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How do you apply Thermal Compound to a CPU?


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How do you apply Thermal Compound to a CPU?

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#1 Crisp

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 14:29

As title; How do you apply Thermal Compound to a CPU?
Is there a right or wrong way to do it?

I've always done it as a small pea sized blob in the middle, and let the heat sink do the spreading by just slapping it on top. I've always thought the other method could run the risk of air bubbles.


#2 Hum

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 14:32

Just a small drop in the center top of the CPU. No spreading.

http://www.maximumpc...y_thermal_paste

http://www.hardwares...com/article/274

#3 Astra.Xtreme

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 14:34

I've always done it as a small pea sized blob in the middle, and let the heat sink do the spreading by just slapping it on top. I've always thought the other method could run the risk of air bubbles.


This is the method I always use. I think the air bubbles thing is just a myth, but regardless, it's easier and faster just to put the pea-size blob on there and be done with it.

#4 NeoandGeo

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 14:38

I use a pea sized blob. The best way to make sure you have a good seal is to put a specific size, press it down firmly then raise it back up to see the kind of seal that amount gives. If it looks good, clean it off and redo that exact amount, if it needs work change the size accordingly.

#5 Pupik

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 14:38

Just a small drop in the center top of the CPU. No spreading.

Don't you need to apply it differently now with dual, quad and etc. numbers of cores in the cpu?

#6 Astra.Xtreme

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 14:48

Don't you need to apply it differently now with dual, quad and etc. numbers of cores in the cpu?


CPUs are designed to have the hottest area in the center for obvious thermodynamic reasons.
Below is a thermal image of an i7-2600K:

Posted Image

So I guess you could argue that the pea-size method is the best because you are guaranteed to get the best coverage on the center every time.

#7 Nagisan

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 14:57

Don't you need to apply it differently now with dual, quad and etc. numbers of cores in the cpu?

You can, but it won't make much of a difference.

I look at it this way, if you took a processor with no cooling the heat from the cores will spread throughout the entire IHS (not evenly of course since the heat source is in the center), so why try to "spot cool" only over top the cores? The heat that doesn't transfer directly to the thermal paste is going to spread to the parts of the IHS that doesn't have thermal paste, and then those parts of the IHS are not going to get cooled as efficiently.

Might as well cool the entire IHS, more surface area being cooled = more cooling to the cores. No point in trying to only cool over top the cores when the whole IHS is going to get at least some heat from the cores.

#8 Detection

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 15:01

I spread it perfectly over the entire CPU until an almost transparent layer covers the whole thing

Putting a blob in the middle in no way guarantees that the entire CPU is covered once you seat the heatsink, the paste could easily be compressed one way much more than the other

#9 The Dingus Diddler

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 15:04

This is how I do it.



#10 f0rk_b0mb

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 15:07

I spread it perfectly over the entire CPU until an almost transparent layer covers the whole thing

Putting a blob in the middle in no way guarantees that the entire CPU is covered once you seat the heatsink, the paste could easily be compressed one way much more than the other


This! I use plastic wrap so it doesn't get all over my finger.

#11 Nagisan

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 15:18

This is how I do it.

https://www.youtube....be_gdata_player

Awesome.....although that did lead to a nice video of why you should use the pea method

.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hNgFNH7zhQ

Basically the line method works but will more easily fall off the edge, the spreading a thin layer method increases the chances (significantly) of getting air bubbles. The pea method doesn't do either of that and is much easier to do.

I've used the pea method and have never had any heating issues on my CPU unless I go crazy overclocking without throwing on water cooling.

#12 The Dingus Diddler

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 15:32

Yeah I should have linked that video, they do a lot of good tutorials for stuff.

#13 WaveZero

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 16:27

I personally use a credit card and spread it evenly across the CPU. Works for me.

#14 Farstrider

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 16:38

Just reading all the answers and replies, I'm not sure what this "air bubble" thing is? I've buit 100's of PC's and have always spead the thermal past evenly across the CPU and I've never once had an issue doing it this way! I've bent a few CPU pins along the way, by dropping the CPU while putting it in place, but not once have I had any issues applying paste using the afforementioned method.

#15 simplezz

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 16:42

This is how I do it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TnyoJtv9Cx0


rofl