Intel Kaby Lake i7-7700K CPU De-Lid & Re-Lid Results

Is there any reason at all to take a razor blade, garage workbench vice, or any sort of other tool to your brand new Kaby Lake CPU? Of course there is. That reason being that the Thermal Interface Material used by Intel on its desktop CPUs is pretty much least to us enthusiasts.

WTF is Delidding?

Preface: I will follow-up this article with another that actually shows the process of delidding and relidding that we used for this article. Long story short, I shot it all on video and "lost" the video. New camera will be here next week along with a new retail Kaby Lake Core i5-7600K and I will shoot it all again.

"Delidding" refers to removing the Integrated Heat Spreader (IHS) from a CPU. The IHS is that big silver metal thing on top of your CPU with the part number lasered onto it. It is there to protect the actual processor die, as these dies are very fragile and can be destroyed from just a tiny bit of damage.

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If you take off that IHS, you are left with this. And that is what delidding is in a nutshell.

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Why Delidding and then Relidding?

There are two reasons to delid your processor. Once delidded, you can run your cooling block directly on the face of your CPU die and this can bring your CPU temperatures down greatly. However, not a lot of folks desire this method due to the fact that you can easily chip off a tiny corner of your CPU die, rendering it totally useless. For most of us, we are going to elect to replace the Thermal Interface Material (TIM) between the CPU die and the IHS, and then put the IHS back in its original place. We would do this because the enthusiast can replace their TIM with a much better one than Intel has blessed the Kaby Lake with. For the enthusiast, the Kaby Lake TIM is pretty much crap. For everyday normal people desktop usage, it is just fine.

How to Delid?

There are a few ways to delid. We have been delidding CPUs since CPUs had lids. We have also been breaking CPUs since CPUs had lids, well actually before, but that is another story, and one reason why CPU have IHS units now days. The safest way we have found is to use a tool specifically designed to remove the IHS. The guys over at Overclock UK were kind enough to send us a Delid-Die-Mate. These tools have been out for a while and are not specified for usage with Kaby Lake processors (yet.) That said, you can do a bit of modding on this Delid-Die-Mate and make it work just fine with Kaby Lake. The tool used here today works fine for delidding the Kaby Lake, but is not machined properly to relid the Kaby Lake.

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You bolt the CPU into the Delid-Die-Mate and the tool basically pushes the IHS sideways till it releases. All very simple.

How to Relid?

Putting the IHS back on is easy. We used our new TIM Coollaboratory Liquid Ultra. I then used a tube of high heat automotive Red RTV used for making gaskets on car engines to attach the IHS. I used red instead of black so we could easily see it in the video...which we don't have anymore. Anyway, you can see it below around the edges of the IHS. While the delid tool works fine for removal of the Kaby Lake IHS, it is not machined properly to relid the CPU. All we had to do however, was remove some of the material that was machined to fit the Skylake part. Likely you can tell my Dremel work from the original machining work on the tool. There is a bit of cleaning and prep involved which we will cover next week in-depth.

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Kaby Lake Delidding Results

I know this single chart is likely why many of you are here, so excuse me for droning on above if you already know the ins and outs of all of this.

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Replacing our Kaby Lake TIM resulted in a 25.28% decrease in package temperature under a full load for an hour. I am using a Koolance triple radiator and model 360 Koolance water block.

As we explained Monday, this CPU is not up to our 5GHz/3600MHz overclocking target. It would BSOD within minutes of putting it under load. It was stable at 4.9GHz with ~1.35v vCore, which is quite a bit.

Of course we wanted to see if the 7700K was stable at 5GHz now. Well "kinda" but "not really," and this depends on your definition of stable, and it likely does not meet yours. It does not in my book anyway.

I was able to run it fully loaded for over two hours before it gave us the BSOD.

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The Bottom Line

That was a whole lot of effort for not much result. But it was fun as hell. I am testing now to see where we get backing the memory clock down.

Thanks again to Overclockers UK for sending the Delid-Die-Mate over to use to test with. It will be used again soon.