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A64 / Opteron Ihs Removal Guide

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This mod has the very real potential to go wrong. You can cut too far and cut of one of the capacitor networks (small surface mounted components around the core) which will either result in a cpu that doesn't work or one that won't overclock as high as it would have done.


Another risk is that during the cutting, you may bend, break, or otherwise damage the pins. Many of the pins are redundant "key" pins so you may get lucky if you break one off, or you might not be so lucky.


I almost forgot to mention, the warranty is void when you do this, so if you mess up or you kill the cpu later by too much voltage or whatever then you can't rma it.




Benefits and considerations


Why take the risk?


So what is the point of all this? The idea is for the heatsink or water-block to have direct contact with the cpu core. The temperature improvements will depend on several factors including the extent to which the following is true: the IHS is not flat, the application of the internal thermal interface between the core and the IHS (looks like shin-etsu) is poor, the heatsink/water-block base is not flat.


Heatsink choice


A bolt down heatsink or waterblock should work without modification unless the surface of the sink/block extends over the cam block (where it says "Socket 939") and then you will have to see if the cpu core is at a higher point than the cam block. If it is then the sink/block can lie flat on the core and you have no problem, if the cpu core is lower than the cam block then you will have to sand down the cam block enough so that it is lower than the surface of the cpu core.


If you have a heatsink that uses a clip-on retention mechanism then you can make it work by modifying the base of the bracket.


Thermalright XP-120 retention bracket



(click to enlarge)


Here you can see the bracket has four small "feet" and then two larger tube-like structures for the bolts.



(click to enlarge)


These need to be filed down but NOT all the way. You only need to file these down about 2mm (the thickness of the central part of the IHS). Filing down any further will put additional pressure on the core and will also likely cause problems with component clearance on the motherboard.



(click to enlarge)


In the photo above the heatsink bracket is shifted over to reveal one of the components around the socket that is relatively tall. When the bracket is in its normal position the component is underneath the bracket and causes the bracket to rock because the bracket rests on the component (there is one on the other side too). The small mosfet sink that is circled around the top of the picture would pose a problem if i had filed down the feet any further as one of the heatpipes *just* touches this heatsink. If the mosfet sink had caused a clearance issue with the lowered heatpipe, I would have had to file it down. Luckily I didn't.



(click to enlarge)


I marked out the offending areas with a pencil and then filed the underside of the bracket just enough so that the bracket lies completely rigid with no rocking motion when in place.




For my 3500+, I had temperature problems with the IHS on. My load temps soared in excess of 65�C even with moderate vcore values, and a confirmed perfect AS5 application.


3500+ Venice with Thermalright SLK-948u and Vantec Tornado 92mm


Before (idle/load): 44�C / >65�C

After (idle/load): 35�C / 43�C


Opteron 146 with Thermalright XP-120 and Panaflo 120mm Hi


Before (idle/load): 37�C / 55�C

After (idle/load): 33�C / 43�C





* Retractable blade (aka Stanley knife)

* A suitable beverage of your choice

* Isopropyl Alchohol

* Lint-free cloth or Q-tips (aka cotton buds)



The danger zones


A good idea is to print out a photo of a naked Athlon64 or Opteron to see what is underneath and what kind of distance you have to work with.


Opteron 146 (939)



(click to enlarge)


A64 Venice 3500+



(click to enlarge)


As you can see in the photo, the red lines mark out the edges of the small capacitor networks and the orange lines mark out the additional room you have at the corners. Note that, on the Opteron, along two sides the gap between the black adhesive and the capacitor networks is larger than along the adjacent sides. The Athlon64 seems to have fairly equidistant gaps on all sides. Make a mental note of these distances as well as keeping the printed photo at hand for reference.



Cutting tool


Now, I used a retractable blade, also commonly known in the UK as a Stanley knife. I'm not sure what they're called elsewhere in the world, but I know they exist worldwide and pretty much every household should have one (shame on you if you don't have one!) A lot of other people have had success with bare razor blades, the type you put in an old-man razor, not a Gillette Mach3! The problem with that is that you have to either be extra careful with the razor, or tape up one side so you don't slice your fingers open. I don't have an old-man razor, and I have a Stanley knife, so the choice was obvious. You might have noticed there is a scalpel type knife in the Athlon 64 photo. This did NOT work because the blade was too thick to fit between the IHS and the cpu circuit board.



Cutting technique




Ok, so on to the method I use for taking off the IHS. In the bottom of the cpu tray there is some dense foam to protect the pins. I suggest you place the cpu on this foam and press the cpu down onto the foam so the pins are a little more protected than nothing at all. You still have to exercise caution when holding the cpu tightly in position while cutting, I tried to hold the cpu along the edges without pressing the pins in from the sides, and also supported it from the back in the centre (on the foam).


Cutting motion



(click to enlarge)


Here you can see that the blade is lined up along one side. At this moment you can locate the edge of the blade underneath the IHS ready to cut. Leave a bit of blade free so you can rotate the blade as pictured. It is very much like trying to cut the hardest cheese in the world so don't be too worried if you don't cut very far at first. Cut down a little bit and then work your way round a bit on that corner. Then move oto the next corner and so on. Once you've got most of the way through you should be especially careful not too slip and cut too far beyond the black adhesive strip (observing the distances in the photo you printed off).


You should end up with all of the corners done and the remaining part is in the middle of each edge. What I do is get the blade lined up so that only the end part is underneath the IHS and then *carefully* pull the blade along the edge. This is where you have to exercise the most control. I think the key is to gradually cut through all the corners a bit at a time, moving around the cpu, and then cut the sides a bit at a time, continuing to rotate.



Video footage


My digital camera has a video capture feature but the screen power-saving feature was annoyingly turning the screen off so I didn't know that each video capture is limited to 30 seconds regardless of the free space on the memory card. After realising this I managed to do a few takes throughout the process but annoyingly some of the footage didn't get recorded at the end for the final stages of cutting the sides. But I think you'll get a very good insight into how this technique is carried out by watching the video :D


IHS Removal video






(music from Dirty South live on Breaks.fm online radio)

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hey nrgy, that is a VERY (im disapointed to say it...) kickass guide. could it be possible to open up the ihs, like peel it off but only when half of it is cut though. oh hey, i shaved off like 5

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Does teh decreas in Temps give you a better OC, and how much? becuase without real results, it's all jsut fluf..


LOL, better temps help with stability and more potential overclocking. and he did post real results. you might wanna search em though.

btw nrg, the video (asides from the boring english music :lol: ) was very good.

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swifty: um, how would you peel the ihs off? you can't really get a good enough grip on it, and you're cutting anyway, may as well cut all the way around and it'll just fall off by itself


babybalrog: i posted the temp benefits, the oc benefits aren't really THAT big i guess... maybe like ~100-170mhz... big enough for me tho :D


silverfox: don't you darling me! :lol:

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Nice guide!


I have one question though, how tall is the actual core itself? (in milimeters)

I have seen other people who have removed the IHS also installed a shim of some sorts to help protect the core. DIY shims have used rubber, foam, or even a old metal shim from a 9800pro to help protect the core. You might want to consider installing a shim later on in the future.

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