Perhaps you’ve seen videos or read stories on forums of PC enthusiasts “delidding” their processors so they will run at cooler temperatures.
The process involves removing the CPU’s integrated heat spreader (IHS) or “lid,” cleaning up the factory thermal paste, applying your own compound, and then reattaching the IHS.
Whether used for overclocking purposes or just for processor health and longevity, some users swear by delidding, claiming temperature drops as much as 20° Celsius.
With the risks and difficulty associated with the procedure, is delidding really worth it?
Is Delidding Worth It? 10 Reasons It Is
If you have a high-end processor and are willing to take on some risk, delidding is a worthwhile endeavor.
Here are ten reasons it is.
1. Your CPU Will Run Cooler
As mentioned above, properly delidded processors will run much cooler than stock CPUs.
Why is this so?
The thermal compound installed between the CPU and the IHS on most factory processors is cheap and barely adequate—just enough to get by.
By removing the lid, cleaning up the factory paste, and replacing it with a high-quality liquid metal compound, your system will be more efficient at dissipating the heat from your CPU properly.
How much of a difference does this make?
One service provider claims a proper delid will reduce peak core temperatures by 15° to 25°C.
Results vary greatly because some processors run hotter than others out of the box, but a 5- to 15-degree drop is a pretty realistic range.
2. Delidding Can Facilitate Overclocking
Some of the biggest proponents of delidding are overclockers.
When increasing the clock on your CPU, every little thermal advantage matters.
Even a shift of a few degrees cooler could mean the difference between a stable CPU and one that overheats.
For those who love to push their processors to the extreme, delidding is another trick up the overclocker’s sleeve.
Many PC enthusiasts turn to options like liquid cooling to quickly dissipate heat and remove it from the system, among other strategies.
Nevertheless, establishing an effective thermal exchange between the CPU and the IHS is critical for heat dissipation because the processor die is the primary source of the heat.
You can have the best CPU cooler in the world, but if the IHS connection isn’t in order, your processor will run hotter than it should.
3. Delidding Can Extend Your Processor’s Life
For those CPUs that tend to run hot, delidding can keep your processor running longer.
In general, modern processors are pretty stable, and thanks to Moore’s Law, which assumes processing power doubles about every two years, you’re more likely to upgrade long before the CPU fails.
That said, running at a cooler temperature is always a good thing for a CPU, and some processors tend to run hotter than others thanks to inefficient design or more densely packed silicon created with a smaller process (7 nm is denser than 10 nm, e.g.).
Assuming you’re not pushing the CPU to the limit or experimenting with wild voltages or clock speeds, your processor should actually last longer after a successful delid because it will remain at lower overall temperatures.
Running a CPU much above 80°C for an extended period can have a significant negative impact on the life of the processor.
Delidding can help prevent overheating from occurring.
4. The Process Is Fun And Challenging
Perhaps one of the best reasons to delid your processor is simply the challenge that comes with the task.
Even with improved tools (see reason six below) removing the integrated heat spreader, removing adhesive and thermal compound, applying the new compound, and securing the IHS back into place can be a daunting and delicate task, especially when you are dealing with a high-dollar processor.
One wrong move and you might as well have a potato chip rather than a computer chip.
The former would be worth more.
However, for system builders, PC enthusiasts, and overclockers, delidding can be a fun task—precisely because it’s a challenge.
If you’re here looking for information on delidding, you’re someone who likes to tinker, one who likes to investigate how your PCs work together, and one who would enjoy working on CPU—if only so you can say you tried it once.
5. You Can Brag To Your Friends
If you successfully delid your processor and even have the cooling benchmarks to back you up, go ahead and brag a bit.
You’ve earned the privilege.
Just as with any challenging task you complete, delidding gives you instant street cred in many different circles.
However, even if you never see any accolades or acknowledgment of your processor-whispering greatness, you can rest secure in the knowledge that you stared down complex, expensive computer hardware and made it bend to your will.
You know how amazing you are.
Go ahead and log onto that forum and share your results.
Shout it out to your co-workers and confidants.
We won’t judge.
You’ve earned your kudos.
6. Delidding Has Never Been Easier Thanks To These Tools
Not that long ago, delidding was a painstaking and potentially dangerous undertaking for PC enthusiasts.
Those days were kind of like the wild west of delidding.
There was no rule book, little guidance, and a lack of tools.
Undeterred, system tweakers resorted to any means at their disposal such as razor blades, pliers, and clamps—often to disastrous effect.
Such an approach made it more likely that one would damage the CPU in the process.
Too much force or a slip of the razor could permanently damage your precious central processing unit.
Aside from that, it was more likely that the delidders themselves would be injured.
Again, a slip of a blade could slice up one’s hand just as easily as it could the circuit board
We won’t even think about the potential damage your blood could cause to the delicate electronics.
Without adequate tools, delidding could take much longer and required quite a bit more patience, ingenuity, and old-fashioned practice to get the procedure right.
If you’re dealing with high-end processors, any mistake can be costly.
That was then, this is now.
Today, delidding tools are available from a variety of companies and make the delidding process easier than it ever has been before.
Don’t get me wrong.
You’ll still need patience and skill in your approach, but not as much as before.
Tools from companies like Der8auer take away much of the guesswork and offer precision you won’t get with a razor blade and clamps.
Most delidding tools operate similarly to one another.
You drop your processor into the tool’s metal frame and turn a bolt, which slowly and precisely applies even-handed force to the IHS.
As you keep turning the bolt, the pressure increases until the lid separates from the CPU and pops off, revealing the naked processor die underneath.
After removing the adhesive from the edges of the chip and cleaning the processor, you apply liquid metal compound to the die.
Be sure to read the compound’s instructions to ensure you’re applying the correct amount.
Too much will spill over.
Not enough will leave your processor unstable or overheating.
Once the compound and new adhesive are in place, you can resecure the lid tightly using a vice designed specifically for the processor.
Before buying any tools, make sure your processor is compatible.
The spec sheet should list which sockets and CPU models the tool supports.
Using the wrong IHS removal tool could cause permanent damage to your processor.
As good as these tools are, it is fortunate that they are inexpensive.
As of this writing, delid toolkits range from $40 to $60.
That’s not too bad for someone wanting to try delidding.
Most kits are similar but vary in quality, so look for positive reviews and tools built with solid materials.
If the kit doesn’t come with a thermal compound, you’ll have to buy some, but tubes of liquid metal are also inexpensive at about $10.
7. You Can Use A Smaller PC Case
With increased cooling efficiency you’ll be able to cram that delidded CPU into a smaller PC case than you might have been able to use otherwise.
Smaller cases can have less-than-ideal cooling functionality.
The minimalist design reduces space available for fans and heatsinks, so by delidding the CPU, you can get the processor running cooler without sacrificing that mini ITX form factor you want.
Whether you’re building a media PC for your entertainment center, or just need a smaller footprint, delidding can help ensure your processor runs as cool as possible despite potential form factor limitations.
8. You Can Run Your PC In Hotter Environments
Similar to above, delidding can assist if you must run your PC in hotter environments.
Maybe you have a shop computer with poor or no air conditioning, so you need every advantage possible.
Reducing overall CPU temps by delidding can make a difference.
You’ll still need top-notch external cooling elements like paste, heat sink, and fans (if you’re not liquid cooling), but delidding is one element to consider.
9. Your PC Will Run Quieter
Unless your computer is already fanless, a delidded processor will run at cooler temperatures, which means your CPU fan and system fans can run at lower RPMs.
You’ve heard CPU fans kick into overdrive when your processor heats up.
Top-end speed for CPU fans can reach 5,000 RPM or higher, which might do a good job of cooling off your processor, but the tradeoff is an increase in noise.
Heatsink fans running at top speed can exceed 45 decibels, a measure, which approaches the noise level of rainfall or a standard dishwasher.
If your CPU runs cooler, its fan, which is constantly running, can maintain a lower RPM to give you a nice quiet computing experience.
10. Third-Party Services Can Delid Your CPU For You
Don’t have the time to delid your own processor?
Are you skittish that you might destroy your CPU if you do attempt the procedure?
Did you know there are companies that will delid for you?
Yes, this will rob you of your sense of accomplishment and bragging rights, but if you don’t care about those things and just want a delidded processor, these done-for-you services have your back.
You pay a fee, ship the processor, and they delid, apply the proper liquid metal compound, seal the CPU back up, and send it back to you.
For you overclockers out there, many of these companies also offer binning services, which will give you a detailed report on max voltage, clock speed, and temperatures at which your newly delidded processor can run.
Silicon Lottery was a popular delidding service until it closed up shop in late 2021 because of the reduction in overclocking capabilities on newer processors (among other factors).
Plenty of other services exist, but The Tech Wire has not vetted any of these, so we won’t provide recommendations here.
Do your homework and ask around on forums if you want to pursue this option.
Here are some other common questions you might have about delidding:
A. Will Delidding Void My Warranty?
If you pop off the IHS, both Intel and AMD consider your warranty void.
Therefore, if your processor craters after a delid, you’re out of luck.
Don’t delid your CPU if this is a problem for you.
There is a non-zero chance your processor will be irreparably damaged during a delidding procedure, even if you do everything right.
Even if you use a third-party delidding service, your processor’s warranty will still be void.
Some of these companies may offer a limited warranty on their handiwork, so be sure to inquire before shipping off your precious CPU.
B. Does Delidding Have Other Risks?
Personal injury is one possible risk.
Using non-specialized tools like razor blades can lead to cuts or other injuries.
Even if you do use all the proper tools, there’s always the potential for injury.
For example, processors with thermal soldering might need to be heated up to loosen the solder before removing the IHS.
In these cases, you’re at risk of burns or other injuries.
Second, as implied above, you could destroy your processor beyond repair.
If the processor does have thermal solders and those solders aren’t loosened enough, the process of removing the IHS can rip apart the CPU.
Using blades can lead to scars on the processor’s PCB, which is not a desirable situation.
You get the idea.
C. What’s The Point Of Delidding?
CPU manufacturers often skimp or use inferior thermal compound between the actual processor and the integrated heat spreader.
With advanced compounds like liquid metal, PC enthusiasts can create a more efficient heat dissipation process resulting in lower CPU temperatures—sometimes dramatic drops in temperatures.
In itself, a cooler processor is a good thing, but the primary purpose of many delidders is to facilitate even higher overclock rates for their CPU.
With more efficient cooling, overclockers can potentially squeeze a bit more performance from their processors.
Aside from the obvious benefits, opening up the processor carries with it a certain mystique since the CPU is generally considered off-limits.
Those who succeed in delidding walk a little taller, carrying with them the pride of accomplishment.
D. Do You Have To Use Liquid Metal?
A regular thermal compound will fail pretty quickly after delidding, so it’s imperative you use a good liquid metal compound between the CPU die and the IHS.
Popular brands include Thermal Grizzly and Coollaboratory.
Delidding: Worth It If You Know The Risks
Though often challenging and risky, delidding can also be a fun and rewarding experience.
In our opinion, as long as you’re comfortable accepting these inherent risks, delidding is worth the effort.
Unless you just want to practice, delidding doesn’t make much sense on low-end or even mid-performing CPUs.
Why go to all the risk and effort on a CPU that’s not top-notch?
In our opinion, this is kind of like installing a high-end stereo system in an automobile that’s a piece of junk.
You’re better off using the money to upgrade your car to something that will last a few years longer.
With specialized tools and services at your disposal, delidding is easier than it was in the past—even considering those processors with pesky thermal solder—and the resultant temperature drop can give your CPU life and performance you didn’t know was possible.
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