Some Intel Alder Lake CPUs could benefit from smartly orientating your cooler

A picture from a thermal imaging camera of two Alder Lake processors dies
(Image credit: MSI)

As we get closer to the launch of Intel's 12th Gen processors interesting new information is coming to light. A recent MSI Insider livestream contained a few interesting tidbits regarding the existence of at least two different Alder Lake-S dies, as well as a potential issue that may arise when 12th Gen CPUs are cooled with certain heat pipe coolers.

The first wave of 12th Generation CPUs, all of which are high-end, unlocked ‘K’ SKU’s, also all contain Gracemont Efficient Cores. However, it appears as though there will be a different die configuration for processors that lack these E-Cores. 

This alternative die will likely appear in future i3 or i5 based models. Something like a six-core/12-thread P-Core only i5 could turn out to be quite the budget gaming CPU. It’s also possible that this die could be harvested to produce quad or even dual core variants.

MSI goes on to claim that these different die configurations have different hotspots (via Hardware Info). The elongated die and transistor density combined with the P-Core concentration could create issues for certain heat pipe coolers, as illustrated by the image from MSI below.

As you can see, some coolers with gaps between the heat pipes might not be optimal, as the supposedly power-hungry P-cores may not have direct contact. This shouldn’t be an issue with most coolers, but certainly could be with cheaper or older chillers, at least those that have LGA 1700 mounting kits. Air cooling users might want to pay attention to the orientation of their cooler, too.

It’s unlikely this will be an issue for users with AIO coolers, though, which tend to feature a larger baseplate.

(Image credit: MSI)

Time (and user reports) will tell as to whether air coolers have issues or not. We’d hope that cooling manufacturers have long since worked around any intricacies that 12th Generation CPUs may have.

Chris Szewczyk
Hardware Writer

Chris' gaming experiences go back to the mid-nineties when he conned his parents into buying an 'educational PC' that was conveniently overpowered to play Doom and Tie Fighter. He developed a love of extreme overclocking that destroyed his savings despite the cheaper hardware on offer via his job at a PC store. To afford more LN2 he began moonlighting as a reviewer for VR-Zone before jumping the fence to work for MSI Australia. Since then, he's gone back to journalism, enthusiastically reviewing the latest and greatest components for PC & Tech Authority, PC Powerplay and currently Australian Personal Computer magazine and PC Gamer. Chris still puts far too many hours into Borderlands 3, always striving to become a more efficient killer.