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Here’s why your old CPU cooler won’t work with next-gen Intel processors

Leaked plans for Intel’s upcoming LGA1700 socket show a radical departure from the design the company has used for the past several generations. The new V0 socket design isn’t compatible with currently available CPU coolers, even with a bracket.

The V0 socket will replace the H5 socket Intel is currently using for Rocket Lake processors. Although the pin layout usually changes between generations — LGA1151 to LGA1200, and so on — Intel has stuck with a familiar design for the socket itself. That has allowed CPU cooler manufacturers to offer the same mounting solution for Intel processors for over a decade.

Igor's Lab

The new V0 socket changes that. Leaked documents from Igor’s Lab show that socket V0 will have different CPU cooler mounting locations, as well as a slimmed-down footprint on the motherboard. The distance between each of the mounting pins is a few millimeters wider on socket V0, making it impossible to adapt an existing cooler to fit.

Socket V0 is also slimmer. With a CPU installed, the current socket H5 has a height of just over 8mm. On socket V0, that height shrinks to 7.5mm. It may not seem like much, but half a millimeter makes all the difference when it comes to mounting a CPU cooler.

Intel’s upcoming Alder Lake-S processors will be the first to use the V0 socket, based on the LGA1700 pin layout. In addition to the socket, Igor’s Lab also revealed that Alder Lake chips are “strongly rectangular” instead of square. It also confirmed that at least some Alder Lake processors will come with a boxed CPU cooler,  which, like any other cooler, isn’t compatible with the older H-series design.

Alder Lake marks a large shift for Intel. These next-gen chips ditch the familiar 14nm process that Intel has used for close to seven years, and they spearhead Intel’s venture into 10nm. Intel is able to achieve the shrink by combining “big” and “little” cores for different tasks, which is a design many mobile processors use. This redesign is also helping push Intel to core counts it has never reached on consumer processors.

AMD is also reportedly updating its CPU socket for next-gen chips. Unlike Intel, though, AMD’s update won’t change the size of the socket itself, so it should be compatible with currently available coolers.

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Jacob Roach
Senior Staff Writer, Computing
Jacob Roach is a writer covering computing and gaming at Digital Trends. After realizing Crysis wouldn't run on a laptop, he…
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