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How to correctly apply thermal compound







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Home > Guides > How to correctly apply thermal compound

  How to correctly apply thermal compound  


How to correctly apply thermal compound

We've all been there at some point (or at least have heard the horror stories). 14 tubes of arctic silver 5 later and an almost pure silver motherboard, ram, vga card; you're scratching your head wondering why your temps aren't going down! Maybe it's because you didn't put enough thermal compound on? (Kidding!) This very common misconception is easily remedied and after reading this article you will save money, time, and more importantly your poor tubes of thermal paste.

The first step is to gather your supplies:
1. A soft cloth towel for taking care of the majority of the old paste.
2. Q-tips for cleaning out the harder to reach places such as the sides of your CPU.
3. Alcohol or Arctic Cooling's ArctiClean. These solutions will help break down old thermal paste, as well as clean up any fingerprints.

Start by cleaning off all of the old thermal compound from your CPU and heatsink. Even If you have new products and they don't look dirty, it is still a good idea to clean them off, clearing them of any manufacturing dust or perhaps any oily fingerprints you may have unexpectedly left while handling your new CPU and heatsink. You only need a minimal amount of emulsifying solution (Alcohol or ArctiClean) for cleaning. Again the object is not to douse your CPU and heatsink in flammable liquids, just use enough to effectively clean and prep your products for the thermal compound.

Once you've cleaned off all the old paste and any contaminates/oily residue, Take your thermal compound and expel a small BB sized daub in the center of your CPU (as pictured below).

You may choose to apply your thermal compound before or after you mount your CPU on your motherboard. I find it's easier to clean your CPU and apply the thermal paste after it is already mounted on your motherboard, because you will not have to handle the CPU after you've cleaned it. Potentially introducing oil from your fingers or possibly dropping your CPU and having to re-clean then reapply.

The final step is to smoothly and centrally press your heatsink onto your CPU so that the pressure of the heatsink gently squishes your bb sized ball of thermal paste into a flat and even layer between your CPU and heatsink.  

You can clearly see that after pressure has been applied from mounting the heatsink on the CPU, that the daub of thermal compound was pressed flat and was evenly dispersed from the center out, you should see approximately what is represented in the above image the next time you remove your heatsink. That about wraps it up; it should be noted that a fresh application of thermal every one to two years can bring about lower temps in a system. So if it's been a while since your last heatsink upgrade/cleaning, a fresh application of thermal compound is a good idea.

Thank you for all your email comments and questions, they're greatly appreciated!

(Heatsink used in this article: Thermalright IFX-14)


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