Removing your Heatspreader Page: 1
The History of the IHS

Remember back in the day all CPU's had their core exposed? This caused many problems, from novice users cracking their cores, to hardcore overclockers killing their CPU's with unorthodox cooling solutions. The Intel Pentium 3 was the first mainstream CPU to feature the IHS. Following that, was the Pentium 4, which included an IHS. Intel's IHS' were mounted the same way AMD K8 CPU's IHS are, with some epoxy and thermal paste. This caused many problems, because sometimes the IHS would not make proper contact with the core, and temperatures would be abnormally high, hence hindering overclockability. So to tackle the problem Intel started soldering their IHS' to their cores.

(From left to right, AMD K6, Intel PIII Tualatin, Intel Pentium 4 Williamette (s423), Intel Pentium 4 (s478), Intel Pentium 4 (s775), AMD K8 (s754, s939)

Why Remove the IHS?

Since the introduction of the K8 series CPU, AMD has been using epoxy to mount their IHS.  To ensure proper thermal transfer between the core and the IHS, they applied a layer of thermal paste.  Sometimes too much or not enough thermal paste get's applied at the factory, or the IHS isn't seated properly on the core.  This can make your CPU run abnormally warm, hence hindering your overclock.  To solve this, people remove their IHS.  When you remove the IHS, your heatsink makes contact directly with your core vs the heat spreader, instantly having better contact with the CPU.

When you have an IHS, the heatsink doesn't make direct contact.  Instead it's almost like a layered cake.  Theres the CPU core, then some thermal paste.  On top of that is a slab of metal, known as the IHS.  Then some thermal paste on that, then finally the base of the heatsink.  Doesn't sound too good for the cooling of the CPU, does it.

When you remove the IHS, it becomes core, thermal paste, then the base of the heatsink, or direct core contact. 

Removing your Heatspreader Page: 2

There is a lot of prep work to be done, before removing your IHS. You need to first confirm your heatsink can be used with an IHS'less cpu. Because the overall height of the CPU is going to be reduced, most heatsinks that use a retention bracket of some sort will not make proper contact.

Something like the image above will occur, when the heatsink is just above the core but not making contact. This can kill your CPU alone. If you have a bolt-down style heatsink like the Thermaltake Big Typhoon, you're ok. All you have to do is tighten the bolt's down a bit further to make up for the IHS. If you have a heatsink that doesn't use screws or bolts to mount, but uses a bracket instead, you will need to modify it. It's quite simple. All you'll need is some sand paper and a lot of time. If you have a dremel tool or a bench grinder this will be much easier.

Modifying your rentention module

Most heatsinks out there use a retention bracket of some sort to mount. If you unscrew the bracket from the board, you will see there are four pegs on the bottom of it that stick out. You will need to sand these off. You might also have to sand down around the screw hole on the bottom too if there is plastic that sticks out. Basically you want the mounting bracket flat on the bottom. If you're worried about fudging your mounting bracket, or you want to buy an extra, you can always purchase a replacement here for a few dollars. When I modified my Thermalright XP-90 bracket, I used a bench grinder. Here's what mine looked like afterwards.

Pretty much flat. Could be flatter, but I'll fix that another time. For now, it'll work fine. Once you've modified your retention module, you will need to gather the required tools for removing the IHS.

The Necessary Tools

To remove your IHS, you'll need the following.

  • New Razor Blade
  • Electrical Tape
  • Foam (preferably stiffer foam)
  • Thermal Paste
  • Paper towels or rag

You can use pretty much any razor blade, just make sure it's extremely thin, and extremely sharp. The electrical tape is to cover the other side of the blade if you have a double sided one, and or to mark off how far to go into the IHS. Typically you want to go in about 4-6mm. You can judge by the pics of my processor how thick the epoxy is. It's best to be safe and go around 2-3 times with the blade, vs trying to get it done in one trip around. Anyway, the Foam is to set the processor on if needed, to make sure you keep those nine-hundred and thirty nine pins safe!! Thermal paste, self explanatory. Paper towel or a rag to clean off the CPU and or IHS. Now let's pop that IHS!!

Removing your Heatspreader Page: 3
Popping the IHS

I, nor is responsible for anything that may happen to you or your CPU, in any way. This can kill your CPU if you're not careful.

Once you have all of your tools ready, and your CPU in front of you, start by finding the part of the black sticker that you can see next to your IHS.

It will stick out just far enough to see. This is where the epoxy is NOT applied, so you should be able to slip your blade in very easily. If you can not identify this, prod around a bit and find a soft spot in the epoxy. It's soft and gooey like, so you'll know when you've found the right spot.

I've found a soft spot in my epoxy. Now, grab the cpu and hold it so it forms a 90º angle between your desk and CPU. Start pushing down gently. Once you come to a corner, turn the knife into the epoxy to go around it nice. Keep going around until you've returned to the spot where you started. If you encounter a hard spot where the knife doens't want to budge along the way, come back to it later or try again with the knife pulled out more. If the knife is clearly not hitting a capacitor on the surface of the CPU, then feel free to give it a bit more oomph. Remember, you're doing this at your own risk.

Once you've gone around once or twice with the blade, if not more, and you're sure you've cut all of the epoxy, give the blade a little twist. You can see above, my IHS is starting to lift. Once you've lifted it a bit on one side, move on to the side across from that and give it a twist. It should pop right off. If not, twist and lift it a bit with your other hand, while twisting. If you're using a bit of force and it's still not coming off, take a trip around the CPU with the razor again, to make sure you've cut all of the epoxy.

Success!! You'll feel great afterwards if you've done it without breaking anything. It's easier than you think, trust me. Now that we've got the IHS off, let's mount the heatsink!!

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Mounting Up

If you've got a retention bracket style heatsink, mount the heatsink in the retention bracket when the retention bracket isn't on the mobo. Install your CPU, and slide the mounting bracket screws into the bracket. Set the heatsink & bracket assembly down on the CPU and screw the bracket down in a back and forth pattern to apply even pressure. If you do not do this, you might put un-even pressure on the CPU core.

This may cause the core to crack. This can kill your CPU, so make sure you screw down the bracket with the heatsink in it. If you have a bolt-down style heatsink, feel free to mount as you usually do. Don't be afraid to tighten the screws down fairly tight. A loose heatsink can be deadly too. Once you've mounted the heatsink, fire up your rig and be amazed at your temps.


Q: My PC doesn't post after successfully following this guide.
A: It is most likely because your CPU is not getting proper contact. Uninstall your heatsink and make sure there is contact (thermal paste will be spread where the core was.)

Q: My temp's are higher after removing my IHS than before
A: You may not have tightened down your heatsink enough, or your retention bracket isn't flat enough on the bottom. If both are perfect, your socket cam may be taller than your core. The cam is the part that says Socket 939 on it. You may need to sand it down a bit to get proper contact.

Q: Are there any other alternative methods of removing the IHS?
None worth mentioning in my opinion. Some people say to use dental floss but I think this is more dangerous, as your pins could be bent more easily this way.

Q: I broke a capacitor off of the top of my CPU when removing my IHS, is it safe to use the CPU still?
A: In most cases, it will be fine. It might hinder overclocking, or the chip might be dead, but in most cases it seems like the chip survives and act's just as it had before.

Q: I cut into the CPU's PCB, will the CPU be OK?
A: Depending on how deep the cut was, no. You most likely cut small electrical traces inside the PCB. You can still try to fire up the rig with the CPU in it but if it doesn't post, you cut some traces.

Q: I chipped my core attempting to mount my heatsink. Will the CPU be ok?
A: Depending on the size of the chip, it should be just fine.

Q: I bent a few pins when removing the IHS, can I bend these back?
A: Yes, it is best to use a 0.5mm mechanical pencil tip to do so. Be careful and bend them slowly or you might snap one off.

Q: Is removing the IHS ideal when running a watercooled rig?
A: Absolutely, more so than with air cooling.

Q: Is removing the IHS ideal when running a rig cooled with a pelt, or phase change?
No, you're taking a large risk of cracking the core in these cases.


I hope you all enjoyed this guide. Feel free to post in the thread with any questions, etc. On a scale from 1-10, 10 being the hardest, I'd give this gude a 7/10, and I do not reccomend novice users try this.