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Most Common Mistakes

Every day in our labs we see many different mistakes regarding cooler installation and use of thermal paste.

The most common mistake is using too much thermal paste. Excess thermal paste interferes with and spoils the correct heat dissipation. Additionally, there is the possibility of paste spilling over to the outside and placing the system in danger.

Processors that have exposed components, such as the Athlon XP, can be subject to short circuits if the thermal paste closes the contact of these exposed components.

In the processor in Figure 42, besides the excess thermal paste, someone stuck a warranty sticker directly on top of the processor rubber pads that support the cooler. The thickness of that seal increases the pressure on top of the processor, and this pressure can break it.

Thermal GreaseFigure 42: Duron with too much thermal paste and sticker covering the rubber pads

Another very common mistake is the placement of warranty seals on the contact part between the heatsink and the processor. Don’t accept a processor with seals covering it. If you have a processor with a seal on its top, remove it right away.

The processor in Figure 43 is a poor 200 MHz Pentium MMX. In addition to the sticker covering practically the entire contact area between the processor and the heatsink, it was also using the cooler in Figure 7, which uses graphite as the heat conductor.

Thermal GreaseFigure 43: Sticker covering practically all of the processor

Other problems that we frequently see are broken processors – mainly Athlon XP and Sempron socket 462 processors – due to mistakes during cooler installation (putting the cooler in the wrong position or using too much strength when attaching the cooler), and people who substitute the thermal paste with toothpaste, liquid silicone, olive oil, glue, etc. Believe us, it happens!

Thermal GreaseFigure 44: Socket 462 cooler installed in the wrong position

Thermal GreaseFigure 45: Processor damaged due to bad cooler mounting

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