The Vise Method: Step by Step

Tools Required

To remove the heat spreader from the CPU PCB, you will need a few tools that are common to most home work benches or can be easily obtained from your local Lowe's or Home Depot store.

  • a rubber mallet
  • a wooden 2 x 4 cut to a 6 inch length
  • a bench vise
  • electrical tape and/or duct tape
  • paper or cotton towels

Process and Procedure

The vise method definitely sounds like the more error prone approach out of the two methods discussed, but is actually much easier and safer than the razor blade method because of the reasons discussed. The key is to set aside time to do it and take your time through the process. This also means check, double check, and triple check everything before plunging in because a mistake in the process could cost you significant money.

First step is prepping the vise. You want to put one or more layers of electrical tape or duct Tape on both arms of the vise to better grip the CPU heat spreader as well as to offer some protection for the CPU. Then you want to line your bench and all around the vise with several layers of towels just in case the the CPU PCB goes flying during the process. The CPU die wouldn't like contacting a hard surface, just trust me on this one.

Next, you want to very carefully place your CPU in the vise and tighten until it is secure. Not too much though because you want to hold fast the heat spreader only, not crush it. Basically, you put the CPU in heat spreader down and lock it in so that the vise arms grid the heat spreader by the top portion of the spreader, gripping the vertical portion above the step in the spreader to keep the vice surface from directly contacting the CPU PCB surface. Make sure to place the CPU in the vice so that the sides of the spreader with the hold down "arms" are not gripped. This orientation is essential so that you don't risk banging the heat spreader into the circuitry along the sides of the CPU die.

Once the CPU is secured in the vise, place the wood block on the edge of the CPU PCB as shown holding it in place with your secondary hand. Then, gently tap the block several times into the CPU PCB until you feel the PCB begin to slide. At that point, you have delidded you CPU. Remove the block and carefully remove the CPU PCB from the vise.

If everything went according to plan, you should end up with the CPU in two parts – the CPU PCB and the heat spreader as shown in the picture. You will immediately notice the sub-par TIM on your 4770K Haswell also. The TIM can be carefully removed from the CPU die and the heat spreader using some Q-Tips and high-grade alcohol. Then you can hit it with contact cleaner to remove the left over TIM residue. You don't have to remove the RTV residue from the CPU PCB surface (the black goo around the outer edge of the PCB), but it can be removed by carefully scraping it off with a razor blade, alcohol or contact cleaner, and some elbow grease.

Once all cleaned up, the underside of your heat spreader and the CPU PCB should look something like the one pictured above, minus the die cracks. Cracking the die is one potential hazard of delidding the CPU, but we will go into exactly how that happened shortly. The actual vise-method delidding process did not cause that though, rest assured.

« PreviousNext »