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
3. Alcohol or Arctic Cooling's
These solutions will help break down old thermal paste, as well as clean up any
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
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
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comments and questions, they're greatly appreciated!
(Heatsink used in this article: