It appears that select third-party CPU air cooling systems are putting too much pressure on Skylake processors and sockets resulting in damage, as first reported by German-language site PC Games Hardware.
The problem appears to happen while shipping or moving a PC, when sudden shocks and other movement can put pressure on the mount point and bend the CPU, causing damage to the socket pins in the motherboard.
Skylake processors are noticeably thinner than their Broadwell predecessors thanks to a notably thinner substrate. Games Hardware suspects the problem is caused by that extra thinness, combined with the fact that many cooler makers didn’t see the need to adapt their designs for the new chip and its new LGA1151 socket.
Who exactly is to blame, however, is unclear. Intel’s recommended heat sink compressive static load in LGA1151 remains the same as it did for its predecessor, which is 50 pounds of force (lbf). That’s why cooler makers didn’t bother to change anything with their designs.
Intel confirmed to Tom’s Hardware that Skylake CPUs are thinner than previous designs. The company also said it was only recently made aware of the issue and is investigating.
So far, only cooler maker Scythe has come up with a solution for the problem. The company is offering a new screw set for free to owners of select coolers, including Mugen 4, Mugen 4 PCGH-Edition, and Mugen Max. The new screws reduce the mounting pressure on Skylake CPUs, avoiding damage to the processor and the motherboard. You can find out more about the screw swap on Scythe’s website.
The impact on you at home: Putting your own PC rig together is hard enough without having to worry about whether your motherboard and processor are properly rated for pressure. Intel and cooler makers have to clear this up and discover the cause of the problem and how to mitigate it. For now, anyone with a Skylake CPU should remove the cooler before they even think about moving their desktop—even if you’re just crossing the room.