For me, the ease of installation, even pressure and lack of stress on the CPU is worth the frame cost even without lower temp. However I agree with your conclusion.I got some results from testing the Thermalright 1700 BCF on my 12700k (stock clocks). I also managed to get my hands on the Thermal Grizzly frame that i had to install for my best bud (he bought it from Germany, took it almost 3 weeks to arrive).
First of all, the i got my Thermalright from alliexpress, and it cost me 12.5€ (european warehouse). It was the original frame, with a genuine sticker on the box that can be used to check authenticity on website.
Upon removing my Arctic Liquid Freezer II 280, i saw this:
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To me, it seems like there is perfect contact in the middle, but not in the sides that the ILM is actually applying pressure on the CPU. But again, the middle section of the CPU is most important, since all cores are there.
I cleaned all thermal paste with alcohol, and used an old card with a light source behind to check if the CPU is bended. And i got this:
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... it looks like it's bended, but not that much that most people should worry about.
I was also surprised to see that the original LOTES / MSI ILM already had washers (of some short) on the bottom. Correct me if i'm wrong, but i think that in other CPU sockets, the ILM did not have those black washers. Maybe it is their attempt to ease the pressure on the chip? I have no idea...
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Now, the big question, will it un-bend when ILM is loose? I was happy to see that it gets flat. The following picture is with the ILM removed, and it looks flat.
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... and another one with the thermalright frame installed:
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Now, installation as easy as it can get. Easier than the Thermal Grizzly's frame. The thermalright frame has the actual height needed to put enough pressure on the CPU to work and pins have correct contact. That means that you can actually bottom down the screws without worrying if you apply to much or too low pressure. At lease on MSI z690 pro wifi, it works as intended. I just didn't go crazy on tighten the screws, just applyied normal pressure on them and felt the screws bottomed down...
On the Thermal Grizzly frame, the frame height of the frame is lower than this one. That might make it compatible with more mobos (i have no idea even if that statement is correct), but that makes it harder to calculate how much pressure is needed so that you wont tighten the screws too much or too little.
Now, the test results... I just run several Cinebench R23 benchmarks to see if the results i get are similar, to exclude any type of thermal error. I have 3 screenshots with the standard ILM, and 3 screenshots with the thermalright frame installed. These screenshots are right at the start of the benchmark, after 5mins running a 10min benchmark (middle of the test) and right after it finishes. You will also see other temps in the screenshots, like nvme and GPU temps, but just ignore them. I used the latest HWInfo. CPU was running on stock clocks, only XMP is enabled in BIOS.
All my tests were done with high ambient room temperature (30C). That was intentional, since i didn't want to have any air conditioning in the room while testing.
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With stock ILM, and without the thermalright frame installed, i got this:
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Now, with the Thermalright frame installed, i got this:
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As you can see, temperatures are lower... -6C on cpu package at the middle of the benchmark.
My 2cents on this, if you are a hardcore overclocker, go for it...
... if you are a gamer or a professional, don't bother...
I hope i helped those who are thinking of buying one of these frames... Just don't get the Thermal Grizzly one... it simply does not worth it, its 3 times more expensive and harder to install.