Intel Core i9-10900K Delidding Shows Comet Lake-S Up Close And Benefits Of Direct Die Cooling

Intel Core i9-10900K Delidded
Intel's Core i9-10900K is a beastly processor that flexes 10 physical CPU cores and 20 threads clocked at 3.7GHz to 5.3GHz, along with 20MB of Smart Cache, all wrapped in a package with a 125W TDP. Our review of the Core i9-10900K covered usage temps and overclocking performance when paired with an ASUS Maximus XII Hero WiFi motherboard and Corsair H80i v2 all-in-one liquid cooler. That's not exactly a pedestrian setup. Nevertheless, there is always a push in the enthusiast community to take things further, and one way to do that is by delidding.

Delidding is the process of ripping off the integrated heatspreader (IHS), which is the large hunk of metal that sets on top of the CPU. It's there to both offer protection and, as the name applies, to spread heat over a larger area to be transferred to a cooler, be it an air cooler, all-in-one liquid cooler, or a custom liquid cooler (those being the main options).

Removing the IHS is not for the faint of heart, or wallet. That said, professional overclocker Der8auer routinely does this sort of thing, and even designs custom tools to make the process easier and about as safe as it can be (though still not safe overall).

Wasting no time with Intel's Comet Lake-S series, Der8auer decided to delid the flagship Core i9-10900K to see what affect it would have on temps, as well as what the size difference is, compared to previous generation processors. Have a watch...

The height and weight are not identical from one generation to the next, which can this process even trickier than it already is (coolers are not designed to be used on CPUs with the IHS removed). Here's how things break down...
  • Core i9-10900K: 1.12mm die height, 9.2mm x 22.4mm die size, 5.35 CPU weight
  • Core i9-9900K: 1.15mm die height, 9.2mm x 19.6mm die size, 5.40g CPU weight
  • Core i7-8700K: 0.87mm die height, 9.2mm x 16.7mm die size, 4.34g CPU weight
Once the IHS was removed, Der8auer applied a coat of liquid metal, then slapped it back into the motherboard re-ran some tests and took some measurements.

Intel Core i9-10900K Delidded Temps

Before delidding, Der8auer saw temps in the mid-to-low 80C range. The core with the lowest temp checked in at 79C, the core with the hottest temp was at 87C.

After delidding, he saw temp reductions of between 4-9C overall, depending on the core. The core with the lowest temp in this situation was 74C and the core with the hottest temp was 78C.

Those are decent results and the process is interesting to see for sure. However, it's not real practical. Overclocking is not likely to be much better after delidding, and certainly not in line with the effort and risks involved. That said, kudos to Der8auer for doing this.