CPU cooler upgrade for Dell G5 5000

One of my main PCs is a Dell G5 5000. I bought it several years ago because it was relatively inexpensive, I’ve had good luck with Dell workstations, and it had the powerful (for the time) i7-10700F processor with 8 cores, 2.9GHz base, 4.8GHz turbo, and a fairly efficient 65W TDP.

Unfortunately, Dell cheaped-out with the CPU cooling, topping the CPU with a small “pancake” cooler that lets the CPU run so hot that it thermally throttles under load. I needed a better solution, but Dell’s case and motherboard design are proprietary and won’t accept popular 3rd party coolers such as the Pure Rock Slim 2.

Dell VWD01 Heat Sink

Fortunately, Dell makes a much more effective cooler (part # VWD01) for the G5’s higher-end XPS cousin that fits the G5 and is a perfect drop-in replacement for the pancake cooler: unscrew the 4 screws at the corners of the pancake cooler, unplug the fan wire, remove the cooler, clean the old thermal paste off the CPU, and install the new cooler. The new cooler comes with a perfect layer of thermal paste pre-applied so you just line up the screws, plug in the fan, and screw it down. The corners of the heatsink have numbers (1,2,3,4); screw the screws down in that order and gradually (i.e. screw 1 down 1/2 way, then 2 down 1/2 way, then 3, then 4, then back to 1 to screw it down more…until the screws are tight).

The Dell VWD01 routinely sells new for around $25 on eBay which is less than half the price of most third party coolers. It is also the only upgrade I’m aware of that is a drop-in replacement for the custom Dell case/motherboard.

So how well does it work?
With the old pancake cooler, my CPU idled around 45-50C and would quickly reach 95-100C (and then thermally throttle) if placed under load. With the new cooler, my CPU idles around 35-38C and even with all cores at max load, stays around 75C indefinitely; it never thermally throttles. At idle, the fan is silent; at max load you can hear it, but it is not loud. I monitor temperatures, clock frequencies, and core loads using OpenHardwareMonitor and put the CPU under stress using the Stress CPU feature of CPU-Z (I recommend both programs).