Intel 14th Gen Core i9-14900K CPU Delidding Reveals A Cool Surprise
In case you're unfamiliar, "delidding" is the process of removing the thick metal plate attached to the top of modern CPUs. This plate is known as the "integrated heat spreader" or "IHS," and it protects the fragile silicon die of the processor from cracking when fumble-fingered users are installing their cooling apparatus. Having an IHS is normally a good thing, but ultimately it does interfere with cooling performance.
This is because the silicon die that is generating heat is separate from the heat spreader, materially. Transferring large amounts of heat from one material to another is always a challenge, even with quality thermal material like the indium solder that most modern processors use. The fewer stages you have to go through when getting heat to your final cooling medium (usually air, even with water cooling), the better.
Your author has delidded a few dozen Intel processors over the years, but he's surely far behind champion overclocker Der8auer in that regard. The German meister of Thermal Grizzly has popped the top of numerous processors on his YouTube channel, and the latest is a Core i9-14900K. Unsurprisingly, what he found underneath is exactly the same as a 13th-generation processor.
The surprising part is that he was able to drop the CPU's core temperatures by as much as 13ºC after delidding, even without running the processor "bare die," or missing its IHS. The overclocker himself was impressed at the gains, because with the extremely similar 12th-gen and identical 13th-gen processors, some lapping of the IHS was required to minimize the gap between the IHS and the CPU die. He didn't do any of that—he simply popped the top, cleaned off the glue, replaced Intel's solder with liquid metal thermal interface material (TIM), and put the IHS back on.
That process got him a 10º drop; the extra 2º and change came from installing a CPU contact frame that more-evenly distributes the pressure from the loading mechanism across the CPU. This prevents the IHS from bending even microscopically, and improves thermal transfer a bit. We've reported on these frames before, as it was found that 12th-gen CPUs could bend rather significantly over time.