CPU Socket Cooler Compatibility

Top motherboard, flagship processor and powerful video card – a recipe for comfortable gaming in any game and at any settings? It was not so. First, we study the nuances, and then we swing at the “treadmill”. And the little things in the assembly of even a home tabletop will be filled with a whole carriage. For example, many do not know that new Intel processors cannot be efficiently cooled with current coolers. And we know and tell.

With each generation of technology, manufacturers are simplifying the process of assembling and setting up a computer. Thermal grease is already applied to the cooler’s sole, hints and descriptions of connectors are printed on the motherboard , and instead of a jumper for overclocking the processor, intuitive BIOS settings are now implemented. Nevertheless, the electronics market itself is working with a delay – now Intel is actively promoting 11th generation processors and is already starting to sell the 12th , and you can still find representatives of Skylake and Kaby Lake on store shelves.

For this reason, manufacturers of some components face fragmentation . For example, almost always changing the generation of processors requires changing the socket – the connector into which the chip is installed. This is necessary for various reasons. Newer chips can have different cores or higher clock speeds, which affects power consumption . Naturally, the system has to use more pins to power additional streams – therefore, a different socket is needed.

The component market is updated almost every year, including processors. Therefore, over the past few years, Intel and AMD have changed several generations of chips and platforms. Some of them are already deprecated , while others are still used in mid-level builds. Let’s consider the main sockets and their characteristics, as well as understand the compatibility of current cooling systems .

LGA 775 – the golden legend
The first Intel socket of this type. Released in 2004 and still found in production systems. Moreover, it can be either an office machine from 2009, or a completely capable assembly on a quad-core Core 2 Quad with DDR3 memory on board. With proper tuning, the flagship processors of this series went on a par with some modern chips to the last. But recently, Intel has artificially limited the capabilities of the legendary generation with new instructions.

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The LGA775 socket is considered a long-lived one – the last processor for this socket was released in 2010. Six years of faithful service and six families: Celeron, Pentium, Pentium Dual-Core, Core 2 Duo, Core 2 Quad and Xeon.

The socket is compact by modern standards – the distance between the nearest holes for installing cooling racks is only 72 mm. Therefore, it remains the only platform of the previous generation with its own type of attachment. Manufacturers supported it to the last and only recently stopped completing the current versions of coolers and LSS with suitable brackets. However, some systems still support the old LGA775.

Intel loves to experiment with hardware modifications, so releasing a new socket for the blue camp engineers is not a problem. For example, the LGA1156 socket was released in 2009, and the next socket appeared in 2011. And it’s okay that the LGA1155 processors received only one pin less than the previous Cores – please completely change the platform. The same thing happened with the release of LGA1150, then LGA1151 and finally LGA1200.

The LGA1156 socket is a transition platform and supports two chip families: Clarkdale and Lynnfield. These are the first Intel desktop processors with an on-chip memory controller and graphics core . To connect the new blocks, the manufacturer had to add 381 pins to the socket.

The next socket for desktop systems was LGA1155. Less by one pin, but twice more GB / s – Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge processors received a DMI 2.0 bus with increased bandwidth. The higher the bus version, the faster the work SATA and USB.

Despite the one pin difference, sockets 1156 and 1155 are not physically compatible. In order to prevent the LGA1156 processor from getting into the LGA1155 socket, the manufacturer not only changed the pinout, but also added new keys to the socket. User opinions about this generation differ – some believe in technology, while others consider such a move to be frank marketing.

Nevertheless, processors of this time, until recently, “thundered” in the market. Suffice it to recall the popular, legendary and simply unique Core i7 2600K – 5 GHz across all cores on the home user’s desk and 2133 MHz of RAM available to anyone.

The LGA1150 has survived two generations of processors: Haswell and Broadwell. The socket was introduced in 2013 and became the first desktop socket to house 14nm chips. Since then, Intel has changed little about the Core processors. Therefore, on paper this is an outdated socket, although in practice it hardly differs from the same LGA1151.

The second long-lived Desktop series after LGA775 and the first Intel platform to support the new DDR4 memory standard . The socket appeared in 2015 and has existed for four generations of processors. The first chips with support for LGA1151 were Skylake processors with the same core architecture. Later, the Kaby Lake generation appeared – the seventh family on the same architecture, the same transistors and similar controllers. The clock frequencies have changed – the processors have received an increase of 100-200 MHz.

And only in the eighth generation of chips, the company carried out a reform – released processors with an increased number of cores and threads. So, the chips of the Core i5 series turned from quad-core to six-core, and the older Core i7 received 12 threads. To activate support for new processors, Intel did not physically change the socket, but only updated it programmatically. Later the company released Refresh chips – the ninth series with increased frequencies and the first “desktop” Core i9 in the line.

The latest and still valid Intel socket, which appeared in the second quarter of 2020. The first processors to support the new socket were Comet Lake chips, followed by Rocket Lake. Due to unknown circumstances, the company again turned to the 14 nm process technology and continued to produce chips on the old conveyor. Nevertheless, in favor of new technologies, Intel engineers had to change something in the design.

The socket received an additional 49 pins, which are responsible for powering the increased power cores, and also include support for PCI Express 4.0. Despite the hardware changes, the new generation processors and sockets remain in the same form factor. Traditionally, the company introduced a new key arrangement to eliminate backward support for LGA1200 and LGA1151.

So, over ten years of technological progress, the company has released five sockets. Each platform change forced users to get rid of “outdated” equipment and move to new connectors, chipsets and processors. As a rule, this was done in order to update and be in trend – without a tangible gain in performance. Still, there were some positive moments in this – Intel changed sockets, processors and chipsets, but did not touch the location of the mounting holes for installing the cooling system . Therefore, literally all platforms, starting with the LGA 1156, used the same type of mount with a distance of 75 mm between the posts.

The owner of the system could move to new hardware from year to year, but the cooling system remained the same – a plus for those who once purchased a flagship cooler like the Noctua D15 or even use a custom liquid cooling system.

LGA 1700 – 10nm, hybrid architecture and new cooling
The latest in the desktop processor world is the recently announced 1700-pin socket and the Alder Lake family of processors. The new generation chips are distinguished by support for Intel Hybrid Technology – energy-efficient and high-performance cores combined on a single die. A similar solution is used in mobile ARM processors and is called big.LITTLE.

The appearance of an additional block of cores under the cover of the processor led to the increased dimensions of both the chip and the socket – now there are also 500 more contacts for power supply and interaction with LITTLE cores. Naturally, the previous site was not able to accommodate such a number of additional points, and the engineers had to increase the dimensions of the connector.

Following the new dimensions of the socket (37.5 × 45 mm), the Z-height of the socket has also changed. Intel specialists did not focus on this and only warned that the installation of old cooling systems will require a change in the mount. Cooling system manufacturers have tested and noted the reduced efficiency of existing coolers and LSS.

It turns out that due to the reduced socket height, the actual cooling suffers from insufficient clamping force. As a result, there is poor contact between the heat-removing surface and the processor. MSI specialists are already working on this and have even released a special line of LSS with the “correct” water block height.

The AM2 socket replaced Socket 939 and continued the proliferation of multi-core processors in the 2006 consumer market. The new socket features support for DDR2 RAM and is a kind of response to Intel’s LGA775. Later, the connector was “upgraded” to AM2 + and began to support quad-core processors. True, nothing has changed mechanically – the manufacturer only added support for new generation processors, which, moreover, turned out to be backward compatible with the original AM2 .

In 2009, the AM3 connector appeared – almost AM2, but with one extra contact. Outwardly, they do not differ, although they are not backward compatible. The new socket brings support for DDR3 and six-core Phenom processors. Later, the manufacturer rolled out the already traditional “plus” – AM3 +. It has support for new generations of processors, although the mechanical characteristics of the connector remain the same. On some motherboards, sockets AM3 turns to AM3 + after BIOS update.

Furthermore interesting. AMD has developed on-chip GPUs and has split platforms into two areas. The FM series sockets evolved in parallel with AM3 + until 2016, when the company introduced the legendary AM4 and Ryzen processors.

In general, the AM and FM series sockets are synonymous with stability – this is easy to explain. All of the above connectors have a fixed hole spacing for cooling installation equal to

True, the versatility lies not in the size, but in the type of fastening – these sockets have a universal frame that clamps the heatsink in the socket. This frame was installed on all motherboards and was modified only on platforms with an AM4 connector.

AM4 – a new legend
The new connector appeared five years after the release of AM3 +. The socket marked the beginning of a new era in the processor market. First, it is the first AMD platform to support DDR4. Second, the AM4 supports Ryzen – processors that have revolutionized the user’s perception of “available performance.” For a much lower cost, chips of this series offered 6 or 8 cores at once with support for Hyper Threading, while Intel continued to develop 4 cores of “premium” cost.

Socket AM4 has been a relevant platform for more than five years and has managed to acquire support for five generations of processors. No hardware modifications and “pluses” – only new chipsets and BIOS firmware. The magic of this connector is so strong that even three-year-old motherboards are still “in the loop” and even work with Ryzen 5000 after some simple manipulations.

True, one drawback in the new platform was still found – due to the new socket dimensions, AMD engineers revised the space around the socket and moved the mounting holes for mounting the CO. Now the distance between the cooling posts is 90×54 mm, and a new frame for boxed coolers is also used.

However, the magic company AMD has left a loophole for backward compatibility here as well. Some motherboards have offset holes, so they support models designed for AM3 systems (that is, for all other sockets of the company). For example, the ROG CROSSHAIR VI HERO motherboard has such capabilities.

A separate backbone of Intel platforms is the LGA1356, LGA2011 and LGA2066 sockets. These connectors represent a unique segment of HEDT processors. As a rule, processors of this level are distinguished by increased dimensions, therefore, they are suitable for installation only in sockets of the corresponding size. Hence the increased distance between the holes – for all Intel HEDT sockets it is 80 × 80 mm.

AMD HEDT processors are even larger, so TR4 and TRX4 sockets also do not allow for retention systems for conventional platforms. Moreover, due to the size of the socket and the dense layout of the connectors for installing memory modules, the manufacturer had to use the very base of the socket as a base plate.

Therefore, the upper holes for installing CO are displaced to the middle, and the lower ones, on the contrary, are spaced. Not all models of cooling systems on the market support these platforms – as a rule, these are only flagship solutions marked “TR4” in the name.

When assembling a computer, it is necessary to pay attention not only to the performance indicators of the cooling system, but also to its design. For example, as mentioned earlier, you shouldn’t expect that the good old cooler from the LGA1151 era will work equally well with the new Alder Lake processors. AMD Ryzen owners know about a similar problem firsthand – Zen chips have a small area, which negatively affects the quality of heat dissipation. For this reason, users had to change the shape of the heat-absorbing sole, displace it in the plane of the socket, and even use an LSS with an increased heat transfer rate.

The material lists only the main platforms that were widely popular in relatively modern assemblies. Nevertheless, there are (have been) many more systems on the market with specific sockets and processors that are rarely found in home systems – for example, these are server processors and sockets. For them, there is also a separate category of cooling systems and this must be taken into account.