How to Apply Thermal Paste On CPU – Easy Ways

By Louis Cook

One of the most complicated tasks in building a personal computer is mounting a cooler and CPU.

The CPU chip is the most delicate and expensive part of your computer.

However, if you apply thermal paste in a wrong way, you can damage it to a severe extent.

I am here to help you with that. In today’s post, I will talk about how to apply thermal paste. Once you know it, our job will be smoother than ever and you will end up having a better performing CPU as well.

How to Apply Thermal Paste:

I have divided this segment into two parts so that you can get a better hold of it. In the first section, we will talk about preparing the surface. On the next section, we will go deep into the applying process.

Preparing The Surface:

To apply any thermal paste, you need to make the surface ready at first. There are three steps to achieve that, selecting an ideal thermal plate, cleaning the CPU and Heat Sink surfaces, and wet-sanding the processor and heat sink surfaces. The last one is not always necessary, which I will talk about later.

Selecting An Ideal Thermal Plate:

Choosing an ideal thermal plate is the first step of the process. In general, thermal pastes are made up of zinc oxide and silicone. However, the expensive ones have silver and ceramic in them. They are way better in terms of performance as silver and ceramic are amazing heat conductors. Keep in mind, you need them if you seriously overclock your computer. If not, the basic thermal paste will serve all your needs with ease.

Cleaning the CPU and Heat Sink Surfaces:

For the next step, you need to clean the CPU and Heat Sink surfaces. To clean the surfaces, dampen a cotton swab or a cotton ball in isopropyl alcohol and wipe the surfaces. Remember, the higher alcohol percentage you use, the better results you will get.

Wet-sanding the Processor and Heat Sink Surfaces (Optional):

In addition, you can wet-sand the processor and heat sink surfaces to make them smoother. It will increase the efficiency of the whole project. However, keep in mind that this step is only necessary if you are trying to achieve the ultimate cooling effect. Otherwise, the aforementioned steps will do fine.

Applying Process:

The applying process consists of four steps. These are placing the thermal plate, attaching the heat sink to the processor, reconnecting the fan to the motherboard, and booting the system.

Placing the Thermal Paste:

You would need only a small amount of the thermal paste. Just put a tiny drop of the paste at the center of the plate, in case of circular cooler plates. If it is a square-shaped plate, apply the paste in the shape of a line or a cross, as per your preference. There is no need to spread it, it will be covered in the next step.

Attaching The Heat Sink to The Processor:

In the next step, attach the heat sink to the processor. Make sure to apply even pressure from all sides. The thermal paste will spread over the entire surface in this way. As a result, there will be an even thin layer to fill the gaps. Over time, it will spread even more with heat.

Once you have attached the heat sink to the processor, do not pull it back up to see if the thermal paste is spread evenly. If you do that even by mistake, it would break the seal. This, in turn, will result in you repeating the whole process from the beginning.

Reconnecting The Fan to The Motherboard:

Furthermore, plug the CPU fan wire into the CPU fan socket. The reason you should do that is this lets the computer adjust the fan speed. There is no need for a change in voltage.

Booting The System:

Now, you need to make sure that the fan is spinning. If so, then enter the BIOS. You can do it by pressing the del key or F1 during POST. After that, you should check whether the CPU and GPU temperatures are normal. Any temperature below 40 degrees is considered normal when a CPU or GPU is in an idle state.

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That is about it. Now that you know how to apply thermal paste, utilize it to your benefit. If you have any more questions in your mind, or if you want me to talk about something else, do let me know in the comments section below.

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