How to Apply Thermal Paste

Last Updated on September 14, 2020 by Scott Krager

As a PC gamer, I know that your CPU temperature is kind of a big deal when it comes to PC performance.

That’s the reason why we have all those CPU coolers.

But here’s a thing: When it comes between CPU/GPU and heatsink, there can be a little unwanted air space between these two, which can be potentially harmful for your processor or graphics card.

Why does it happen?

It happens because every processor (be it from Intel or AMD) comes with different types of top surface and, most of the times, this top surface isn’t flat.

Enters the Thermal Paste.

Also called Thermal grease, or thermal compound, it is a paste that is used to conduct heat from one place to another. Using this paste, you can fill that air gap between your CPU/GPU and heatsink, and it’s equally essential for heat dissipation between processor and heatsink. In short, it keeps your CPU dye cool.

So all good, is it?

Well not actually. In order for a thermal paste to work, you basically need 2 things:

This article revolves around the first of those statements.

But before that, I think we should clear some confusion about the usage of thermal paste.

  1. It’s always applied on top-side of your processor (where there’s a manufacturer’s logo) not on the bottom side (the one with lots of teeny tiny pins).
  2. If you are using a new processor with your existing system, then you need to remove with the previously applied thermal paste with isopropyl alcohol and apply the new one.
  3. There are 2 types of thermal pastes into the market: Conductive and Non-conductive. But you know what? It doesn’t matter much which type do you apply on your heatsink.

How to properly Apply Thermal Paste

Ok, so now comes the most important part.

How to properly apply thermal paste.

Here’s how you do it.

Both Intel and AMD have recommended squeezing a pea-sized amount onto the center-top side of CPU. There is no need to cover the full surface with the thermal paste but you can do so with the help you any tool such as a used Credit Card.

But fully covering the area with thermal paste can be a potential problem.

It’s because thermal paste takes time to hold its own and if you apply too much thermal paste chances are that this paste can expand into CPU socket later and damage your CPU.

That’s why don’t apply too much paste. After applying the paste, you can attach the CPU with the heatsink, and put little pressure to make sure that there’s no air gap between the two of them.

After having two of them attached, place ‘em in your desktop and start using your computer. Some people say that thermal paste requires 200 hours to CPU on-time to get themselves working, which is roughly 2 weeks for most of the users.

And That’s it. You have learned how to properly apply a thermal paste. In case you have any suggestions then let us know in comments.

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