Delidding is a process with the aim being to reduce CPU core temperatures on processors with a less-than-ideal thermal interface between the silicon and headspreader. The benefits of delidding a design with such an interface lead to having a cooler system, or the ability perform extra overclocking with a larger delta for thermal headroom. However, delidding a processor does carry risk, such as potentially damaging the CPU when done incorrectly and certainly voiding the warranty. In this article, we have produced a How-To guide for delidding one of the latest desktop processors: AMD’s Ryzen 5 2400G APU.
What is Delidding?
Most modern processors are manufactured with the integrated heat spreader (IHS) on top of the package, and attached to the package with a layer of glue. Between the CPU and the headspreader is a thermal interface material (TIM). The TIM is designed to transfer the heat away from the processor into the headspreader and eventually into a CPU cooler. The quality of the TIM used on modern processors can vary greatly, from a layer of cheap thermal paste to direct indium-tin soldering between the silicon die and the IHS.
Visual representation of a regular CPU versus a delidded CPU (Thanks to EKWB)
When a manufacturer decides how to package their processors, the type of TIM used is an important part of that decision. Not only does it have to be sufficient to be suitable to last 10+ years, it also has to make sure that the processor works within specifications for that time, after plenty of heat cycles. The method also has to scale – some processor families are manufactured on the scale of tens of millions, so the process has to be quick. It also has to cost appropriately per unit. Saving a single cent per unit over ten million units is a $100k saving.
A lot of discussion on the internet on this topic revolves around why the cheaper implementations do not spend $0.10 more for a better solution, especially on a $1999 product (or why a flagship product has a cheap implementation). Ultimately a fine balance has to be made – a standard TIM ‘goop/paste’ has sufficient longevity but lower performance, while a direct soldering has the best performance but might not withstand mulitple years of cycling.