How To Apply Thermal Paste On Intel and AMD CPU

Explaining the Vertical line method & Pea dot method to apply thermal paste effectively on Intel & AMD CPU's.

When you build a new PC or upgrade the 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 eliminates 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.

Q – What is used on processors to eliminate air pockets, helping to draw heat off the processor?

The answer is Thermal Paste

It allows efficient CPU heat transfer to the cooler mounted directly above it. As a result, fix PC overheating issues. This post will cover the key point;

  • 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 do you apply thermal paste?

How much thermal paste should be applied to the CPU? It will be explained later in the post. But if you are asking where to apply thermal pasteyou 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 to the CPU (Intel & AMD). This guide also includes the best way to apply thermal paste. Two renowned methods namely “Vertical Line” for Intel CPUs & “Pea Dot” for AMD CPU’s are explained.

Related: Beginner’s Guide To Diagnose and Fix Overheating Laptop

What is the best CPU thermal paste for PC and laptop?

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.

We have written a useful guide on what are the best thermal pastes for CPUs. You can read it by clicking on the link.

best thermal compound for CPU and GPU

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.

Should I apply thermal paste on CPU – Why?

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 that absorb heat but don’t transfer it outside. It results in higher CPU temperature.

Related: How Can To Check PC’s CPU Temperature?

What are the best thermal paste application methods to cool 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 is best that maintains normal CPU temperature range.

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.

Method to apply thermal paste on CPU

Here in this guide, we have selected the best ways to apply thermal paste on the CPU which are the “line and pea dot” methods.

These methods are used in all modern computer processors.

Before taking a 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 the CPU towards the CPU cooler.

Read Also: Does CPU Thermal Paste Expire?

How to replace thermal paste from CPU

Those who have built new PCs 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.

How to replace thermal paste from CPU

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 a 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 the CPU cooler’s heatsink. Once you are done with the cleaning process, you can start applying a new thermal paste.

How to apply thermal paste on Intel CPU using the vertical line method

The vertical line method is feasible for Intel CPUs 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.

Related: What’s The Ideal GPU Temp Range While Gaming?

For instance, the temp of core 3 on Intel i7-3770K is hotter due to its closeness to the IGPU module processor.

Best method to apply thermal paste on Intel CPU

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 the processor and draw a straight line on it. As shown in the following picture.

Vertical line method to apply thermal paste

Now mount the 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 the CPU cooler properly instead of using a piece of plastic, you can avoid air pockets.

applying thermal paste on CPU

How to apply thermal paste on CPU Using AMD pea-dot method

Unlike, Intel CPU’s which have a rectangular shape, the AMD CPUs have a 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.

applying thermal paste on AMD CPU

The pea dot method (a.k.a middle dot method) is the best and most 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.

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