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Thermal Compound Crash Course

xzzyxzzy Registered User regular
In all the PC's I've built over the years, I've never once had to apply my own thermal compound.

My recently RMA'd motherboard was returned to me today.. which means I get this dubious pleasure. I've googled it a bit and guess I know the basic procedure, but I'm wonder what common problems people have with the stuff. The system in question is a LGA 775, if that matters.

I read conflicting reports about how much to apply.. some say a "pea sized drop", others say "2 millimeter drop" and several others are somewhere in between. Is it better to use too much than too little? Some say to not spread it around the CPU at all, others do.

Also some conflicting information on how to install the heat sink (using the stock intel one for now). Some say to squish it down gently in the middle, then push the locking pins in. Others say to never touch the heatsink and only the locking pins. Does it matter either way?

When I took apart the system for RMA-ing last month, the stock compound was in a fairly even circle. Any benefit to stressing out getting compound evenly to all four corners of the CPU heat spreader?

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    HardtargetHardtarget There Are Four Lights VancouverRegistered User regular
    edited February 2009
    there is no reason at all that you can't touch the heatsink.

    usually you want a pretty think layer on there, a lot of people pu ta tiny drop in the middle and use a credit card to work it around the bottom of the heatsink

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    HardtargetHardtarget There Are Four Lights VancouverRegistered User regular
    edited February 2009
    also the stock one was in a circle because it was a thermal pad as opposed to the grease that you buy

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    ArcSynArcSyn Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Step 1: Clean off the old compound. You can use the edge of a credit card to do this, as the softer plastic shouldn't damage the surfaces.

    Step 2: You want a VERY thin layer to cover the entire area that will be in contact with the heat sink. The varying opinions of how much to use probably has to do with the fact that this area varies in size. Think about how large or small that area is going to be, and apply a small drop in the center of the area. Ideally, you want the thinnest layer possible between the processor and heat sink. The pressure applied when mounting the heat sink will distribute the thermal compound across the surface and thin it out. It does not need to absolutely cover to the corners or edges, but as close as possible is preferred.

    Step 3: Attaching the heat sink varies by motherboard. It doesn't really matter where you touch it, just don't break anything or bend the pins. This is why it's safest to hold and attach it with the locking pins.

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    BarrakkethBarrakketh Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    xzzy wrote: »
    In all the PC's I've built over the years, I've never once had to apply my own thermal compound.

    My recently RMA'd motherboard was returned to me today.. which means I get this dubious pleasure. I've googled it a bit and guess I know the basic procedure, but I'm wonder what common problems people have with the stuff. The system in question is a LGA 775, if that matters.

    I read conflicting reports about how much to apply.. some say a "pea sized drop", others say "2 millimeter drop" and several others are somewhere in between. Is it better to use too much than too little? Some say to not spread it around the CPU at all, others do.

    Also some conflicting information on how to install the heat sink (using the stock intel one for now). Some say to squish it down gently in the middle, then push the locking pins in. Others say to never touch the heatsink and only the locking pins. Does it matter either way?

    When I took apart the system for RMA-ing last month, the stock compound was in a fairly even circle. Any benefit to stressing out getting compound evenly to all four corners of the CPU heat spreader?

    If you're using Arctic Silver then you should look at the directions available from their site. Intel's dual/quad Core 2 processors have different application instructions due to how the processor is laid out, so you aren't supposed to use a "drop".

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