Ever since their launch last year, AMD’s Threadripper CPUs have been the center of many discussions and debates. Due to their unique design – both physically and architecturally – cooling requirements and efficiency are some of the major discussion topics. All of the Threadripper models have significant power and cooling requirements, with AMD recommending liquid cooling right off the bat. However, the actual thermal design power (TDP) specifications are not that high, suggesting that a good air-based cooler could easily cope with the thermal load. And here is where things are getting complicated.

Threadripper processors step quite far outside typical CPU designs in several ways, one of which is their relatively massive physical size. The CPU’s surface area is much greater than that of all consumer CPUs before them, including Intel's LGA 20xx sockets. This sizable design choice is not because AMD couldn't squeeze the CPU dies physically closer, but because Threadripper's size is the minimum size that their engineers calculated to be effective for both the mechanical strength of the package and for sufficient heat dissipation. When Threadripper was announced, nearly all cooler manufacturers rushed to provide adapters for their products to be mounted on Threadripper processors. AMD themselves include an adapter for Asetek-based liquid coolers inside the package of the Threadripper processors. User experiences with such adapters, including our own, were less that ideal. So today we're going to take a look at why AMD's thermal requirements are so exaggerated and showcase why adapters are not effective.

AMD Threadripper Coolers: Almost the Same, But Not Quite

Most available coolers were designed with the previous generation processors in mind, and their contact surface is significantly smaller than the CPU’s surface area. Many manufacturers rushed to offer adapters for their products to be mounted on Threadripper (socket TR4) processors and several posted/presented simple mods that convert AM4-compatible coolers to fit as well. Using socket adapters and mounting typical coolers on Threadripper processor does work, but they are only partially covering the CPU’s surface area. 

Left - Noctua NH-U14S with AM4-UxS mounting braces, Right - Noctua NH-U14S TR4-SP3

There have been many debates whether the same exact cooler but with a proper contact surface would have better thermal conductance. According to basic thermal engineering theory, the cooler whose base covers more of a processor's lid should perform better. In the following pages we examine the theoretical aspect of this supposition and follow up with an experimental case study.

Thermal Conductance 101
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  • iter - Friday, March 16, 2018 - link

    Oh you are sorry for me, are you? Well that sure makes you better LOL. My life rocks because there are no spineless, fake people in it. Being a true human is a deterrent for folk like you, and that is a great thing I wouldn't change for the world, as people like you are mediocre, utterly boring and of no value whatsoever, and only fit in one place - circle jerks of similar individuals. So better save your sorry for your own sorry self. Now go find another mindless drone like you to pat eachother on the backs to create the illusion of self-worth you so desperately need. Maybe talk about gender self-identification and whatnot...
  • Jedi2155 - Friday, March 16, 2018 - link

    While you my have no fake people in your life I'm going to go out on a limb and say your circle of trusted individuals is quite small. It seems you may be limiting yourself on what you're willing to understand and respect on the basis of feeling superior to others.
  • bobcov - Friday, April 6, 2018 - link

    LostWander has a point which you have quite strongly validated through the wording of your post. His advice has merit.
  • Arbie - Saturday, March 17, 2018 - link

    Iter, did you forget your WccfTech password? That's the right place to warp general commentary into a personal attack chain.
  • linuxgeex - Monday, March 19, 2018 - link

    Agree. It's obvious to anyone that a CPU cooler only works when it's attached to the CPU. A cooler that is attached only to a portion of the CPU is intuitively only cooling the portion it is attached to.

    The article could have just said that. Instead they went so deep-dive on it that honestly it felt patronizing, and that's why I agree with your response. This article is completely over-written, one might even go so far as to characterize it as self-satisfied smart-ass rant... and don't get me wrong on that... some people actually enjoy participating in reading someone else's self-glorification, and have such small egos that they don't mind their time being wasted in the process, lol.

    As for the "hate" LostWander is speaking of, that was in s/he/it's own mind. LostWander accuses you of hate only because they don't hear the sarcasm you are directing at the Engineers who suggested building and marketing the adapter which this article reveals to be so ineffective. Those individuals deserve your wry comments because they were fully aware of the shizzle they were encouraging consumers to purchase.

    Instead, Lostwander is so defensive that s/he/it assumed that any negativity must be directed toward themself personally and so they jumped in to defend their ego by attacking you, and that is sad, especially given they believe they were delivering a message of acceptance.
  • eek2121 - Thursday, March 22, 2018 - link

    I wouldn't say that. Prime95 small-ffts load gives me 45.5C on my Enermax TR4 AIO. That's more than 'marginal'. Furthermore, if you overclock to 4.1 GHz, it is likely you'll find the Noctua unable to keep the CPU temp below 68C. My Enermax has no problems doing so.
  • romrunning - Wednesday, March 14, 2018 - link

    "AMD’s Threadripper processors certainly do not require liquid coolers to function properly at stock"

    Can we add the performance of a liquid cooler to the charts to see how the air TR-4 cooler performs against it?
  • eek2121 - Thursday, March 22, 2018 - link

    I can tell you significantly better then that noctua.
  • mrpiggy - Wednesday, March 14, 2018 - link

    'Cus it's all about that base, 'bout that base, no treble..
  • SaolDan - Wednesday, March 14, 2018 - link


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