Thermal Paste Application

As one of the most important and expensive components in a computer, a CPU that fails to reach or stay within safe temperature limits can become unstable or even completely fail. Using thermal paste keeps your processor cool and allows it to perform at its best.

The most basic thermal paste is a mixture of metal oxides and other ceramic materials with a silicon binding agent, although some, such as ARCTIC MX-4, include carbon which makes it electrically conductive. The oxidized metals in the mix, particularly aluminum oxide, are excellent thermal conductors and – when mixed with the ceramics – have good electrical properties as well.

Most CPUs require thermal paste to prevent them from overheating and frying. Without it, the motherboard will likely shut down the CPU in response to excessive heat and the chip could be permanently damaged.

Thermal paste also serves to fill in minor imperfections in the interface between a CPU and its heat sink, which would hinder heat dissipation. This ensures a smooth and consistent contact surface that can transfer heat to the cooler in an efficient manner.

The first thing you should do before applying new thermal paste is clean the old one off. Use a coffee filter, lint-free cloth or some IPA to wipe off any residue and then apply the new paste. There are a number of different methods to choose from when it comes to applying the thermal paste – some suggest a line-based application, others talk about a middle dot or surface spread, while others still recommend using an applicator to ensure an even spread before clamping down the heatsink.Thermal paste removal

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