Investigating Reports Of Intel Skylake CPUs Damaged By CPU Coolers

Reports have begun to surface of Intel 6th-gen (Skylake) CPUs and their corresponding motherboards being damaged from some cooling solutions. Some reports suggest that these chips have a weaker construction that can sustain damage when too much pressure is applied. A German tech website,, did some independent testing and determined that the substrate on Skylake CPU’s is thinner than that of previous generations. As a result, CPU coolers that apply high levels of pressure to the CPU and socket can sometimes damage both, according to the site.

Cooler Makers Response Tepid So Far

We were first alerted to the issue by Arctic in a press release. The company made the announcement yesterday that it has verified that all of its CPU coolers are fully Skylake compatible following reports of possible damage. Arctic did note that due to the potential of being dropped in shipping, the company recommends removal of the CPU cooler for transport. Arctic even recommended that system builders have the end user install the cooler after shipping.

Scythe appears to be among the only companies affected so far. The company made a post on its support page noting that it will be redesigning the mounting mechanism for Skylake CPUs. The company said that its CPU coolers are “compatible with Skylake sockets in general,” but the H.P.M.S mounting system employed can cause damage if the PC is exposed to strong shocks sometimes caused by shipping. Scythe said the solution is a new set of screws that reduces the mounting pressure. Affected coolers include Ashura, Mugen 4, Mugen 4 PCGH-Edition, Fuma, Ninja 4, Grand Kama Cross 4, Mugen Max and Kotetsu. If you are using one of these coolers, Scythe will send a set of upgraded screws free of charge if you fill out this form.

We’ve reached out to a number of other vendors who provide cooling solutions for Intel CPUs, including Cooler Master, Corsair and NZXT. We’ve yet to hear back from Cooler Master and Corsair but NZXT had this to say:

"All NZXT Kraken Series closed loop liquid coolers are fully compliant with Intel's socket 1151 mechanical force specification. The mounting system developed for NZXT's liquid coolers does not encounter the problems associated with either gravity that large fin arrays of oversized tower coolers have or with Skylake's changes in substrate and IHS thickness. 

Our older generation of large tower coolers (Havik 120/140) are mounting and pressure compatible with socket 1151, but we advise against using them with socket 1151 CPUs due to potential of force exerted on the socket by the weight of the cooler."

Intel Investigates

We reached out to Intel for a comment about the situation. The company stated that it was made aware of the issue only within the last two days. Intel is currently investigating the issue, and a company representative said there “could be several variables at play” but noted that most vendors have relayed that they haven’t had any problems.

Intel did confirm that the substrate design for Skylake processors is indeed thinner than previous designs, but it is rated for the same 50lb. maximum static load as prior generations. The company stated that it doesn’t test third party solutions, but it does provide detailed specifications guidelines for vendors to follow.

Until this situation has been sorted out, it may be a good idea to not travel with your Skylake-based PC unless you remove your heatsink first. If you are looking at building a new PC, stick with coolers that have been confirmed for now.

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  • BulkZerker
    $400 CPUs... And Intel is too cheap to brace the heat spreader with $.05 worth of aluminum
  • kcarbotte
    367869 said:
    $400 CPUs... And Intel is too cheap to brace the heat spreader with $.05 worth of aluminum

    its not the heatspreader that is bending, its the substrate that is affected.
    It's also not Intel's responsibility if a company doesn't adhere to Intel's specifications when designing its mounting mechanisms.

    Thus far it seems to be isolated to Scythe coolers but Intel is doing its due diligence to varify that.
  • jimmysmitty
    367869 said:
    $400 CPUs... And Intel is too cheap to brace the heat spreader with $.05 worth of aluminum

    It looks like the issue is one of two cases:

    1. The system is moved around heavily and dropped (such as in shipping) or

    2. The heatsink mounting causes more pressure to be put on than the CPU can handle. This is not due to there not being enough aluminum but rather than the CPU itself is smaller and thinner due to newer technologies.

    This issue probably will not affect 99% of the people.