Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Poor contact between the Core i7 4790K and Enermax Liqtech 120x

Liqtech 120x

Last Friday I bought a new cooler for my Devil's Canyon CPU: the Enermax Liqtech 120x. I thought it would perform better than my Antec Kuhler 620 because of its extra thick radiator. I was wrong. It doesn't perform better than the Kuhler 620, at least In my case.

First of all, I used only one fan because both fans wouldn't fit in the case. I knew this beforehand. I used the Gentle Typhoon AP29 initially, the exact same thing I had used with the Kuhler. It shouldn't have any difficulty cooling the radiator at least when running at full blast. The grills in the radiator didn't seem as  dense as the Kuhler's so I doubt so I don't think having the two stock fans would have made much of a difference, except pushing all that warm air that's trapped inside the case out easily. Later on, I switched to one of the stock fans because I started hearing a weird noise from the AP29 when it was installed after the radiator as pull. I was using it as a push fan on the Kuhler 620's radiator.

Anyways, I have a feeling it had nothing to do with the fans because as I found out, there is a very simple reason for the cooler not performing well. There isn't a very good contact between the water block and the heat spreader (IHS) of the CPU. It is concave in one direction. The water block is perfectly flat. The heatsink doesn't touch the IHS at the middle of the CPU and that's where we should get proper contact.

When I applied thermal paste using the spread method, the cold plate had no contact with the IHS like in the following photo.


The only remedy without losing warranty is to apply more thermal paste in the middle. But it isn't as good as direct contact. Not even close. Only better than no contact. Still it made the CPU temps drop by about 5-10C. Sadly, it still wasn't much better than the Kuhler 620 which in fact has a slightly convex cold plate to counter the concavity of the Intel IHS.

So whose fault is this?

Intel's, of course.

But the thing is, it is common knowledge that there is some sagging in the Intel IHS'. Most coolers that perform well in the field have slightly protruded or convex heat sink base (if it's a heat sink) or cold plate (if it is a water cooler). The Enermax Liqtech 120x has no mechanism to counter it. Some CPUs of course have excessive sagging in their IHS and probably the only thing you can do is to RMA the chip.

But the amount of concavity observed with my chip didn't appear to be excessive. So RMAing is out of the question. But there is one thing I can do: send back the new cooler.

And that's what I did. I sent it back to Amazon telling that the cooler cannot be used as intended be cause the length of the screws were inadequate to install the second fan. It is a known issue with this cooler but I wasn't going to use the 2nd fan anyways so wasn't really affect me unless I was installing the fan as push. Amazon refunded me the full amount.

I'm pleased I could get rid of that junk. But that still doesn't fix my issue. The CPU is running too hot.

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