The Raptor Pit: LAPPING A HEATSINK & CPU - What, Why and How - The Raptor Pit

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LAPPING A HEATSINK & CPU - What, Why and How

#1 User is offline   hokiealumnus 

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Posted 10 January 2008 - 10:46 PM

Hello everyone! It's me again with another (hopefully!) helpful guide.

Here's the situation: You've overclocked your rig and you're quite happy with where you are. Unfortunately, like any OC'er, you just can't help yourself and want to squeeze that extra few MHz out of your CPU...but your temps are RIGHT on the border of where you want them. What to do?

LAP!

Lap - To polish (a surface) until smooth. <courtsey American Heritage Dictionary>

In our case, lapping means sanding the base of a heatsink and/or IHS (Integrated Heat Spreader) of a CPU to make it as perfectly flat as possible.

Why would you want to do this?

Any given heatsink or CPU will have some part of its surface that isn't flat. It will either be convex or concave...and not necessarily right in the middle! It's just a property of the manufacturing process having to churn out high numbers to maintain profitability; they don't have the time to ensure every single part is perfectly flat before it leaves the factory.

This isn't to fault the manufacturers; it's normally not necessary except in cases like ours. You probably could fault the aftermarket heatsink makers as they should make theirs flat, but the CPUs aren't necessarily supposed to do what we do with them.

Now what you actually came here for...How?

The lapping process is a slow one. Depending on how curved the surface you're working with is, it can be a VERY slow one. Patience is key. You don't want to rush this or you'll end up with a more crooked surface than you started with.

The materials you need are readily available at home and at an auto-parts store. You'll need wet/dry sandpaper, a pane of glass, a Sharpie, some duct tape and some water. (Did someone call MacGyver?)

I used 400 grit and 1500 grit sand paper. There are those that prefer to start at one and work their way up slowly (600 to 800 to 1200 to 1500 even to 2000)...I didn't see the need.

Find a surface to tape the pane of glass to. It should be flat itself and in a location where you'll be comfortable leaning / sitting / standing over for a little while. I happen to have a nice little workshop in my attic (thanks to my father-in-law's idea & help) and a stool that puts me in a comfy place. Here's the setup:



I was actually only going to lap my Big Typhoon to start with...but then I took it out of the case and saw this atrocity. Geez...could it get any less flat?!?



Anyway...here's the base of the heat sink after cleaning the TIM off it.



To lap a HS, because it's not electronic and for ease of sanding, you can use water to help make the process easier. This is why you get wet/dry sandpaper. I dipped the entire sheet in a container of water, placed it on the glass and taped each end down (making sure the sand paper is taut and flat on the glass).

Take your sharpie and put a big "X" on the bottom of it. This will help you monitor your progress along with see just how not-flat your HS is.

Place the heat sink on the sand paper and begin to run it down the length of the paper. Go slow; you don't want it to start "chattering" on you. Don't push down either, let the heat sink's weight and the sand paper do all of the work. Plus, if you push and don't apply even pressure, you'll sand it too much on one side/corner, thereby defeating the purpose.

Go down the length of the sand paper and back ten times. Then rotate the heatsink 90 degrees. Rinse & repeat, again and again.

Every now & then you can check your progress. This is after a relatively short period.



As you can see, it was very convex, but not in the middle...not even close, really. So, stick it back on the sand paper and continue on.

You'll develop quite a bit of material on the sand paper. You can use a paper towel to sop up the water and the metal will come with it. Just use your fingers and stick some drops of water back on the sand paper and continue on. You'll need to replace the sheet of sandpaper eventually; it's pretty obvious when it's not doing as much work as it was.

After a considerable amount of time, we're getting better.



I'll spare you further progress photos. This thing took about three hours, though I did take breaks in there. I'd say two and a half solid hours of actual sanding.

This is what it looked like after I got done with the 400 grit.



Then take your finer sandpaper to help remove the deeper gouges from the lower grit sandpaper. Since it is already flat, this goes much faster. Here's what it looked like finished it off with the 1500 grit.



That's it for the HS. As you may be able to tell, I didn't quite do a 100% thorough job. There was a corner that was at least a millimeter away from being flush with the rest of the base. Since that corner was nowhere near what would contact the CPU, I stopped. Three hours was enough. smile.gif

Now it's time for the CPU!
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#2 User is offline   hokiealumnus 

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Posted 10 January 2008 - 11:07 PM

Welcome back!

The CPU lap is very similar to the HS, but is much easier and you don't use water. As a disclaimer, note that lapping a CPU will definitely void your warranty.

Same setup. The glass is already duct-taped to the bench. Just take a sheet of sand paper (dry this time) and tape it down, keeping it taut and flat.

You should mark your CPU like you did the heat sink. Note it should be marked all the way to the edges, unlike what I did. You'll see why. Here it is when the process started.



Keep in mind when lapping the CPU that you only get one shot (well, you only get one shot with the HS, but that's generally not as expensive to replace). It's very important you let the sandpaper do all of the work for you. Resist any urge to press down! You want it flat, not sloped. Repeat the same 10 runs down the sandpaper and back, then rotate 90 degrees and repeat.

Here it is after a little bit of lapping.



Huh...it doesn't look that bad after all. This is where I started thinking it wasn't a good idea to void my warranty!

This is also why I said you should mark all the way to the edges. Check this one out after a little more lapping. Pay attention to the outer rim.



Turns out the CPU was concave. Continuing on, you begin to see a little more evidence of just how concave it was.



A couple more, just to show how it progressed.





Oh, so close!



Ahh...done getting it flat. Here is the result after flattening it with the 400 grit.



Again, taking the 1500 grit, we get rid of the deep gouges from the lower grit sandpaper and put a nice shine on there.




Well, that's it, you're all done! What did it cost? $10 worth of sand paper, several hours of work and a little duct tape and water.

What did it do for me? I saw about a 5-7c drop in temperatures under heavy stress. I'm also running at pretty modest voltages. When Folding@Home, I gained about 4c. It was enough to add .04v to my CPU and raise my OC by 100MHz, keeping the exact same temperatures smile.gif . Totally worth it IMO. Hope you enjoyed!
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#3 User is offline   el kido 

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Posted 11 January 2008 - 01:33 AM

So, I wana lap my apogee gt. its really shiny, but it doesnt mean its flat? right?

Lap it or dont?

oh yeah, I like the details
CPU---------------I7 2600k @ 4.5ghz daily
Case--------------Xigmatek Elysium
SSD----------------240GB Corsair Neutron GTX
GPU--------------Gigabyte GTX680 OC
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#4 User is offline   hokiealumnus 

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Posted 11 January 2008 - 11:53 AM

Shiny does not = flat, you're correct. You can use a straight-edge (a good one) or a razor to check flatness. Put it across the middle of the HS and shine a light behind it. If you see any light coming through, you know it's not flat. Then, rotate 90 degrees and do the same thing. If not flat, I say lap it. It's really up to you though. Like the CPU, lapping a HS will void its warranty.
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#5 User is offline   hokiealumnus 

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Posted 11 January 2008 - 12:02 PM

A question was posted in another thread by the kidd that is important to note here too, so here you go:

QUOTE(el kido @ Jan 11 2008, 02:30 AM) View Post
One thing I would like to see is speed of movement and number of times. Everytime I went to look at arcticles on how to, they just say move up down and rotate 90 degrees.

My main questions are, how fast do i move, how far up and down the sand paper do i go, how many slides. etc


Speed with the HS is determined by its reaction to your lapping. The "chattering" I mentioned (you'll know when it does it) is you're stopping point. If it chatters (basically, skips along the sandpaper instead of sliding on it like it should), you're going too fast.

The CPU I wouldn't go too fast, but it's definitely faster than the HS. Keep it reasonable though; don't go too fast. It's a (relatively) delicate piece of electronics. You probably don't want to go throwing it around the sand paper like a crazy person; you may accidentally shake something loose.

Number of times is up to the individual. Like I said, I did ten passes up and back down the entire length of the sandpaper (well, that which was on the glass), rotate 90 degrees and repeated.

How long? ...until it's flat of course! You'll only know when you do it. Not everything is equally convex/concave, so how long will be determined by how not-flat your piece of hardware is.
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#6 User is offline   cromelex 

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Posted 12 January 2008 - 09:23 AM

Questions, questions, questions.


Let's say you had a Heatpipe Direct Touch CPU cooler, such as an Ocz Vendetta (it's soo cheap, and coolers here are really expensive otherwise - I'm really thinking of getting one).

Would you lap it? And if so, how?


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#7 User is offline   chuck4456 

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Posted 12 January 2008 - 09:59 AM

My 2 cents.
I don't know anybody that's using those. I'm skeptical because of those mounting plate gaps. If it were me, I'd be looking at something else.
Even with the better heat distribution qualities of the new CPUs, I would still have my doubts.

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#8 User is offline   hokiealumnus 

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Posted 12 January 2008 - 02:12 PM

I have no idea what to tell you on that one cromlex, wish I did. I've actually never run across a HS without a single-surface base plate on it. I think the design could be better for heat transfer. Think about it...the core runs about where chuck applies his TIM (speaking of...chuck, you didn't vote for your choice!). If you mount it one way, it'll only be contacting one of the heatpipes. If you mount it the other, it'll maybe hit two total (one full & 1/2 of each of the other two). You're losing a lot of possible conductivity. Having a copper base that the heatpipes are soldered into seems like a better way to conduct the heat.

Also don't know about lapping that...unless one of the heatpipes don't touch the IHS or the aluminum sticks out preventing them from touching, I don't know what it'll do for you.

Anyway, that's my $.02. I think you may be better looking at an Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro even with the plastic push-pin mounts...they're only $20 here in the states, so I wouldn't imagine they'd be too crazy expensive down there.
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#9 User is offline   cromelex 

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Posted 12 January 2008 - 05:15 PM

Even with the many great reviews?

And I thought that Europe was supposed to be conservative xD (as opposed to USA)
I'll buy it. It will either work, and I'll laught at you, or it won't, and I'll lie and pretend to laugh at you.

http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/2007/12/23/ocz_vendetta/1 "Best Value"
http://www.dvhardware.net/review124_ocz_vendetta.html "8/10"
http://www.ocia.net/reviews/Vendetta "Seal of Approval"
http://www.anandtech.com/casecoolingpsus/showdoc.aspx?i=3113 "the OCZ Vendetta is a very good value in midrange cooling"
http://www.pro-clockers.com/review.php?id=295 "Recommended"
http://www.legitreviews.com/article/598/1/
http://www.overclock3d.net/reviews.php?/ca...ta_cpu_cooler/1 "Value For Money"
http://www.guru3d.com/article/ocz_vendetta_review/483/1 "Great Value"
http://www.cpu3d.com/index.php?option=com_...=52&limit=1 "Highly Recommended, 92%"
http://www.overclockersclub.com/reviews/ocz_vendetta_review/ "Gold Award"

Well, let's see things this way. It will either work properly, and I'll be satisfied or it won't work properly, but as there are so many great reviews I'll sell it for roughly the same amount it costed me.

I'll let you know. evileyes.gif

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#10 User is offline   chuck4456 

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Posted 12 January 2008 - 08:12 PM

A lot will have to do with how clean your mounting surface is, and your thermal paste application as well.
It's got those funky mounting pins, so make sure that they are all the way thru the board, and secure, before you stick it all in the case.
That's still a strange design, regardless of the reviews. IMO.

If they keep popping out new air coolers, it's going to get too confusing, and I'm going to just have to start using liquid cooling on all of my builds!!!
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#11 User is offline   cromelex 

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 06:19 AM

QUOTE(chuck4456 @ Jan 13 2008, 02:12 AM) View Post
A lot will have to do with how clean your mounting surface is, and your thermal paste application as well.
It's got those funky mounting pins, so make sure that they are all the way thru the board, and secure, before you stick it all in the case.
That's still a strange design, regardless of the reviews. IMO.

If they keep popping out new air coolers, it's going to get too confusing, and I'm going to just have to start using liquid cooling on all of my builds!!!

evileyes.gif

I would, it it wasn't so damn expensive. Liquid seems to be the way to go.
"The Steambox"
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Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit

"The Oldbox"
Q6600 cooled by Noctua NH-C12P :: abit IP35 :: GeIL Esoteria PC2-6400 2x2GB :: old stupid placeholder GPU :: 500GB Samsung Spinpoint F3 & 2x250GB Maxtor HDD's :: Creative SoundBlaster Live! 5.1 :: Powered by Corsair TX650 :: NZXT Whisper
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#12 User is offline   hokiealumnus 

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 10:57 AM

Crom: I had a look at one of the reviews. It looks to be a decent performer. The only thing that worries me is the mounting, but if you're willing to deal with it, more power to you.

My comment is more about lapping. From their photos it looks like the heatpipes stick out past the aluminium, which is probably what you want with that type of cooler. After thinking about it, I actually don't think you'll want to lap that one. Since it's the bare heatpipes there, if you lap them, you'll reduce the amount of material protecting the heatpipes. If you lap too far, you'll rupture them and end up loosing whatever volatile material they have in there to carry the heat up; then it'll be totally useless. I wouldn't recommend it; or would recommend being VERY mindful of keeping the walls of the heatpipes thick enough.
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#13 User is offline   cromelex 

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 04:54 PM

QUOTE(hokiealumnus @ Jan 13 2008, 04:57 PM) View Post
Crom: I had a look at one of the reviews. It looks to be a decent performer. The only thing that worries me is the mounting, but if you're willing to deal with it, more power to you.

My comment is more about lapping. From their photos it looks like the heatpipes stick out past the aluminium, which is probably what you want with that type of cooler. After thinking about it, I actually don't think you'll want to lap that one. Since it's the bare heatpipes there, if you lap them, you'll reduce the amount of material protecting the heatpipes. If you lap too far, you'll rupture them and end up loosing whatever volatile material they have in there to carry the heat up; then it'll be totally useless. I wouldn't recommend it; or would recommend being VERY mindful of keeping the walls of the heatpipes thick enough.


Thank you for the advice. I guess, no lapping then.
I might change the fan, though. I need a fan for my VGA cooler (bought if from someone else rather then a shop, and since it only fits the Geforce 8800 Ultra, GTX, GTS 640 and 320 [mine], it was really cheap, roughly 25€ with shipping, instead of 50€ without shipping) and so I might as well use the 92mm fan of the Vendetta on my graphics card and use this one on the CPU cooler: Silverstone FM-92 ( http://www.silverstonetek.com/products/p_s...92&area=usa )

By the way, the IP35-E has a nice control for the fans, doesn't it? As in allowing you to set RPM or % for the fans for a selected temperature?

^^

"The Steambox"
i5-2400 cooled by Xigmatek Loki SD963 HDT :: Asus P8P67-M Pro :: Crucial Ballistix Tactical DDR3 2x4GB 1600Mhz CL8:: Sapphire AMD Radeon HD 7770 1GB ("The Little GPU That Could") :: Crucial M500 240GB SDD :: 500GB Western Digital HDD :: Powered by Corsair VX550 :: Zalman T2 Mini
Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit

"The Oldbox"
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#14 User is offline   hokiealumnus 

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 06:59 PM

The -E controls the CPU & SYS fans only. The two AUX fan headers are read-only.
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#15 User is offline   el kido 

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 08:25 PM

hey hokie, Im gona use the Zalman STG1 stuff so if I make a "how to page" it wont be that explaining for users with AS5. So, I can do the one half with the Zalman stuff, then you can do the other with AS5? Is that Ok?
CPU---------------I7 2600k @ 4.5ghz daily
Case--------------Xigmatek Elysium
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GPU--------------Gigabyte GTX680 OC
PSU---------------Corsair AX750W
Motherboard-----EVGA P67 FTW
RAM--------------8GB G. Skill Ripjaw X DDR3 @ 2133
Sound Card------X-Fi Titanium
Cooling-----------EK Supremecey Nickel CSQ, XTX 360 Radiatior, MCP355 w/ Ek Top


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#16 User is offline   hokiealumnus 

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 08:27 PM

That's fine. I'm just going to be adding it to the aftermarket heatsink thread anyway so there is a photo to go with the text. I'm not doing a how to on it or anything.
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#17 User is offline   el kido 

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 11:45 PM

QUOTE(hokiealumnus @ Jan 13 2008, 06:27 PM) View Post
That's fine. I'm just going to be adding it to the aftermarket heatsink thread anyway so there is a photo to go with the text. I'm not doing a how to on it or anything.


I think ill have some extra time so i can write the full part. Im getting some parts in around wednesday. Purple coolant, black coils, tubing and that means I only have to take apart the pc once. Im gona lap it that day to, the CPU and Apogee. So I can waste some AS5 on a How to and clean it off.

hokie, have you tried the circular motion for the first grit? Thats what I did with my first lap, I used a Q6600 and lapped in a circular motion to get to the copper. Once I was at the copper I went up down every 90 degrees. Is that fine or should I stick to up down?
CPU---------------I7 2600k @ 4.5ghz daily
Case--------------Xigmatek Elysium
SSD----------------240GB Corsair Neutron GTX
GPU--------------Gigabyte GTX680 OC
PSU---------------Corsair AX750W
Motherboard-----EVGA P67 FTW
RAM--------------8GB G. Skill Ripjaw X DDR3 @ 2133
Sound Card------X-Fi Titanium
Cooling-----------EK Supremecey Nickel CSQ, XTX 360 Radiatior, MCP355 w/ Ek Top


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#18 User is offline   hokiealumnus 

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 12:04 AM

QUOTE(el kido @ Jan 14 2008, 12:45 AM) View Post
I think ill have some extra time so i can write the full part. Im getting some parts in around wednesday. Purple coolant, black coils, tubing and that means I only have to take apart the pc once. Im gona lap it that day to, the CPU and Apogee. So I can waste some AS5 on a How to and clean it off.

hokie, have you tried the circular motion for the first grit? Thats what I did with my first lap, I used a Q6600 and lapped in a circular motion to get to the copper. Once I was at the copper I went up down every 90 degrees. Is that fine or should I stick to up down?


It doesn't really matter. The important part is rotating it 90 degrees. Some people do figure 8's for a bit, rotate & repeat. As long as it's flat, whatever motion you prefer is good! dtup.gif
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#19 User is offline   MeltDown 

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 12:33 AM

QUOTE(el kido @ Jan 11 2008, 02:33 AM) View Post
So, I wana lap my apogee gt. its really shiny, but it doesnt mean its flat? right?

Lap it or dont?

oh yeah, I like the details

Have you checked it with a razor/precision straightedge as suggested? Many high end waterblocks come from the factory already lapped better than 99.99999% of people can do by hand. For example Swiftech says about the MCW60 (GPU block based on the Apogee - I couldn't find the data for the Apogee GT itself) "the base is lapped to 0.0003" (3/10 of 1/1000"), and polished to near-mirror finish to promote optimum thermal conductivity. Users are advised that while flatness is strictly respected for providing the most significant benefit to thermal interface, surface polish is a cosmetic component and may vary slightly from one heatsink to another. Re-lapping or polishing the copper base is never recommended."

Instead of lapping the waterblock, you might want to try this trick instead:
http://www.swiftech.com/products/apogee-tweaking.asp
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#20 User is offline   el kido 

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 12:48 AM

QUOTE(MeltDown @ Jan 13 2008, 10:33 PM) View Post
Have you checked it with a razor/precision straightedge as suggested? Many high end waterblocks come from the factory already lapped better than 99.99999% of people can do by hand. For example Swiftech says about the MCW60 (GPU block based on the Apogee - I couldn't find the data for the Apogee GT itself) "the base is lapped to 0.0003" (3/10 of 1/1000"), and polished to near-mirror finish to promote optimum thermal conductivity. Users are advised that while flatness is strictly respected for providing the most significant benefit to thermal interface, surface polish is a cosmetic component and may vary slightly from one heatsink to another. Re-lapping or polishing the copper base is never recommended."

Instead of lapping the waterblock, you might want to try this trick instead:
http://www.swiftech.com/products/apogee-tweaking.asp


I didnt have time to get in and check,. but I did read that they are already fine polished and i can make it worse by doing it myself. I never saw a real review that lapping the Apogee even helped.

But Ill give the Swiftech tip a try.
CPU---------------I7 2600k @ 4.5ghz daily
Case--------------Xigmatek Elysium
SSD----------------240GB Corsair Neutron GTX
GPU--------------Gigabyte GTX680 OC
PSU---------------Corsair AX750W
Motherboard-----EVGA P67 FTW
RAM--------------8GB G. Skill Ripjaw X DDR3 @ 2133
Sound Card------X-Fi Titanium
Cooling-----------EK Supremecey Nickel CSQ, XTX 360 Radiatior, MCP355 w/ Ek Top


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