Intel finally responds to bending 12th gen Alder Lake CPUs on LGA1700 motherboards

Intel Alder Lake CPU bending
via AnandTech

Intel did a good job with with its 12th Gen Alder Lake CPUs in terms of how the chips perform. However, there have been reports of the desktop Alder Lake-S processors bending for a long time when placed inside their Socket LGA1700 motherboards. For example, even reviewers like AnandTech, among others, noticed the issue (image above).

Intel has finally responded to all these reports. In a statement to Tom's Hardware, the company has stated that bending of the integrated heat spreader (IHS) shouldn't cause any major issue and that this sort of deflection is common. Here's the firm's full statement:

We have not received reports of 12th Gen Intel Core processors running outside of specifications due to changes to the integrated heat spreader (IHS). Our internal data show that the IHS on 12th Gen desktop processors may have slight deflection after installation in the socket. Such minor deflection is expected and does not cause the processor to run outside of specifications. We strongly recommend against any modifications to the socket or independent loading mechanism. Such modifications would result in the processor being run outside of specifications and may void any product warranties.

The problem seems to stem from the LGA1700's Independent Loading Mechanism (ILM) as the apparent uneven pressure seems to bend the processor when mounted inside its socket.

Here's a before-after image comparison of the incident:

As you can see above, there is a clear gap between the flat surfaces of the cooler and the IHS indicated by the visible light between chip and the cooler when it is placed inside the socket. You can also watch this video below by Jisaku Hibi which shows the bend in action:

Tom's Hardware also asked additional questions to Intel related to how the bending could affect the various performance aspects and the well being of the processor as well as the socket that you can read below. The answers by the Intel spokesperson are emboldened.

  • Are there any planned changes to the ILM design? This condition might only exist with certain versions of the ILM. Can you confirm that these ILM are to spec?
    • Based on current data, we can’t attribute the IHS deflection variation to any specific vendor or socket mechanism. However, we are investigating any potential issues alongside our partners and customers, and we will provide further guidance on relevant solutions as appropriate.
  • Some users report reduced thermal transfer from the deflection issue, which makes sense as it clearly impacts the ability of the IHS to mate with the cooler. Would Intel RMA the chip if the mating was poor enough to lead to thermal throttling?
    • Minor IHS deflection is expected and does not cause the processor to run outside of specifications or prevent the processor from meeting published frequencies under the proper operating conditions. We recommend users who observe any functional issues with their processors to contact Intel Customer Service.
  • The chip deflection issue also impacts motherboards – as a result of the deflection on the chip, the socket ends up bending the rear of the socket, and thus the motherboard. This raises the possibility of damage to the traces running through the motherboard PCB, etc. Is this condition also within spec?
    • When there’s backplate bending occurring on the motherboard, the warping is being caused by the mechanical load being placed on the motherboard to make electrical contact between the CPU and the socket. There’s no direct correlation between IHS deflection and backplate bending, other than they can both be caused by the mechanical socket loading.

For those wondering if there's any unofficial workaround for the problem, there does exist a washer mod which has been tested by Igor'sLAB. However Intel has cautioned that, such modifications, among others, will void your warranty.

Source: Tom's Hardware

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