Ok everyone knows certain components in a PC get hot, and probably the biggest source of heat is the processor. To stop it overheating you'll need something to take this heat away, and whether it's a heatsink with a fan or a water cooling block you'll need thermal paste to get a good connection and make it as effective as possible. A surface that looks flat will in fact have lots of tiny imperfections in it and thermal paste bridges the gaps that are left.
You may find that your heatsink comes with a heat pad on it - usually a grey square or circle on the copper base. If so then it isn't necessary to apply your own thermal paste, just put the heatsink on as instructed. However using a quality thermal paste such as AS5 will provide better performance. If it does have a thermal pad be sure to remove the plastic protective covering before installation.
For the majority of casual users the odd degree difference between the different pastes and the different methods of application wont make any difference. However a cool running PC is generally a happy PC and quite a few faults can be traced to overheating, so getting the thermal paste right can sometimes make a big difference
Highly recommended is Arctic Silver 5 and as per the instructions on their website, here's a guide to its application. Note that the same principles apply to other thermal paste and also to graphics card chips.
Be advised - there are other pastes out there, and the manufacturers of those pastes may tell you differently to what is in this guide. The guide here is based on Arctic Silver 5 because it's generally accepted as the best paste and it's cheap and easily available. If you find you're getting conflicting information post here for clarification.
IMPORTANT: before starting you need to properly clean off any old thermal paste from both the processor surface and the heatsink. Iso-Propyl Alcohol is used most often, but you can also use nail varnish remover (as long as it doesn't have any perfumes or other additives) or Arctic Silver's own ArctiClean. Use a lint free cloth to clean the surfaces with the cleaner and make sure any residue is removed, after which do not touch the surfaces with your hands, or you'll have to do it again.
This will depend on the type of processor you have, and whether you have an exposed core
Or a core with a heatspreader
The basic principle is the same - apply the paste to the cpu as per the following and fix the clean heatsink or block as per its own instructions
For exposed cores you need to apply a SMALL amount of paste to the top of the CPU core and spread it thinly and evenly. There is such a thing as too much in this business I'm afraid! For cores like this you'll need about a quarter grain of uncooked rice. Larger than that and you should use about half of a grain. SPREAD THINLY AND EVENLY then put your heatsink on as per the instructions provided.
SINGLE CORES WITH HEATSPREADER
These cores are designed in much the same way as the ones with exposed cores but with the addition of a metal heat spreader to aid heat transfer, making the core look much bigger than it is. For this reason it isn't necessary to cover the whole contact area with paste. Instead you should apply a blob in the centre of the processor. This should be the size of an uncooked grain of rice for an intel core, or one to one and a half grains for an AMD core. Then when you put the heatsink on the pressure will spread the paste properly;
The example shows how the heatsink will spread the paste and why you only need it in the middle
as you can see here the AMD core under the heatspreader is bigger hence the need for more paste
DUAL CORE WITH HEATSPREADER
The principle with these is similar to the single cores, but instead of a blob of paste you want a line;
To make sure you put the line in the right direction (i.e. covering core properly) you need to look at the core so the little triangle in one corner is in the bottom left. Then apply the line from top to bottom.
Again the heatsink will spread the paste properly
QUAD CORE WTH HEATSPREADER
Lastly for the new Quad core offerings from Intel we have a similar method to the dual cores but with a horizontal line to cover both cpu dies. Note the orientation of the cpu when applying the paste.
One last thing, if you put the heatsink on then have to take it off, you'll need to properly clean the surfaces and reapply the paste, as the air tight seal will have been broken!
(Much of the information provided was obtained from the arctic silver website and is only repeated here for ease and not for monetary gains by myself or the website owners. Plus we always advise the use of Arctic products )
Edited by - Gareth R on 25 Jan 2008 22:50:44
any thoughts or additions welcome...
Very much needed guide, but those images are under Arctic Silver's copyright probably.
and Topre Realforce 88UB
i did think about that, unfortunately there's no way to link to them directly as they're all now within pdf's - i swear their instructions used to be a normal website
in the mean time i will try and find similar images elsewhere
much needed guide nice one
maybe you can say about thermal pads ?
besides i would argue i'm not infringing copyright for various reasons
EDIT just checked it - reproduction for the purposes of instruction with non commercial purpose and with sufficient acknowledgment does not infringe copyright
Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 Section 32 Subsection 1
You learn all sorts at University these days
Edited by - Gareth R on 29 Jan 2007 20:55:43
quote:Plus you're practically advertising them!
HDD: 250Gb Samsung SATAII| Optical Drives: Lite-On DVD RAM Drive, Emprex CD-RW Drive| FDD: Generic FDD| PSU: Corsair HX 620W
Operating System: Windows XP Home
Peripherals: Monitor: Belinea 1925S1W 19" Widescreen| Printer: Dell Photo Printer 720| Keyboard and Mouse: Hiper Keyboard and Microsoft Habu with QPAD Mat| Joystick: Saitek Cyborg Evo
Water Cooling: CPU Block: Swiftech Apogee| GPU Block: Swiftech MCW60-B| Pump: Alphacool Laing DDC-Ultra
Radiator: ThermoChill PA120.2| Fans: 2 x Nexus D12SL-12| Reservoir: 6" ThermoChill ThermoTube| Additive: Zerex
yea defo wouldnt have a problem with reproducing here, and it would be nice to have a sticky
Whoops. I spread the paste on my core 2 duo. Does it make much difference? It's running at around 47-55 degrees.
Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 (2.13ghz) w/ Scythe Mine
Asus P5B Mobo
2GB (4x512) Geil Ultra 800Mhz CAS4 RAM
XFX 7900GS w/ Zalman fan
2 x 160GB SATA2 Seagate Barracuda
Pioneer DVD drive
Tagan 420W Whisper Quiet PSU
Thermaltake Tsunami case
You should see some temp drops if you do it the recommended way.
Shouldn't that be "bottom left"...
Sapphire HD7950 3GB Vapox-X - LG GH22NS50 22x DVD±RW SATA ReWriter
3x Samsung SpinPoint F3 1TB — Coolermaster Cooler Master HAF 922 — Corsair TX 650W — Corsair H50-1 Hydro Series High-performance CPU Watercooler
nice one thank you - changed
by the way do you think it would be a good idea to give examples of each type of processor? AMD and Intel variants?
You could use some pic from here for AMD single core with and without heatspreader (to show the need for bigger "pea" of TIM on the heatspreader), otherwise AMD counterparts are quite similar.
and Topre Realforce 88UB
Edited by - Valis on 03 Feb 2007 14:09:32
oooooh, i'm sticky
been home without internet for a couple of days lol
quote:Please take a few steps away from me then
and Topre Realforce 88UB
lol very good
I installed my Arctic 7 Freezer Pro onto my E4300 the wrong way round then immediately spotted my mistake and put it on right, I didnt power up the PC so no heat was transferred, but do you think I should have reapplied the paste given that I had seated it down in that position? My idling temps are now between 42-44C and its all stable, but some people on here seem to get 30C temps.
I only have one 120mm case fan running slowly and a 92mm zalman on slow, so my higher temps might be because of that, I really wanted a quiet PC (hence the reason for the lack of fast running case fans.