Forget The Washer Mod, Check Out This 3D Printed LGA 1700 Bracket For Alder Lake

hero luumi 3dprinted bracket
Alright, so—remember how Intel's LGA 1700 sockets seem to be bending CPU heatspreaders, causing reduced cooling performance? We told you about it back when we talked about how AMD's socket AM5 seems specifically designed to avoid this particular problem by screwing the CPU retention bracket directly through the board to the heatsink mounting plate.

If you do remember you can skip to the next paragraph, but if you don't, it's recap time. The long and the short of it is that while some Alder Lake CPUs come out of the box with slightly concave CPU heatspreaders, the issue is made worse by the design of the "ILM", or "Independent Loading Module". That's the metal bracket that holds your CPU down into the LGA socket. Because Alder Lake chips aren't square, the ILM's pressure causes the ends of the IHS to be a few tenths of a millimeter higher than the center, creating an air gap that worsens cooling.

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Stock ILM left, washer mod on the right; note distribution of thermal paste. Images: Karta's OC Garage

The solution to this problem, found by Igor's Lab in collaboration with Buildzoid (of YouTube channel Actually Hardcore Overclocking), was to simply place 1mm washers underneath the four corners of the ILM. This raises the ILM relative to the CPU socket, reducing the pressure it is able to place on the IHS. Doing this immediately earned a small-but-significant improvement in CPU core temperatures. Problem solved, right?

Sure, but it's kind of a clumsy hack. Moreover, if you use metal washers, it's entirely possible you could short something on your motherboard and blow it up. If you want something much safer (if not a bit classier, though also more expensive), how about 3D-printing your own ILM that you screw into place? That's what Australian self-described "extreme overclocker" Karta did, and you can see the results at the top of this page.

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Click if the text is too small. Image: Karta's OC Garage

Testing his 3D printed bracket against the stock Intel ILM as well as against the washer mod, Karta found that his solution produced slightly better results in Prime95 versus the other two options. The difference compared to the washer mod is very small, but measurable and consistent, meaning it's real. Meanwhile, both solutions are significantly superior to the stock ILM.

Karta also sent the 3D printer files for his bracket to fellow overclocker Luumi in Finland to test. Luumi got a friend to print it out, and found that the bracket works well, although his actual gains were extremely small. He suspects this is due to the uneven surface of his waterblock, and promises to post another video soon once he's had time to lap that down. The image at the top of the page here is from his video, which you can see below.

Luumi isn't sure whether Karta intends to share the 3D printer files with the community at large, so he wasn't willing to do so. It seems unlikely given that Karta says, on his Facebook page, that he has a "small aluminum production run" of the brackets on the way, and that he's taking pre-orders for them.

Luumi did say that while this bracket (or washer mod) offers a convenient way to slightly improve processor temperatures, folks who are serious about overclocking should stick to standard methods, like delidding the CPU entirely. Well, fair enough.