Every once in a while we have to apply new thermal paste in the CPU. It is a term compound or thermal interface material (TIM), which is crucial in the PC construction process. Without it, our computer’s processor will quickly overheat and the PC will shut down when we are playing games or doing an activity that requires a lot of system resources.

To obtain a good performance and not endanger the components of our computer. It is essential to apply thermal paste on the CPU before mounting the cooler. In this detailed guide, we will see how we should proceed to achieve it.

Why do you need thermal paste between the CPU and the heat sink?

Thermal paste is a considerably important material that always has to be present between the CPU cooler and the CPU itself. Heat pipes exist next to the CPU cooler and rest against the surface area of ​​the processor. These are designed to efficiently “cool” the temperature it generates. The problem is that this heat transfer doesn’t happen efficiently without a Thermal Interface Material (TIM) between the cooler and the CPU.

In short, CPU fans will only be able to effectively cool the processor if it has thermal paste. A thermal paste is one of the most effective TIMs out there. Remove small air gaps and gaps between the CPU cooler and the CPU chip itself.

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In this way, when we have thermal paste, the cooling efficiency of a CPU cooler is at maximum capacity. Without it, the CPU cooler won’t make the same contact with the processor and will eventually get hotter and hotter.

Some things to consider before using thermal paste

Install CPU on motherboard

Before proceeding further it is essential to make sure that the CPU is installed on the motherboard. It is necessary before preparing to put thermal paste on the CPU and when finished, learn to monitor its temperature.

Have all the tools nearby

It is absolutely necessary to have all the tools that we are going to use at hand to avoid wasting time and possible problems during the process. In turn, we also have to choose a correct thermal paste to continue. An incorrect one could even help to have higher temperatures.

Other things that we are going to need is 99% isopropyl alcohol solution to clean the surface of the CPU and a microfiber cloth. For nothing in the world it is advisable to take “shortcuts” in this regard. It is important that the surface area of ​​the processor is completely clean, free of any residual material, before applying the paste.

How to apply thermal paste on the CPU

The first thing we will need is to take the microfiber cloth and pour a small amount of 99% isopropyl alcohol solution. We must be careful when we are going to use the solution. Next we will use the microfiber to scrub and clean the surface area of ​​the CPU.

Clean with a soft cloth.

What we will achieve with this is to leave the surface of the CPU 100% clean. We will have to check if there is residual material, although for nothing in the world will we have to touch the CPU directly. Before installing the CPU on the motherboard, we will have to leave it completely clean. In case it is not the first time that thermal paste is applied, we will have to carry out this step anyway.

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Next, we will apply the thermal paste to the center of the top surface of the CPU. It doesn’t need to be a huge size, we recommend a pea size or a big drop if your CPU is big. For example, if we have the new 13th Gen Intel Raptor Lake and Ryzen 7000 CPUs, we’ll need to put twice as much thermal paste as normal to make sure the larger surface area is fully covered.

Apply CPU thermal paste

We must consider that too little thermal paste will end up being worse than a lot. However, it is important to keep in mind that the amount does not have to be excessive either. The problem with this is that if the amount is too much, it could leak into the motherboard, which for obvious reasons would become a serious problem. In case it happens, we will have to clean the affected areas with a microfiber cloth and isopropyl alcohol.

Remove plastic film.

Next, we’re going to need to check that the side of the AIO or air cooler that will rest against the surface of the CPU has a protective film on it. In the vast majority of cases, we would have to remove the plastic film that cares for the surface of the air cooler before assembling it. Plastic film is present in both AIO and air coolers. If we forget about it, we will find a layer of plastic between the CPU and the heat sink. This would cause the CPU to overheat faster.

Arm CPU again.

Now we will continue with the installation of the air cooler or AIO on the CPU. To be completely sure that the thermal paste is evenly distributed, we’re going to assemble the cooler and start by screwing it into one corner. Then we are going to screw in the opposite corner diagonally, and so on. We’ll need to repeat the process for all corners until the AIO or air cooler sits as firmly in place as possible. We recommend screwing diagonally and slowly tightening each screw.

Thermal paste applied correctly.

And that would be all. We apply the thermal paste to the CPU. Now we’ll need to look around the CPU cooler bracket to see if any thermal paste is sticking out. In case this happens, we will have to clean it quickly with a microfiber cloth and make sure that the layer of term compound does not end up being excessively thick.

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