Intel has as yet to offer a full explanation as to why it changed the way its interfacing the IHS with the CPU die on its Ivy Bridge processors and previous reports weren't clear on how much of an effect Intel's move to using thermal grease had on the actual cooling performance. Thankfully Japanese website Impress PC Watch has come to the rescues and done some testing by itself and the publication has clearly proven that Intel's thermal interface material isn't up to scratch.
First of all, we wouldn't recommend anyone to tear off the integrated heat spreader on their CPU, as for one it voids your warranty and moreover you might actually damage your CPU. That said, Impress PC Watch tore off the IHS on a Core i7-3770K, wiped off the Intel thermal grease and then replaced it with OCZ's Freeze Extreme and Coollaboratory's Liquid Pro to see how much of a difference a change of thermal interface material would make.
Coollaboratory claims that its Liquid Pro TIM offers 82W/mk of thermal conductivity and hitting up some reviews it seems to be superior to OCZ's Freeze Extreme, something the Impress PC Watch test also showed. However, both materials were vastly superior to whatever gunk Intel sticks inside its CPU's, as at the standard 3.5GHz clock speed the temperature was reduced by 8 degrees C using the Freeze Extreme and 11 degrees C with the Liquid Pro
Move up to an average overclock of 4.6GHz and the difference is even bigger with 15 degrees for the Freezer Pro and a massive 20 degrees difference using the Liquid Pro. On top of all that, higher stable overclocking speeds without thermal throttling were reached at lower Voltages using either of the replacement TIMs, although once again the best results were achieved using the Liquid Pro which allowed a stable 5GHz overclock on air at 1.55V. We should mention that the rather large and expensive Thermalright Silver Arrow SB-E CPU cooler was used for these tests, so mileage might vary depending on cooler choice, but even so, the results speak for themselves.
If anything, this is an issue that Intel shouldn't be having, as it's not as if we're talking about low-cost Celeron or Pentium models here, but rather premium models with overclocking enabled. We can only hope that Intel will consider changing its thermal grease for something a little bit more advanced on the K-series CPUs, as the company can't expect users to replace it by themselves and thus voiding their warranties. It's also quite embarrassing that such a small cost is what's holding these new CPUs back, but as has been suggested elsewhere, this might be part of Intel's plan so it can flog some more Sandy Bridge-E CPUs.
Original Source: http://pc.watch.impress.co.jp/docs/column/sebuncha/20120511_532119.html