Technology Explained

Two Ways to Cool Down Your Defective Overheating Intel CPU

Kannon Yamada 16-08-2013

Looking to purchase a Haswell or Ivy Bridge What You Need To Know About Intel’s Ivy Bridge [MakeUseOf Explains] Intel has just released its new updated processor, code-named Ivy Bridge, for both desktops and laptops. You’ll find these new products listed as the 3000 series and you can buy at least some of them... Read More Intel CPU? A secret may change your mind. According to bloggers, Intel recently got caught using thermal paste on its CPUs and lying about it – the revelation suggests that Intel CPUs may not last longer than three to five years before succumbing to overheating. While the Intel brand traditionally evokes notions of quality and performance, its recent batch of CPUs could lack in the quality department. But how did this happen and can it be fixed?


How Intel Got Caught Red-Handed

PC enthusiasts noticed that unlocked Ivy Bridge CPUs ran hotter than expected – a strange situation, as unlocked CPUs exist for the explicit purpose of overclocking. Controversy arose when a Japanese tech site, PC Watch, exposed the bare die of an Ivy Bridge CPU – with shocking results.


PC Watch found thermal interface material – paste – instead of the fluxless solder Intel’s public relations department claimed. The difference between the two materials is pronounced. Fluxless solder doesn’t decay or dry out over time, whereas thermal compound, or TIM, loses its efficacy slowly. TIM can become desiccated in as little as two years, depending on the quality. This suggests that all Intel CPUs will experience a subtle creeping up of temperatures and, eventually, death.


Unfortunately, building defects into products Thou Shalt Consume: The Story of Consumer Electronics [Feature] Every year, exhibitions around the world present new high tech devices; expensive toys that come with many promises. They aim to make our lives easier, more fun, super connected, and of course they are status... Read More remains a standard practice in modern industrial societies. After all, the best mousetrap doesn’t make a man rich – it’s the mousetrap that you need to buy 50 times that makes a profit. And CPUs with shorter life expediencies destroy second-hand markets.


Ideally, competition deters companies from building defective products. But with AMD’s inability to penetrate into Intel’s market-share, it appears that the practice will continue well past Ivy Bridge. The latest reports show that Intel’s latest chip, Haswell, also includes TIM instead of fluxless solder.

A Victim of Its Own Success

Intel bet big on per-core performance. AMD instead focused on multiple cores – this proved disastrous, and AMD fell dramatically behind in sales and marketshare 5 Reasons Why Intel Is Being Pushed Against The Wall By AMD Over the years, Intel and AMD have been in quite a battle to bring out the best processors. Eventually a point came where you didn't hear all too much about what AMD was up to,... Read More . By 2012, when Ivy Bridge released, Intel controlled great swathes of both the desktop and laptop markets. The money rolled in. It made over 30% profit per CPU, unlike AMD which muddled on with a miserable 5%. At its zenith, Intel could do as it pleased – with its position secure, Intel chose to use cheaper TIM on its CPUs.

The Controversy

Two differing theories explain why delidding dramatically reduces CPU temperatures: The first theory argues that Intel used an inferior grade thermal paste, either to save on costs or to reduce the longevity of their products. However, Intel claims to use a high quality thermal paste on its heat sinks and other products. Dow-Corning’s DC-1996 is rumored to be used by Intel.

The second theory claims that the distance between the die and the heat spreader can cause higher than normal temperatures in Ivy Bridge and Haswell. According to this theory, delidding removes 0.09 mm of glue between the IHS and the CPU’s circuit board; removing the glue shortens the distance that heat travels, resulting in lower temperatures. However, this calls into question why Intel didn’t design a shorter distance in the first place. If it was a design flaw, why wasn’t this corrected in Haswell? The evidence suggests that the design is indeed intentional.


Complicating matters is the corporation’s duplicity: Intel’s first officially claimed usage of fluxless solder. They later changed this statement, instead claiming that the die-shrink process caused an increase in heat production. How delidding solves this remains a mystery.

Can Intel’s Overheating Issue Be Fixed?

In a word: “Yes”. However, it will require that you void the warranty by physically removing the integrated heat-spreader. Furthermore, it’s incredibly risky. About a quarter of attempts destroy the CPU.

For those undeterred by reason, continue reading.

How To Delid Your Intel CPU

Keep in mind that I didn’t delid any of my CPUs.


The recorded success rate over at hovers around 75%. A quarter of those who removed their integrated heat-spreader (IHS) also destroyed their CPU. Those who successfully delidded reduced temperatures at load by around 18% without overclocking and around 20-30% with an overclock.

intel cpu lidded

Two delidding methods have emerged: First, the razor blade method and, second, the wood block-hammer method. Again, both of these methods will void your manufacturer’s warranty.

I strongly suggest watching the available videos before trying to delid.

  • Delidding Method #1: The IHS is glued onto the top of the CPU PCB using a very strong adhesive. The razor blade method requires that you use an extremely sharp razor to pry beneath the IHS and the printed circuit board (PCB) of the CPU. Keep in mind that scratching the PCB or nicking the die will likely destroy your CPU.
  • Delidding Method #2: Woodblock-Hammer method requires that you have a vise, a block of wood and a hammer of some kind. You can improvise another tool for hammering the CPU away from the IHS. Essentially, the CPU is clamped into a vise by the spreader and the circuit board is then rammed out of place using a block of wood. It’s quite shocking:

Out of the two methods, the hammer-and-wood appears to be faster and safer. Although in my opinion, pounding on your CPU with a block of wood is insanity.


Delidding Intel Ivy Bridge and Haswell CPUs is easy to attempt, although extraordinarily dangerous to finish. First, you will void your warranty. Second, there’s a very real chance that you will destroy your CPU in the process. Roughly 25% of all delids result in the destruction of the CPU.

However, for the successful, temperatures tend to drop dramatically, using the right thermal compound. For overclockers, delidding with a high quality thermal compound will make a huge difference in the available frequencies.

Anyone experiencing high Intel CPU temperatures? Please share in the comments.

Related topics: Computer Maintenance, CPU, Overheating.

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  1. Anonymous
    October 18, 2015 at 10:30 pm

    Running contrary to the general theme of this piece, I have a 10-yr old Compaq Presario, currently using an Athlon 64 X2 3800+ dual-core by AMD. This old girl normally runs round the 28-30C mark, and very rarely gets over 35C. Regular spring-cleaning, and replacing the TIM every 18 months or so certainly seems to help.

    I've noticed this again & again; Intels almost always seem to run hotter than AMDs. Many would argue this is due to the fact that they don't offer the performance of the Intel processors, but hey! I got this AMD as an upgrade for the Socket-939 board about 6 months ago.....from eBay, for the grand total of £7.20p, to replace a single-core Athlon 64 (which also ran remarkably cool). I don't game, or edit videos, or any processor-intensive stuff like that; only surf the web (mostly tech sites like MakeUseOf), stream radio, and my big thing is graphic design. I'm on Puppy Linux, and use the GIMP a lot.....along with a couple of Windows apps I run under WINE.

    I still say with AMD you DO get 'a lot of bang for your buck'. This thing flies; with SATA II SSD storage, it's remarkably close to many modern machines, performance-wise.

    I'm happy with the old girl; I intend building my first 'rig' sometime during the next 18 months, and I shall stick with AMD....probably an A8-series.

    Apologies for derailing the topic!

    • Kannon Yamada
      October 20, 2015 at 11:59 am

      That's not much of a derail, it's pretty much exactly on point. Thanks for sharing!

      The generation you're talking about from AMD was remarkable and superior to Intel's designs. But when Intel moved from its Pentium days (which includes the Core architecture) into the Nehalem architecture, it started leaving its competitors behind. As it began introducing die-shrinks ahead of competitors, AMD was selling off its foundry. Things have degenerated a great deal since then. For competition's sake, we're hoping that AMD's 2016 Zen architecture brings them back into the fold. But it's looking grim.

      Right now AMD's only serious advantage over Intel is in its integrated graphics (APU) performance in the sub $400 range (and also its price-to-performance ratio in math intensive operation). The advantage is tremendous though, particularly when combined with dual graphics. My media center pairs an A10 with a discrete GPU. I'm not much of a gamer, but on a budget AMD still offers the best platform.

      More or less, the heat production of a system relates to its wattage. AMD systems have a higher TDP than Intel. The difference is substantially higher.

  2. danny
    January 10, 2015 at 10:22 am

    i got an intel core 2 extreme Q6850 quad core. and I got an overheating problem 3 days ago. I did some research and this is the kind of news I get from intel? what he hell intel. I paid like 900 for this cpu nine years ago. I feel like to going to do the deliding method right here and now myself. maybe I never by intel product again. and wont have this problem.

    • Kannon Y
      January 10, 2015 at 6:21 pm

      Danny, the Q6850 almost certainly uses fluxless solder, not thermal paste. If you attempt to delid, it will destroy the CPU. If your system is overheating, it may be due to the heatsink not making contact with the heat spreader of the CPU or it could be possible that the thermal compound between the CPU and the heatsink/fan requires replacement. Nine years is a long time.

  3. Peter
    December 22, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    I kill my Q8200

  4. Bongo
    December 15, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    CPUs do not follow More's law anymore. The CPUs in 2025 will only be like 50% 'better', and probably 1000% hotter.

    I remember having a 286 @ 100 MHz, a 386 @ 500 MHz, and now a Pentium 4 @ 2.5 Ghz. I built this computer 11 years ago and it still works just fine for Internet, Excel, Word, YouTube. Email, and even most Flash games. The ONLY reason I'm looking to make a new computer is because half my ports are dead from capacitor fatigue and Windows XP will be abandoned in April. (This time I'm going with all solid cap mobo and Windows 7. In 2020 when Win7 is abandoned I will chuck Windows for Linux with OpenOffice.)

    I EXPECT that the computer I build TODAY will last even LONGER than my this computer. I guess Intel is noticing all the (non gamer) people who feel no need to buy a new computer for another 15 years and is scared poopless that their business model is falling apart. Even if one likes gaming, many people will decide to go with a game console for $400 instead of building a new computer for $1500.

    BTW My ancient P4 Idles at 32, and will only hit 54 under full load in a 90+ (F) room, with only a stock cooler and Arctic Alumina. (In case you forgot what a CPU that doesn't heat your whole house, and lasts 11 years, is like.) :P

  5. Eric
    September 9, 2013 at 12:26 am

    I wonder what other processor manufacturers do this kind of thing. Do the arm processors come this way? I wish the arm devices were able to handle user ram upgrades / installs!

    • Kannon Y
      September 9, 2013 at 7:19 am

      Good question!

      At one point, they did, but because of the problems associated with paste, the industry switched over to fluxless solder. That's why it's hard understanding why Intel switched back to paste when it's common knowledge that fluxless is infinitely better.

      ARM chips aren't even remotely reusable, although the few ARM devices I've owned have held up really well over time - despite not even using an active cooling system. It appears that ARM chips don't produce enough heat to warrant using paste. Typically they just dump heat into the metal frame of the phone.

  6. Gonçalo Almeida
    August 24, 2013 at 11:26 pm

    I have a HP Pavillion dv6 6060-ep and lately it closes games from heating to temperatures over 90ºc up to 94ºc. (cpu)
    2 GHz Intel Core i7-2630QM (turbo boost 2.9) (sandy bridge)
    AMD Radeon HD 6770M (1 GB DDR5) (always around 60ºc)
    6 GB DDR3
    Any suggestions? i'm kinda off in despair.
    (I have already opened it once since the warranty is already over but there wasn't much dust inside .
    Right know i was playing left 4 dead 2 and the game closed and i had a warning from core temp saying one core was critical (94º), and i am writing this and the temp is around 60º. any advice?

    • Kannon Yamada
      August 24, 2013 at 11:52 pm

      Tough question. Sorry about your laptop overheating.

      Laptops oftentimes have heat problems even without factoring in the issues with Ivy Bridge or Haswell. Even so, I would first consider methods of externally cooling your laptop down as most laptops use direct die to heatsink contact. Oftentimes the best way to cool a laptop is the cheapest.


      One things for certain, continuing to play games until your computer shuts down due to overheat will cause permanent damage. I would stop gaming until the cooling issue can be solved.

      Another thing - sometimes replacing the thermal paste between the CPU and the cooler can improve cooling on laptops - but it's super dangerous to do. Another point to remember is that laptops SOMETIMES use what's called a thermal pad. A thermal pad allows for easy die to heatsink (cooler) contact. That's because the die of a CPU is like glass. If it's scratched or cracked, it will likely break.

  7. Bud
    August 19, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    Purchased an iMac 3-years ago, with an Intel Processor Name:Intel Core 2 Duo
    Processor Speed: 2.66 GHz......noticed a rotating "rainbow ball" on my screen and wondered what it was.......after a brief period of time, I placed my hand on the poorly designed fan intake and exhaust vents and discovered my iMac was running HOT!!! I then placed an adjustable "Breeze Machine desktop fan by Lasko towards the iMac.........helped a little. Recently re-arranged my desk and now have a "U-Shaped" shelf with the fan much closer to the iMac and drastically reducing the unbelievable amount of heat having been generated........improvisation is a great tool, but I'm really disgusted with Intel !!!
    Hope this info. comes back to haunt those greedy bastards !!!

    • Fegkari
      March 18, 2015 at 10:53 pm

      The poor design of your iMac was not the fault of Intel; they only supplied the processor. Your scorn should be directed at Apple for making such awful choices for cooling solutions while still boasting top quality parts and design.

    • Bud
      March 18, 2015 at 11:07 pm

      My typing error. Had Intel on my mind instead of Apple ! Thanks for your reply !

    • Kannon Y
      March 19, 2015 at 12:47 am

      The Core 2 Duo didn't suffer from the overclocking issues that Ivy Bridge and Haswell series processors do. This is almost certainly because of Apple's design.

  8. guy
    August 18, 2013 at 8:27 am

    my ivey bridge 3770k seems to be holding up fine. All cores run under 30 degrees and ive had it for id guess nearly a year. I wonder if it will suddenly fall off a cliff

    • Kannon Yamada
      August 20, 2013 at 12:25 am

      Hello Guy! In general thermal paste longevity varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some are rated for only a few years, whereas others can handle a much longer period of use.

      I'm pretty sure the design of Ivy Bridge will last at least as long as the warranty and probably years beyond that with normal operating conditions. However, on 24/7, overclocked machines, I would imagine a much shorter life period.

  9. Pooky J
    August 18, 2013 at 7:13 am

    Luckily mine is Sandy Bridge :)
    Anyway, what's the difference in lifetime if it's almost always underclocked?

    • Kannon Yamada
      August 20, 2013 at 12:08 am

      Hey Pooky! Great question!

      We don't know, unfortunately. In theory, underclocking will increase the longevity of the paste. Overclocking should definitely cause a faster decay.

  10. Susendeep D
    August 18, 2013 at 6:35 am

    Can this problem be overcome by using aftermaket air cooler or water cooler which has their own good heat paste?

    Can Artic silver 5 paste be used to stop this ?

    • Kannon Yamada
      August 20, 2013 at 12:06 am

      Thanks Susendeep! Good question!

      The paste is contained between the heat spreader and the die of the CPU. The spreader isn't removable. It's hard to explain - when you look at the CPU, it just looks like some gold pins or contact points on the bottom and a metal cap on top.

      Intel put the paste between the die (where the heat is produced) and the spreader, or the metal cap.

      Paste over time decays and dries out. Most pastes are rated from between 3 and 5 years, but the rate at which they decay varies by their operating conditions. A cooler CPU will decay its paste at a slower rate than a hotter one. So, to an unknown extent using more efficient cooling techniques will slow the rate of the paste's decay.

    • Matt
      September 19, 2013 at 5:40 am

      Don't listen to all the hype, these chips will last more than long enough till they are obsolete, they are however VERY hot. mine easily hits 100 degrees when crunching video.

      Yes a good aftermarket cooler will help, it's pretty much a necessity as the intel stock cooler is now SMALLER, yes you heard me right. even though these chips run super hot, it has a tiny cooler with it. I have a massive cooler and it hardly takes off all the heat.

      as for thermal paste. you should alwasy use a dab, but it doesent make NEARLY as much a difference as people say 1-2 degrees at the absolute most.

  11. Kristoffer
    August 18, 2013 at 12:17 am

    This is no scoop, this is old news, and I have yet to see anyone else credibly claim that Intel's aim was eventual self-destruction of CPUs.

    I'll give you a scoop: for years, Intel's competitor AMD has been running a stealth advocate program where stealth advocates advocate for AMD without ever identifying their affiliation, and receive free hardware in return.


    • Kannon Yamada
      August 18, 2013 at 5:50 am

      Kristoff, thanks for the tip! I remember hearing about this story a year or two ago, right about when the delidding scandal broke. :-)

      This actually isn't a news story, though, it's on two methods of delidding Ivy Bridge or Haswell. It's not an AMD vs Intel sort of story, either. My apologies if I've come off as pro either camp.

      I think at this point we can logically infer that Intel is shortening their product life cycle. If it were a production error they would have amended it in Haswell. Also, according to the latest rumors, Intel is adding soldered on TIM in their most expensive Haswell "enthusiast" CPUs. If true, it means they were lying again about their latest justification for using paste.

      I don't mean that as a ding against Intel's engineering. In terms of raw technological power, they're unmatched. Anyone who buys Ivy Bridge or Haswell is still buying a good product. It's just not going to last a decade.

      I think the problem is that we've come to expect CPUs that last a decade from all CPU manufacturers. It's usually the most reliable component of a computer. The new paradigm makes it a solid performer for two-three years and dying sometime after that. Just long enough to beat that warranty.

      Even so, that's still a pretty good run for a computer.

  12. Nash J
    August 17, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    I think most big computer manufacturers are taking shortcuts. I work with computers so I know. Many use cheap thermopaste. Some put air vents in places that makes no sense. And when the computers run hot then it only takes a while for batteries and hard drives to die. It is sad.

  13. Charles L
    August 16, 2013 at 9:46 pm

    I have a PC with a 6/7 year old atom CPU that runs very cool and is still as capable as ever, it usually runs cooler than room temp without a fan! All the cooling and the bottleneck is due to crappy ram.

    • Adrian
      August 17, 2013 at 1:16 pm

      You know it's impossible for a CPU to run cooler than ambient temperature without some kind of heat pump, right? Also, atom chips don't use a heat spreader like the desktop CPUs do. The issue with Intels current chips is aging of the TIM, greatly increasing temperatures.

  14. Jack
    August 16, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    Hmm... I wonder, does this affect Sandy Bridge CPU's as well?

    • Min Xuan X
      August 16, 2013 at 5:36 pm

      It affected my previous laptop, the HP G42, that has a 1st-gen i5. I delidded the CPU, and of course, I destroyed it. But who cares, the warranty has already expired and it really deserves to be in the junkyard when I started playing Dota 2 on it 6 months before it died. Anyway, what I discovered is that while the TIM on my AMD GPU is still in good condition, the TIM on the CPU is completely desiccated, which explained why it became hot even on casual Facebooking.

      Now I'm using a 4-months old Dell Inspiron 15R with an Ivy Bridge i5, and extended its warranty to 3 years, just in case. If this new baby of mine dies 2 years later, I'll definitely will NOT be pleased with Intel. And I'll have to start convincing my dad to switch to AMD. He hates them because of the same overheating problem.

      • Kannon Yamada
        August 17, 2013 at 8:30 pm

        Oh no! Sorry to hear about your loss.

        The first generation of i5s used what's called "soldered on TIM". These CPUs actually can't be delidded without destroying the CPU. The reason is that the extremely delicate die, which has the fragility of glass, is bonded to the spreader. If you delid, it will chip and crack the die, making it unusable. :-(

        I believe that laptops mostly do not use heat spreaders and instead use direct die to heatsink contact to disperse heat. They often use a thermal pad to buffer this direct contact. Most laptops shouldn't suffer from this particular design fault. Although a laptop's failure rate is bound to be much, much higher than a desktop.

        AMD chips tend to run hotter because they're less power efficient than Intel CPUs. The higher wattage of AMD translates into higher temps. The exception to this rule is the Trinity line of AMD CPU, which has pretty good graphics combined with average CPU capabilities.

        Thanks for the comment!

        • Anonymous
          October 18, 2015 at 10:46 pm

          Well, I beg to differ. Besides my Compaq desktop (mentioned above), i run a dinosaur of an old Dell Inpiron; an original 1100 laptop, from 2002. I've swapped the 2.2 GHz Celeron it originally came with, for a 2.6 GHz P4. Improved the performance nicely; but these laptops used a standard desktop CPU (you have to remember that back in those days, the modern ultra-low power mobile CPUs weren't even on the drawing board, much less in actual production), so you're looking at a standard P4 with integrated heat spreader, requiring the normal routine of paste between itself & Dell's famously crappy 'thermal solutions'...

          She averages 48-50c though, with occasional giddy forays up toward the mid-50's; I'm not complaining. They also had a lot more space inside them for air to circulate anyway, due to the deeper, bulkier design; 7.5 lbs in weight, too.....most of that down to the gigantic battery pack (weighing more than a MacBook 'Air'), which was needed to supply the power required by that desktop CPU...all of 63W TDP!

    • Kannon Yamada
      August 17, 2013 at 8:24 pm

      Hey Jack, Sandy Bridge uses soldered on TIM, meaning the die of the CPU is bonded to the heat spreader. Removing the spreader will actually destroy the chip.

      The overheating issue does not effect Sandy Bridge, fortunately.

      • Jack
        August 17, 2013 at 11:26 pm

        That's great to know! Sounds like a good reason to go with Sandy Bridge instead of Ivy/Haswell.

  15. George S
    August 16, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    A big corporation lying to customers? Really? Why I can't believe it. Uh, wait, yes I can.

    My Intel processor in an ASUS desktop has run hot and we can't fix it. I'll live with it, and that fact that ASUS delivered it with defective memory -- about which they did nothing. No, I don't think they'll get my business next time. Nor will Intel.

  16. Suvrojit
    August 16, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    I use an Intel processor Core2Duo E8400. My last Gigabyte motherboard's ethernet was blown off due to a heavy lightning. After I changed my motherboard with the same model, the temperature of the CPU began to rise, after applying intel original paste, still the same, now it remains normal above 60C. While gaming it goes 90 and above and most of the time the frequency and clock speed decreases like crazily.

    • Kannon Yamada
      August 17, 2013 at 8:22 pm

      I believe Core2Duo uses soldered on TIM. I have heard rumors that some used paste, but I somewhat doubt that.

      It's possible that the lightning strike may have caused additional damage to your CPU. Also some motherboards use different methods of testing temperatures, so this issue may be related to your new motherboard.

  17. Cody
    August 16, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    Hmm. Hopefully ARM comes to desktop soon if Intel is going to start getting sneaky.

    I always felt like I paid a premium to Intel for their higher quality, but cutting corners to intentionally reduce the lifetime of my CPU is unacceptable. I like keeping these things around for a long time, even if it's no longer my main desktop!

    • Kannon Yamada
      August 17, 2013 at 8:19 pm

      There's actually several ARM desktops already available for purchase. Unfortunately, many of these are limited to Android or Linux-ARM. To my knowledge, these desktop devices, while extremely inexpensive, are also limited to software compiled to use ARM chips. You can still get the desktop experience of Ubuntu, but not all of the Ubuntu software library. I have been strongly considering ditching Windows entirely and going with an ARM desktop, but I disagree with the pricing.