Thermal paste application and cleaning tips | ENBLE

Thermal paste application and cleaning tips | ENBLE

The Importance of Thermal Paste in Computer Builds

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

When it comes to building a computer, one crucial component that often gets overlooked is thermal paste. This gloop-like, silvery material plays a vital role in ensuring that your computer’s processor doesn’t overheat. By filling in the micro cavities between the processor and the cooler, thermal paste enables a more efficient transfer of heat, allowing your processor to run harder and faster at lower temperatures. Not only does this enhance the performance of your PC, but it also makes it quieter.

How to Apply Thermal Paste

If you’re considering applying new thermal paste to your CPU and cooler, there are a few steps you’ll need to follow for a successful application. But before we dive into that, it’s important to note that if your CPU and cooler are not clean and have old heat paste on them, it’s necessary to clean them first.

The key to applying thermal paste is to not overdo it. You only need a small, pea-sized amount of paste. Anything more would be excessive and potentially messy. However, as long as you’re not using a conductive heat paste, applying too much won’t break anything but might compromise the effectiveness of the cooler.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to apply thermal paste:

Step 1: Install your CPU on the motherboard if you haven’t already. Use the plunger on the thermal paste tube to squirt a pea-sized amount of paste in the center of the processor.

Step 2: Proceed to install the CPU cooler by applying top-down pressure. There’s no need to spread the paste beforehand as the pressure from the cooler will evenly distribute it.

Step 3: After installing the cooler, check the edges of the CPU to see if any excess thermal paste has spilled over. If necessary, remove it with a microfiber cloth or paper towel.


How to Clean Off Thermal Paste

If you already have a working machine that needs to have thermal paste reapplied, you’ll first need to remove the old thermal paste. Before starting the cleaning process, make sure to remove the CPU cooler and visually locate the thermal paste, typically white or gray in color.

Follow these steps to clean off thermal paste:

Step 1: Begin by wiping the top of your CPU with a microfiber cloth to remove as much thermal paste as possible without causing any damage.

Step 2: Place the microfiber cloth over the end of an isopropyl alcohol bottle and pour some onto the cloth. Gently wipe the CPU until all the old thermal paste has been removed. If needed, use cotton swabs soaked in isopropyl alcohol to remove stubborn remnants of paste.

Step 3: Repeat the cleaning process for any old thermal paste stuck to the underside of your CPU cooler.

Once you’ve successfully removed the old thermal paste, you can then proceed to apply the new one following the steps mentioned earlier.

How Often Should You Apply Thermal Paste?

The frequency of applying thermal paste can vary. Some people leave it on for years without any significant issues, while others opt to replace it annually. Intel recommends reapplying the paste “every few years” or whenever you remove your cooler for any reason. It’s wise to monitor your temperatures regularly, as rising temperatures could indicate the need for a fresh application.

Thermal Grizzly

Is Thermal Paste Necessary?

In short, yes. Thermal paste is the most common and effective solution for filling the gaps between the cooler and the processor. It ensures proper heat transfer, preventing overheating issues. However, if you’re not keen on reapplying thermal paste every couple of years, you can consider using a thermal pad as an alternative.

Thermal pads serve the same purpose as thermal paste, but with added convenience. These malleable pads have excellent thermal conductivity, efficiently transferring heat from the CPU to the cooler. Unlike thermal paste, they don’t dry out or degrade, ensuring consistent performance over the years. While thermal pads may not match the performance of top-tier heat pastes, they offer peace of mind and ease of use.

In conclusion, thermal paste plays a crucial role in maintaining optimal performance and preventing overheating in your computer. Whether you choose to apply heat paste or opt for a thermal pad, ensuring proper heat dissipation is key to keeping your PC running smoothly and quietly. So, if you haven’t opened up your computer in a while, it might be time for a spring clean and a reapplication of thermal paste.