How to destroy your CPU by lapping it

Of all the incredibly stupid things people do to their CPUs, including overclocking them until they are hot enough to melt steel, the single most imbecilic modification has to be lapping. Using absurdly skewed logic and completely unsupported data, lappers believe that by physically grinding down the surfaces of their CPUs to make them flatter and gain better contact with the similarly lapped surfaces of their heatsink fan cooler assembly they will lower their operating temperatures up to 20 degrees C.

The miraculous advantages of lapping are evangelized by the same sort of online loonies who believe that Microsoft and AOL are giving away merchandise and cash just for forwarding an email message, three triangulated cell phones can pop popcorn kernels, and that Barack Obama was sworn into his Senatorial office with his hand on the Koran.

CPU Lapping is a destructive process that is claimed to drop operating temperatures when all it does is drop your IQ!
CPU Lapping is a destructive process that is claimed to drop operating temperatures when all it does is drop your IQ!

The process of lapping involves grinding down the top surface of your new CPU with 300 grit sandpaper, which is repeatedly soaked in soapy water. That is about as close as I can imagine to having a perfect formula to irrevocably destroy a computer processor. If the constant static electricity buildup of repeatedly rubbing a CPU with an abrasive is not enough, and even if you can make sure that all the little metal shavings don't migrate to the underside of the processor to short it out, exactly who told you that soapy water and silicon processors mix?

Lapping is supposed to be complete when the silvery surface coating of the CPU is all gone and it reveals the coppery colored core material. Of course this assumes that the CPU manufacturers have invested countless billions of dollars into Research & Development just to coat their processors with a completely useless if not wholly counterproductive metal coating! If anyone wanted to pit the indepth knowledge and understanding of CPU heat transfer technology, I'd always put my money on some socially handicapped zit-faced 13 year old kid in his parents' basement than I will on the entire engineering staff of Intel! NOT!

The lapping is not only restricted to CPUs. Lapping enthusiasts just love to grind down the surfaces on aftermarket third party CPU air coolers, some of which retail for over $100! The lapping lunatics forums are full of descriptions of how to take the mating surface of an expensive air cooler all the way down to the metal substrate!

Lapping not only immediately voids your warranty and prevents any RMA returns but does absolutely nothing at all other than create insane illusions in the minds of lappers who like to boast that they got a mirror finish on their copper IHS and now have dropped their overclock load temperatures into Arctic territory. The bottom line is that no CPU nor HSF ever require lapping and just judicious application of a proper thermal grease is more than enough to ensure proper mating and heat transfer.

If you are ever tempted to lap your CPU do this instead: stand on polyester carpeting with your socks while you press your CPU onto the 3500 rpm spinning gray 60 grit wheel of a nice Black & Decker BT3500 bench grinder. Keep going until the static tingle in your fingers turns into sharp shocks and the IHS is ground down to where the actual circuitry is visible. Now your CPU will work perfectly. If you'll believe that, you'll also believe that Microsoft Bob was the best Operating System in history, Enron stock was a profitable investment, and Hancock was a great superhero movie.


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Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Hi John Lacey.

Thanks for your comment!

1. I think that when we analyze this statement in depth, we find that it's not necessarily the case. If anything, the cost of adding metal to the IHS is an extra expense and eliminating it is going to be cheaper. Although I'm not privy to Intel's private engineering reports on IHSs, it would seem that the secondary heat spreader needs to work in conjunction with the primary unit (copper) in order to dissipate heat more effectively. I trust that the additional metal on the IHS is also there to add structural integrity and to prevent the CPU from being damaged in puncture incidents, etc. We also need to consider the corrosion issue with exposed copper. We've all seen green corroding copper and that is not exactly my idea of a great CPU facing material. Regardless, the cost of that much metal on a CPU is so minimal that it really shouldn't affect the bottom line costs.

2. I most certainly don't buy the vroom vroom factor. Intel has been pulling out every engineering trick possible to get their CPU speeds up and if it was so simple that just yanking off a metal cover would do the trick, they would have resorted to that already. Besides, with CPU binning, there is a natural adjustment of speeds across a processor family so that the overall curve of slow to fast is relatively stable.

I think when we consider the entire situation from scratch, I would put the highest merit on secondary heat spreading and prevention of copper corrosion as the main reasons why IHS technology is implemented as it is.

John Lacey 7 years ago

Hi Hal! I have a few things maybe why intel doesn't lap their CPUs.

1. It would make the CPUs cost more, not by a lot, but it would still be an increase.

2. Not saying that it does, but lets say lapping works. So say I lap my CPU, and the temp. drops by 6 C. Now, lets say I overclock my CPU. it used to be stable @ 3.0 Ghz. But now, since it runs cooler, It can run @ 3.4 Ghz stable. Buying from Intel, an increase from 3.0 to 3.4 could cost 20 - 50 more dollars. So if Intel lapped their CPUs, they would sell less of their high end CPU, because people could just buy a lesser model, but till get high speeds.

Thanks just why I think maybe Intel doesn't lap their CPUs. What do you think about what I said?

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Sir, LAPPERS ARE MORONS. That's the end of the discussion. Unlike you, I don't use the R word as it is derogatory and offensive... just like lappers.

Hal is a retard 7 years ago

Still lapping up the attention and hits i see.

You really should give it up and come clean that you where wrong and move on to the next attention seeking post.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Does it void your warranty? Yes. That means the manufacturers with their thousands of degreed engineers know it damages their product. That makes it idiotic. Now shut up. :P

Overclocker 7 years ago

You really just have no clue. Lapping is a proven method of improving the thermal transfer from CPU to heatsink. This is coming from 8 years in microchip design, and a Doctorate in Electrical Engineering. You are welcome to disagrea, as long as you have a degree in the field, and have worked in the field before.

And yeah, I come from OCN. I'm proud of it. I wasn't one of the people that flamed you for posting this hit, but if I was there, I would have.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

OCN? Sheesh! Figures you'd be from that clan of dodos... just another waste of protoplasm. :P

BlackOmega from OCN 7 years ago

Intel and AMD did not invest BILLIONS of dollars in R&D of the IHS (integrated heat sink).

Its obvious from your article that you have never lapped anything. So you dont really have a leg to stand on in my opinion. And if anyone used 300 grit sandpaper to lap anything, then they're a fool and obviously didn't research lapping AT ALL. Which it seems that you have done. Or rather, failed to do.

You're giving half of the information about lapping to anyone reading your article. And NOWEHERE does it say to SOAK your CPU in soapy water. So upon further reading your article, it seems to me that you're an imbecile. That you simply can not follow even the most rudimentory instruction.

And by sanding down the IHS, PLEASE DO TELL HOW THIS DESTROYS CPUS? You're sanding a coated piece of copper. So, this makes the CPU inoperable how exactly? Oh, thats right, it doesn't. Because you sir FAIL. Please don't comment on things which you OBVIOUSLY have no knowledge.

Good day to you sir.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Glad we're amusing you. And no, I'm not lapping anything. Thank you. :)

Zeno 7 years ago

This whole blog is just one big LOL.

Firstly, just because it voids the warranty, does not mean it's destructive and dangerous. What about opening up a playstation 2 to manually clean the laser or adjust the pots to give an old laser a bit more power? Both void your warranty immediately because the sticker on the case gets broken. What about putting aftermarket coolers on video cards? Many graphics card manufacturers will declare this as a void of warranty, and even with manufacturers that don't, you often need to reattach the stock cooler to be able to send it back.

You should note two points.

1. The IHS has the CPU's serial number and identification info on it. This tells Inte/AMD what model it is, when it was produced, it's stepping revision etc. This is as important to them as a receipt. Without it, they have no idea what CPU they're actually looking at.

2. The IHS is there to dissapate heat across the entire surface area, and importantly acts to protect the cores during the process of equipping a cooler on top. BUT, the thermal transfer between it and the cooler is LESS effective than cooler straight to the copper shell beneath. Copper is a better heat conductor, and you also have to realise there are now less metal-metal junctions in the entire setup. Instead of cores-copper-IHS coating-cooler you just have cores-copper-cooler (simplified obviously). There is also a decrease in the distance between the cores and the coolers heat dissapating surface. Because of this, thermal transfer is now more efficient. Whether or not the IHS is a more efficient heat transfer material is irrelevant, as even if it is there the copper would now be the limiting factor and thus the IHS wouldn't increase thermal transfer, being there or not.

In short, the IHS is there for identification purposes and for protection of the cores. Removal of it wont destroy the CPU, and will increase the efficiency of thermal transfer to a cooler. Of course AMD and Intel are not going to condone it, as it removes identification info, similar to scratching a VIN number off a car; removes some of the IHS there for safety purposes (increasing susceptibility to damage by being crushed, whacked etc); and can result in damage to the CPU in the lapping process due to human error. Does this mean it WILL destroy your CPU and is detrimental? Absolutely not.

Email intel or amd and ask them, aside from the fact that it voids your warranty and can be dangerous, should lapping off the IHS to reveal the copper and produce a more flat surface result in more efficient thermal transfer? Don't expect them to email you first, dont expect them to change their warranties (waiting for this as proof of lapping not being the most idiotic thing you can do to your CPU is as probably the most naive thought in this entire blog) and dont expect hundreds of people who have done it and attained good temperature drops to just appease to you. Go buy a cheap CPU, put it in a cheap system, lapp it and the cooler and post results. If you kill your CPU, it's because you're incompetent, unlucky or a mix of both.

Finally, no i have not lapped my CPU (yet)

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Admit I'm wrong? About lapping? I'll be glad to do so. Exactly one minute after Intel and AMD change their warranties so that they are not immediately voided by the act. Since that will be never, I will always firmly adhere to the belief that:

Lapper = Moron

Lapper = Moron

Lapper = Moron

Lapper = Moron

Lapper = Moron

Starting to get the picture?

SN 7 years ago

"My momma always told me that if you know you're right, never back down from a fight! Bring it on! :)"

This is the mentality of a stubborn ignoramus, your momma shouldn't have given you this advice, i feel sorry for you - please just admit you're wrong.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Lapper = Moron.

End of conversation.

Onegin 7 years ago

No, Hal, I'm just saying I'd rather get hair advice from Phil Spector than get tech advice from someone who looks like they're too busy acquring metabolic disorder to form coherent thoughts.

I could smash my CPU with a hammer and still present a more logical argument than you. I also am enamored with this gem: "Are you a total moron, or do you truly do lap?" Have you ever written anything above a 3rd grade level? I have never lapped a CPU, but I may just stand next to you for a while and win a Nobel Prize by comparison.

In summation, you fail at life. Enjoy living out your days alone, hurtling insults at things you possibly couldn't understand in your lifetime.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

What, according to you I'm supposed to have to have dogs, drive a VW Beetle and eat shrimp? Are you a total moron, or do you truly do lap? Er... yeah... I guess I answered my own question.


Onegin 7 years ago

Read this aloud:

"He lives for cats, pasta and motorcycles."

Pulled straight from Hal's HubPages profile. I'm just amazed so many of you are taking him seriously. This isn't the first time someone has posted something on the Internet to get a rise out of people.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Simple, dude.

Read and learn:

If you think I was adamant about LAPPERS BEING MORONS before, just imagine how I want to shout from the skyscrapers about them now! :)

Taviyo 7 years ago


Whether or not lapping is advantageous, why are you so emotionally invested in going so over-the-top in your self-righteous display of how it is not? You buddy, are ludicrous.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Thousands of instances by who? Anonymous geeks on internet forums! Wow! Now that's really hard proof. By that logic I can show you thousands of instances that prove that THE EARTH IS FLAT, MORON! SHOW ME SCIENTIFIC PEER REVIEWED PUBLISHED PROOF IN A MAJOR JOURNAL or return back to the fantasy wanker land where all lappers live. LAPPERS ARE MORONS, and you, my dear friend, are proving that with every word! :)

hal is a moron 7 years ago

thousands of instances prove you wrong. google it up. see it for yourself. only then speak up. otherwise you're acting stupid. you obviously have no idea about what you're trolling about. SHUT UP. now bane me, moron :)

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