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FAQ: How to Apply Thermal Paste

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Gareth R
Advanced PC Builder

United Kingdom
3566 Posts

Posted - 29 Jan 2007 :  20:12:24 Show Profile Click to see Gareth R's MSN Messenger address Reply with Quote
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 watercooling 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

PASTE:

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.

CLEANING

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.

APPLICATION:

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

EXPOSED CORES

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 ½ grain of uncooked rice. Larger than that and you should use about ¾ 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 )

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Edited by - Gareth R on 25 Jan 2008 22:50:44

Gareth R
Advanced PC Builder

United Kingdom
3566 Posts

Posted - 29 Jan 2007 :  20:17:16 Show Profile Click to see Gareth R's MSN Messenger address Reply with Quote
any thoughts or additions welcome...

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Valis
Robotic PC Builder

Finland
42950 Posts

Posted - 29 Jan 2007 :  20:17:37 Show Profile Reply with Quote
Very much needed guide, but those images are under Arctic Silver's copyright probably.

Proud user of IBM Model M
and Topre Realforce 88UB
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Gareth R
Advanced PC Builder

United Kingdom
3566 Posts

Posted - 29 Jan 2007 :  20:22:33 Show Profile Click to see Gareth R's MSN Messenger address Reply with Quote
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

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arc
Junior PC Builder

253 Posts

Posted - 29 Jan 2007 :  20:41:51 Show Profile Reply with Quote
Sticky:

much needed guide nice one

maybe you can say about thermal pads ?


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Gareth R
Advanced PC Builder

United Kingdom
3566 Posts

Posted - 29 Jan 2007 :  20:45:18 Show Profile Click to see Gareth R's MSN Messenger address Reply with Quote
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

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Edited by - Gareth R on 29 Jan 2007 20:55:43
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Plummer
Robotic PC Builder

United Kingdom
4655 Posts

Posted - 29 Jan 2007 :  20:53:16 Show Profile Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by richardsgareth333
besides i would argue i'm not infringing copyright for various reasons

Plus you're practically advertising them!


And: Sticky!

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Gareth R
Advanced PC Builder

United Kingdom
3566 Posts

Posted - 29 Jan 2007 :  20:57:04 Show Profile Click to see Gareth R's MSN Messenger address Reply with Quote
yea defo wouldnt have a problem with reproducing here, and it would be nice to have a sticky

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Gareth R
Advanced PC Builder

United Kingdom
3566 Posts

Posted - 30 Jan 2007 :  22:45:34 Show Profile Click to see Gareth R's MSN Messenger address Reply with Quote
bump

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Nitesh
Advanced PC Builder

3837 Posts

Posted - 30 Jan 2007 :  23:02:40 Show Profile Reply with Quote
Nice work.

iMac - 24", 3.06GHz C2D, 2GB RAM, 8800GS 512MB + 500GB HDD
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chrisoftoday
Rookie PC Builder

75 Posts

Posted - 31 Jan 2007 :  09:35:09 Show Profile Reply with Quote
Whoops. I spread the paste on my core 2 duo. Does it make much difference? It's running at around 47-55 degrees.

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Nitesh
Advanced PC Builder

3837 Posts

Posted - 31 Jan 2007 :  11:47:54 Show Profile Reply with Quote
You should see some temp drops if you do it the recommended way.

iMac - 24", 3.06GHz C2D, 2GB RAM, 8800GS 512MB + 500GB HDD
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arc
Junior PC Builder

253 Posts

Posted - 03 Feb 2007 :  11:01:42 Show Profile Reply with Quote
bump

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Dazza
Precious PC Builder

United Kingdom
3964 Posts

Posted - 03 Feb 2007 :  12:55:34 Show Profile Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by richardsgareth333


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 right. Then apply the line from top to bottom.






Shouldn't that be "bottom left"...


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Gareth R
Advanced PC Builder

United Kingdom
3566 Posts

Posted - 03 Feb 2007 :  13:52:23 Show Profile Click to see Gareth R's MSN Messenger address Reply with Quote
nice one thank you - changed

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Gareth R
Advanced PC Builder

United Kingdom
3566 Posts

Posted - 03 Feb 2007 :  13:53:18 Show Profile Click to see Gareth R's MSN Messenger address Reply with Quote
by the way do you think it would be a good idea to give examples of each type of processor? AMD and Intel variants?

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