Intel Skylake CPUs Are Warping Under Heat Sink Mounting Pressure [Updated]

It's been discovered that some third-party heat sinks can physically damage Intel's new Skylake CPUs, along with the pins in the accompanying motherboard socket. The problem has prompted at least one cooler maker to change the design of its Socket 1151 heat sinks and it wouldn't be surprising if others soon followed suit.

The apparent issue is the substrate Intel used for its Skylake chips. A close-up shot of a Skylake CPU sitting side-by-side with a Broadwell processor shows that the substrate is noticeably thinner on Skylake, and thus prone to bending from the force that some third-party heat sinks exert. It also poses a problem for the tiny pins in the socket area of Skylake motherboards.

Skylake and Broadwell Substrates
Source: PC Games Hardware

Several heat sink makers commented to German-language website PC Games Hardware on the issue, most of which issued statements saying their coolers are within spec. At a same time, some of them recommend removing the large and heavy heat sinks in Skylake systems prior to shipping or transporting them.

So far it appears that only Scythe has come out and explicitly stated that its coolers can cause damage to Skylake CPUs. In a note to its customers, the Japanese cooler maker said the problem affects just a handful of heat sinks that use its H.P.M.S. mounting system, those being the Mugen 4, Mugen 4 PCGH-Edition, and Mugen Max. The company is offering to send customers a free set of replacement screws that will reduce the amount of pressure the affected coolers apply to CPUs.

Socket 1151 Bent Pins
Source: PC Games Hardware

It should be noted that the maximum mounting pressure Intel recommends (50 pounds) is unchanged in Skylake compared to previous generation CPUs. Whether or not cooler makers have been ignoring the specification up to this point remains to be seen.

We've reached out to Intel for comment and will update this article when we hear back.

Update - 3:08PM:  This just in from Intel...

“The design specifications and guidelines for the 6th Gen Intel Core processor using the LGA 1151 socket are unchanged from previous generations and are available for partners and 3rd party manufacturers. Intel can’t comment on 3rd party designs or their adherence to the recommended design specifications. For questions about a specific cooling product we must defer to the manufacturer.” 

And so it would appear this is an OEM 3rd party manufacturer issue, rather than a generalized issue with the processor(s).

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