How To Correctly Apply Thermal Paste

Removing The Original Thermal Paste

If the processor and/or cooler have thermal paste on them, you should remove it before applying a new thermal paste.

In Figure 8, there is a Sempron processor that was originally mounted with a cooler that already had thermal compound.

Thermal GreaseFigure 8: Sempron processor with remains of thermal compound

In this case, first you must clean off the remains of the thermal compound. Use a cotton swab with isopropyl alcohol (isopropanol). This kind of alcohol is purer (doesn’t contain water) and can be found at electronics equipment stores or drugstores.

Thermal GreaseFigure 9: Clean all the remains of thermal compound

Thermal GreaseFigure 10: The processor is clean and ready to receive the thermal paste

You can also clean the rest of the thermal compound that remained on the heatsink. We used a utility knife to rub out the rest of the compound, being careful not to scratch the cooler base. To finish, use a piece of cloth with isopropyl alcohol (isopropanol) to remove the rest of the thermal compound.

Thermal GreaseFigure 11: Cooler with rests of thermal compound

Thermal GreaseFigure 12: With a utility knife, rub out the rests of the compound

Thermal GreaseFigure 13: Final cleaning

Thermal GreaseFigure 14: Cooler ready to be installed

With all the remains of the thermal compound removed, you can now apply the new thermal paste.

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Author: Daniel Barros

Daniel Barros lives in Brazil and used to be our motherboard reviewer. He is a partner at a local PC sales and maintenance store.

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