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Copper Shims

Company: CPUFX
Mesa III & DTS-400 Copper Shims
Street Price: Mesa III - $6 & DTS-400 - $10
Date Reviewed: February 13, 2001
Reviewed By: Jason Rabel


The Copper Shim Sham:

After reading various reviews of copper shims with reviewers praising them saying they were the finest thing since sliced bread, but surfing through various forums I found the darker side of the truth. Many people have complained that the Mesa III & DTS-400 copper shims killed their CPU's for one reason or another. So I decided to take it upon myself to order a couple and see what all the fuss was about.


Where You Can Find Them:

I ordered the Mesa III & DTS-400 from Overclockers Hideout, unfortunately the only shipping options they had were UPS which doesn't make sense for a pair of items that could of just been shipped in a padded envelope in the regular mail at a fraction of the cost. These shims are actually made by CPUFX.com and if you look carefully you will find that the two store sites are identical in the products they sell, even the same store front package, just a different name. (Makes you wonder)


What's The Fuss?

The two shims are mass produces, and at first glance seem to be very well made.

Here's a quote from CPUFX's web site about the Mesa III: Made from a stamped coil of high-grade copper alloy and stamped 2X for uniformity. The Mesa III will provide a perfect platform to ensure your CPU core will not get broken or cracked by any application you might decide on. 

Here is a quote on the DTS-400: T-Bird and Duron Spacer for added stability with current and past heat sinks. We have all heard the horror stories about cracked cores on new CPUs. This will stop that.

Uh huh... So they are claiming that your CPU won't get broken or cracked from these shims. One thing that must be noted is that these shims must be produced within a very small tolerance. Too thick and your CPU core will burn up because the heatsink won't make contact, too thin and the shim is pointless and will slide around. Do these two shims meet the specs?

Below is an example of the DTS-400 on my Duron CPU. Wanting to see where the shim actually made contact with the heatsink, I coated it in plain old thermal grease. The "smudgy" parts on the shim are where it actually made contact with the heatsink. However you will notice many areas where the heatsink didn't make contact (where you see the "wavy" rows of compound). I did make double sure before I turned my computer on that the core was making good contact with the heatsink, and you can also tell from the picture that it was. No, I didn't experience any temperature difference using this shim either.

The Mesa III is a whole different story. The picture below was a little hard to take holding a heatsink with the CPU at just the right angle behind a bright light. You can clearly see that the copper shim doesn't even come close to the height of the core on my FCPGA P3. The copper shim actually would slide around when I had a heatsink mounted on the CPU (in my slotket). That alone scared me enough to not even plug this in my computer. I also tried the shim out on my Slot-1 P3 with the same sad results.



A total waste of $20+ on a pair of useless copper shims. The Mesa-III was obviously way out of tolerance and wouldn't protect jack squat from being broken. The DTS-400, while it was closer to the proper thickness, it still wasn't a uniform thickness which is what scares me. I have read many stories in various forums where these copper shims were too thick and because of that the CPU wasn't making good contact with the heatsink, and the core fried.

Intel CPUs are pretty hard to crack, and even if you do chip off a little bit of a corner, chances are it will still run just fine. AMD CPUs on the other hand are more fragile, but that is why they have the cushioned feet on there. I've gone through a dozen different heatsinks with no problems on my Duron and it doesn't even have a scratch on it. I admit that some heatsinks seem like they apply excessive pressure, but if you mount the heatsink flat and don't rock it back and forth when trying to get the clip on, everything will be okay.

I do remember someone selling handmade shims a while back , which I'm sure he test-fitted and sanded down to the proper thickness. That is the difference in quality you will get between a custom hand made shim, and something that is mass produced.

If you want to play it safe, just stay away from these shims. They aren't necessary as long as you exercise a little caution when mounting your heatsink.


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