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The CPU & Heatsink Lapping Guide
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Lapping Thermal Surfaces For Better Cooling!

Hardware enthusisasts have always looked for ways to keep the processor running cooler. Not only does it improve the processor's stability, it also increases its overclockability. Hence, the use of better thermal pastes, larger heatsinks and more powerful fans. However, there is only so much you can do with air cooling.

This has led to the use of water cooling for better cooling performance. While cumbersome, expensive and harder to install and maintain, water cooling has allowed enthusiasts to achieve a new level of cooling performance. But what about those who cannot or will not shift to water cooling?

There is another way to significantly improve our cooling capabilities without resorting to new coolers, thermal pastes or fans. In fact, you can use this technique to improve whatever cooling system you choose to use. All you have to do is lap.

What is lapping? Lapping (or grinding) is a machining technique where an abrasive material is used to cut into and polish the object. Lapping can be used to both obtain a flatter surface as well as a smoother surface, but not necessarily both at the same time. This is a mistake made by many novices. They often assume that a mirror finish denotes both a very flat surface as well as a smooth one. In fact, you can obtain a mirror finish on any surface, whether it's curved or flat.

In computing, enthusiasts use lapping to ensure a flatter and smoother thermal contact surface (between the CPU and the heatsink). This improves thermal conductivity by allowing for closer contact between the contact surfaces. This increases the transmission of heat from the CPU to the heatsink, reducing the CPU temperature.

Of the two properties, obtaining a flatter surface is far more important than a smoother surface. A mirror finish is nice, but as mentioned above, it does not mean that the contact surface is flat. Also, it is quite impossible for us to manually polish a surface to a mirror finish without using some kind of polishing agent. Using a polishing agent is highly discouraged, as some of the polishing agent will remain on the surface and contaminate the contact surface, reducing the effectiveness of the thermal paste.

So, forget about mirror finishes. If you want better thermal conductivity, lap the surface with flatness first and foremost in mind. If you can also achieve a smoother surface, all the better. But never at the expense of using polishing agents.

Today, graysky will show you just how to do that. Let's get started!






Lapping The Heatsink Base
After Lapping The Heatsink Base


Lapping The CPU Heatspreader
After Lapping The CPU Heatspreader


Overall Results
Temperature Variation Between CPU Cores


So How Do You Lap?



Next Page : Lapping The Heatsink Base, After Lapping The Heatsink Base >>>


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