There’s good news for enthusiasts and fans of high-performance processors, at least in theory. After years of relying on thermal paste between its actual CPU die and the integrated heat spreader, or IHS, Intel may finally move back to solder for its highest-end desktop microprocessors.
Delidding Intel CPUs started to become popular with Haswell, when it became clear that the integrated voltage regulator contributed to the chips running hot. Normally, enthusiasts think about thermal paste as something you apply between the top of the metal cap on the CPU and the bottom of your heatsink, but there’s an entire additional layer of material between the top of the CPU die and the heat spreader. If you’re wondering why Intel and AMD use heat spreaders in the first place, the answer is for protection. Trying to balance a heatsink on a tiny die and a few felt pads isn’t a task for the faint-hearted, as many a cracked Athlon core could attest. (AMD used to ship CPUs sans heat spreaders. It wasn’t great).
Now, to the actual leak in question. According to Videocardz, Intel’s Core i9-9900K and possibly lower-end models like the Core i7-9700K and Core i5-9600K will all use solder, not thermal paste. Maximum turbo clocks are also higher on all three chips compared to eighth-generation cores.
The degree to which enthusiast overclocking headroom will improve over stock will depend on how aggressively Intel has attempted to capitalize on the advantages of moving to solder in the first place. But regardless, solder has been a massive ask from the enthusiast community since at least Haswell, and Intel is finally moving to deliver.