves a protective cap on the chip, as we are.
If you’re concerned about your Zen 4’s temperatures – which can, of course, vary from case to case – rather than going this route, it’s a much better and more viable idea to look into workarounds such as using the Eco mode settings. (in AMD’s Ryzen Master software) to contain that heat. (Or undervolting is another option, perhaps).