When you build a new PC or upgrade CPU cooler you need to apply thermal paste. It’s important if you want better performance from your system.
Thermal paste is used between processors and chips which eliminate air pockets, helping to draw heat out of the processor? The CPU thermal paste is also known as Thermal Interface Material.
But if you are thinking, what is thermal paste? The answer is “it’s a thermal grease, a kind of thermally conductive compound which is commonly used as an interface between heat sinks and heat sources.
It allows efficient CPU heat transfer to the cooler mounted directly above it. As a result, fix PC overheating issues. This post will cover key point about;
- What’s the best way to apply thermal paste to CPU?
- What’s the best way to remove the thermal paste from the CPU?
- How to apply thermal paste to a CPU?
- How much thermal paste to apply to CPU?
- What to use to clean the thermal paste from the CPU?
Where To Apply Thermal Paste
How much thermal paste should be applied on the CPU? It will be explained later in the post. But if you are asking where to apply thermal paste, you can apply thermal compound on two major components e.g. CPU & GPU.
How often do you need to apply thermal paste? It’s not a regular activity you need to apply thermal paste only if you think your CPU temperature remains high.
In this guide, the focus is drawn on applying the thermal paste on the CPU (Intel & AMD). This guide also includes the best way to apply thermal paste. Two renowned methods namely “Vertical Line” for Intel CPU’s & “Pea Dot” for AMD CPU’s are also explained here.
What are the Best CPU Thermal Paste
The best PC thermal paste for CPU includes; Thermal Grizzly Hydronaut Paste, Akasa AK-TC TIM Clean CPU & Heatsink Cleaner, and Arctic Silver 5 thermal paste.
These are also used in this guide. You can buy thermal paste from Amazon.
Before you get a start, bear in mind that thermal paste is applied only on the top of the CPU, not the bottom or anywhere else.
It should be applied to the smooth metal plate where manufacturers imprint relevant information.
Why It’s Important To Apply Thermal Paste On CPU
It’s a proven fact that if you apply PC thermal paste on the heatsink or CPU, it will dissipate heat effectively and prevent your PC from overheating. But applying thermal paste is itself an art.
For example, if thermal grease is applied without flattening the layer, you will soon notice that CPU core temperature increases even under a nominal load.
And if you have used too much amount of thermal paste, then behold to witness the bubbles coming out from CPU and heatsink.
These bubbles create pockets they absorb heat but don’t transfer it outside. It results in higher CPU temperature.
What is the Best Method To Apply Thermal Paste on CPU
If you search “best method to apply thermal paste on CPU” on the internet. You will see that most of the posts explain “Spread” methods, according to them, this method maintains normal CPU temperature.
Unfortunately, modern heatsink or CPU’s Integrated Heat Spreaders (the upper metal part of CPU) are not coming on a flat surface. If you use a spread method to apply thermal paste, it will cover the micro gaps, as a result, fewer heat transfers.
Among other methods which of course you can use, apart from the “spread” technique are, X-shape, double- and even triple-line methods.
Here in this guide, we have selected the best ways to apply thermal paste on CPU which are “line and pea dot” methods.
These methods are used in all modern computer processors.
Before taking start it is important to explain here, that there are different types of CPU paste having different types of composition. But one thing is common between them, they transfer heat from CPU towards CPU cooler.
How To Replace Thermal Paste From CPU
Those who have built new PC’s can skip this part of removing thermal paste because these systems don’t have pre-applied thermal paste on them.
However, if you have already applied thermal paste on your CPU then you should remove it before proceeding further.
For applying thermal paste first you need to replace the old thermal paste. After that, remove the CPU cooler from the processor and gently clean the thermal paste with a paper towel.
You can also use TIM cleaner to clean any remaining residue, for that apply few drops of TIM cleaner, and then gently rub it in a circular motion on the processor. If you follow this method it will clean the IHS (Integrated Heat Spreaders).
If there’s residue thermal paste by the CPU latch, feel free to open your CPU latch and clean the latch and sides of your processor.
The same method is also used to clean CPU cooler’s heatsink. Once you are done the cleaning process, you can start applying a new thermal paste.
How To Properly Apply Thermal Paste on CPU
There are different methods to apply thermal paste but to properly apply thermal paste on CPU is still a confusing zone.
But we recommend that a dot of thermal paste almost equal to pea size is the sufficient paste which you can use. Well, it also solves the question that how much thermal paste do I need?
How To Apply Thermal Paste To CPU Using Intel Vertical Line Method
The vertical line method is feasible for Intel CPU’s because they have rectangular die under the IHS.
So, using the vertical line method help you maintain the ideal CPU temperature. It has also been observed that the temperature of the Intel CPU remains higher on certain cores.
For instance, the temp of core 3 on Intel i7-3770K is hotter due to its closeness to the IGPU module processor.
To use the vertical line method, gently squeeze the syringe of thermal paste so that a small quantity of thermal grease comes out.
Now hold the thermal syringe down on processor and draw a straight line on it. As shown in the following picture.
Now mount CPU cooler on it to spread the paste, you can also use a piece of plastic for the same purpose.
If you use a plastic technique you will notice that there are a small number of bubbles. This is the result of uneven pressure from the plastic part.
But if you install CPU cooler properly instead of using a piece of plastic, you can avoid air pockets.
Apply Thermal Paste Using AMD Pea-Dot Method
Unlike, Intel CPU’s which have a rectangular shape, the AMD CPU’s have square surface under the IHS.
That’s why on these CPU’s thermal paste is applied in circular/ round motion. If you properly apply thermal paste on AMD CPU’s then your processor can spread temperature through their CPU cores.
AMD CPUs generally have a square die under the IHS (Integrated Heat Spreaders). So, a more circular and round thermal paste CPU application is preferred over the oval and rectangular shaped thermal paste application.
Through our experience (and with correctly applied thermal paste), we found AMD processors to have an even spread of temperature through their CPU cores.
Pea dot method (a.k.a middle dot method) is the best and feasible way to apply thermal paste on AMD CPUs.
But to get optimum results with this method, you have to hold and push the syringe just above the surface and put a small pea size dot at the center.
Because when it comes to applying thermal paste, less is more. A small pea-sized drop is all you need. So, don’t spread it around, either the heatsink will spread it out evenly as you screw it in.