Names (Banned) May 26, 2014 @ 3:13pm
Proper way to remove old thermal paste/apply new
So I wish to remove old thermal paste from the bottom of my fan and top of processor. First, I hear that you shouldn't use anything less than 100% alcohol. Is that true? Is rubbing alcohol from the local pharmacy too impure?

Second, what is the best method for applying thermal paste? Back when I created this rig, it was my first time messing with that sort of thing, and I don't think I did it the best way (just kinda put small dabs and used something to gently smooth it over the top of the processor or whatever you want to call it). This probably wasn't best. In fact I'm sure it wasn't. It's been a few years (2009). Earlier this week I removed the fan to give it a good dusting from between the vents, and I noticed the paste is not evenely distributed anymore on either the processor or bottom of the fan. Has that "old" look to it.

I have an i7 920 dual quad, but it must be a first gen since I ordered it almost 5 years ago. It still runs fine, and I wish to keep it that way because right now a new processor is simply not economically feasible, and with what I do I could not settle for less than another i7
Last edited by rotNdude; May 27, 2014 @ 8:11am
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hatchet5891 May 26, 2014 @ 3:26pm 
I repasted my cpu not too long ago. I had a cleaner that came with the paste but I thought I read that isopropyl alcohol can be used, (somebody correct me if I'm wrong on that). I used q-tips with the cleaner to clean up the old stuff, then just added a pea size dot of new thermal paste in the center of the cpu and applied the heatsink. It should spread out evenly that way. I hope this kind of helps, maybe somebody more knowledgable will be able to help better though.
shiel May 26, 2014 @ 3:27pm 
You can use isopropyl alchohol...preferrably 90%+... Hold the processor at a 90° angle and get the majority off with a q-tip dipped in the alcohol... Then finish up with a microfiber cloth (one you'd use to clean eye glasses with). Make sure you don't do any of this over your mobo or touch the bottom or top of the cpu... Also make sure you're grounded because static electricity can kill your cpu. Do the same for the fan.

When you're done that and the cpu is completely dry put it back in the mobo. From everything I've read the best method to apply the thermal paste is the pea method. You put a ball about the size of a lentil ball on the center of the cpu and put the fan back on.

If I remembered the link where I got this info from I'd give it to you but unfortunately I don't. I did this as I described though and it worked quite well. Hope this helps :)

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/thermal-paste-heat-sink-heat-spreader,3600-5.html

Found it :)
Last edited by rotNdude; May 27, 2014 @ 8:12am
Saint Jimmy May 26, 2014 @ 3:40pm 
I've had a bottle of this http://www.amazon.co.uk/Akasa-AK-TC-Tim-Clean/dp/B000BK7ATI for years, always removed the thermal paste quickly and easily.

When applying the paste, I use arctic silver 5 with a small ball in the center. Then with a small plastic bag wrapped tightly around my finger, spead it evenly so the whole chip has a very thin covering.

Then just attach the cooler and good to go. I also have an i7 920 in one of my PC's, great cpu and holds it's own againt a lot of the newer chips especially when overclocked.

Names (Banned) May 26, 2014 @ 3:55pm 
Thanks all for the replies.
_I_ May 26, 2014 @ 3:57pm 
or go to walmart or a drug store and get some 95+% isoprropol alcahol
use a paper towel (not tissues) to clean off the cpu and heatsink

when putting on the cpu cooler, put a grain of rice to 1/2 pea sized dot in the center of the cpu, and install the heatsink
Tris' Laptop May 27, 2014 @ 2:26am 
As said, use alcohol. I use the 'grain of rice' approach whereby you put a small streak of paste on and then just attach the cooler back on. Works for me. :D
iAmButOneMan May 27, 2014 @ 3:27am 
Originally posted by Saint Jimmy:
I've had a bottle of this http://www.amazon.co.uk/Akasa-AK-TC-Tim-Clean/dp/B000BK7ATI for years, always removed the thermal paste quickly and easily.

When applying the paste, I use arctic silver 5 with a small ball in the center. Then with a small plastic bag wrapped tightly around my finger, spead it evenly so the whole chip has a very thin covering.

Then just attach the cooler and good to go. I also have an i7 920 in one of my PC's, great cpu and holds it's own againt a lot of the newer chips especially when overclocked.

+1 on this. It's what I use if I am re-doing the thermal on any chips. Bit smelly (lemony fresh) but it's good for the cleaning.
_I_ May 27, 2014 @ 7:30am 
spreading it with your finger will cause small air bubbles, let the heatsink spread it when pressure is applied
Last edited by _I_; May 27, 2014 @ 7:30am
iAmButOneMan May 27, 2014 @ 10:53am 
Originally posted by _I_:
spreading it with your finger will cause small air bubbles, let the heatsink spread it when pressure is applied

Not just that but there's grease and such on your fingers which is bad for your chips.
_I_ May 27, 2014 @ 11:00am 
even using a bggie over your finger will still cause air bubbles
just let the heatsink spread it when pressed down
Names (Banned) May 27, 2014 @ 11:01am 
Originally posted by _I_:
spreading it with your finger will cause small air bubbles, let the heatsink spread it when pressure is applied

yeah I never, ever used fingers. also fingers major problem is more grease than air.
Last edited by Names; May 27, 2014 @ 11:01am
Azza ☠ May 27, 2014 @ 11:29am 
This entirely depends on your CPU + Headsink types, in regards to the best way to apply... It's not necessarly just as simple as a blob.

I highly recommend using: Arctic Silver 5


Firstly to clean off original thermal paste:

1. Detach the heatsink or waterblock from the CPU and remove the CPU from the motherboard.
2. Place both on a clean, flat working area with the thermal surfaces facing up.
3. Use a credit card or similar plastic piece to scrape off the majority of the pad. Be careful not to scratch the base of the heatsink.
4. Then use a cloth (lint free is important)

You need Isopropyl Alcohol, at least 70% or greatly... 90% if possible. Some places sell Isopropyl Alcohol pads for cleaning wounds, so long it's high enough content, they should do the trick as well as you can use multiple ones to clean and then discard with the alcohol already on and no lint. The higher the level of the alcohol, the quicker it dries and doesn't leave residue.

Paper towels can be used, but normally leave lint behind, so not recommended.

Rub in an outward motion, using clean folds of the pad/cloth or flipping it over. Repeat this process until your heatsink is nice and shiny with no traces of paste on it! No LINT, no HAIR, no DUST, and no FINGERPRINTS!


Look up your CPU type or thermal paste directions for the best thermal path...

For example: http://www.elitekiller.com/pics/AS5_application.jpg

Lets say you have a Intel Quad Core.

Since the quad core are two rectangular cores you will need to apply a thin straight line of compound above the core directly to the heatspreader. Be CAREFUL to apply the thermal compound in the CORRECT DIRECTION. Orient your CPU heatspreader with the triangle mark on the chip pointing down and to the left. With your tube of thermal grease, start at the left side of the heatspreader and move the tip of the syringe to about 1/4" in from the left edge. You will apply thermal compound horizontally across the heatspreader. Stop 1/4" from the right edge of the heatspreader.

So it's important to understand it's a single line only!

After you apply the line of thermal compound do NOT spread the line out yourself. This is where people make a rookie mistake.

When you place the heatsink on top of the heatspreader the thermal compound will spread out just like an oval pancake. This will insure proper thermal material coverage for your quad core. This will give you ZERO bubbles, full contact, and all your cores are cooled effectively.

Be sure to lower the heatsink straight down onto the CPU. Once the heatsink is properly mounted, grasp the heatsink and very gently twist it slightly clockwise and counterclockwise one time each if possible (Just one or two degrees or so). Then use some force to click it into locked/correct position.

Re-attach the fans, etc.

You need to run the system for 200 hours before optimal cooling has reached maximum conductivity. So run the PC as normal without overclocking, etc. After that temperature will often drop an additional 2C to 5C over this "break-in" period.

I personally activity 12 degrees lowered temperature compared to standard thermal.
Last edited by Azza ☠; May 27, 2014 @ 11:43am
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Date Posted: May 26, 2014 @ 3:13pm
Posts: 12