Intel’s position on Alder Lake’s warping and bending issues

The socket of Intel’s 12th generation Core desktop processor has changed from LGA 1200 to LGA 1700, and the size has also changed from 37.5 × 37.5 mm to 45 × 37.5 mm. Its shape has also changed from a square to a rectangle, and the locking method is also different from before. The increase in area and the change in shape have brought about a situation that was not expected before.


Alder Lake warping issues

Since the latch of the LGA 1700 socket is obviously much more stressed than the LGA 1200 socket, the IHS in the middle of the processor is under huge pressure, and the processor will be bent when used for a long time. A more serious problem is that it affects the cooling effect of the processor. Previously, some PC enthusiasts used M4 washers through the four screw positions of the LGA 1700 socket or used self-made brackets to solve this problem.

Recently, Intel issued a statement through TomsHardware, expressing its position on related issues:

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.”

Intel acknowledged the problems but said it would not cause performance issues. When Intel says reports of processors running out of spec, they mean that the deformation doesn’t make the chip hotter than 100 degrees Celsius, and the added heat doesn’t push it below the base frequency. However, this does not mean that there is no impact on performance, the processor may not reach the maximum turbo frequency, or the duration is short. In addition to the processor, the motherboard may also bend after prolonged use, increasing the chance of damage.

In addition, Intel also answered some questions from the media.
  • 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.” —Intel Spokesperson to Tom’s Hardware.
  • 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.” —Intel Spokesperson to Tom’s Hardware.
  • The chip deflection issue also impacts motherboards. As a result of the deflection on the chip, the rear of the socket ends up bending, 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.” —Intel Spokesperson to Tom’s Hardware.