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Shim a CPU??



Hi all:) I am getting ready to change the heatsink on my Athlon xp 1900 and am adding a Volcano 9. I am seeing shims sold to "level" the heatsink on the cpu. My questions are this,

First, is a shim needed?

Second, if so... should it be copper and conduct heat or made of another material that does not...

I took this from one retail site... "After several weeks of testing, we have a great product that still the only true 100% Non-Conductive Shim. It's also the only shim that doesn't conduct heat, unlike some copper shims".

"Meets the UL-64V0 standard
Cool green marble color
Temp range: -50 - +1200 degrees Fahrenheit
Tensile Strength: Rigid (Excellent)
Excellent Electrical Insulator
Won't hold the heat next to the core like copper can
Made from Phlogotite Mica"

Lastly, am I making a big deal out of nothing:D

Thanks a bunch in advance,

Gus K

NTFS abuser
Yes, they are unecessary. But they are also good insurance against the chance that something happens while installing the HSF. Some springs can be a bit tricky. They are mostly non-conductive, but the shim is thinner than the core (hopefully). The HSF has to rest snugly on the core, not the shim.


hardware monkey
big deal over nothing. shims are a great idea and i don't build a comp without one anymore... but what they're made of, their thermal properties, etc. are irrelevant.

i bought a few cheap ones at a local computer show & sale. they're just normal copper and cost like $3 each. they do a perfect job.
I think shims are basically to prevent cracking the core when inserting the HSF at a slight angle (putting too much pressure on one edge of the core).

I have removed the HSF from my T-bird and XP about 8 times total and haven't cracked anything. You just have to be careful to not apply hardly any pressure until the HSF is totally flat on those little pads. This can be hard sometimes with the strength of some springs.

I really think the lug-on-socket idea is a bit outdated anyway. I'm and AMD guy, but I think Intel has a leg up on securing the HSF to the CPU. Intel's solution even allows for much higher HSF to CPU contact pressure.


F@H - Is it in you?
Staff member
Political User
the shim is basically added insurance for the older palomino core and thoroughbred cpu's... not the newer 0.13 micron process cpu's...

amd does not recommend the use of shims (copper or otherwise) when installing an HSF on the new revision B cpu's... this is to allow for greater contact pressure on the cpu and also to prevent any possible spacing between the hsf and the cpu...

if you are using a processor.. say 2200+ and lower... go ahead and use a shim... it basically ensures that if one of the litte 'legs' that support the hsf on top of the cpu breaks.. the cpu will not be crushed.. specially by one of these brand new MASSIVE heatsinks :)

I too have removed my hsf a couple of times/cleaned it and changed the thermal compound (from one type to another) and changed my hsf itself (from coolermaster copper pipe to current) and have not had a problem..

I like coolermasters clip design ease of use quite a bit... you dont need a flat head screwdriver to use it properly and thats kewl...

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