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How to Apply Thermal Grease

on May 09, 2023

Applying thermal grease (also known as thermal paste or thermal compound) correctly is crucial for efficient heat transfer between the CPU and the CPU cooler. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to apply thermal grease:

  1. Prepare the CPU and Cooler:

    • Ensure that both the CPU and the cooler are clean and free from dust or debris.
    • If there is any residual thermal grease from previous applications, remove it using isopropyl alcohol and a lint-free cloth or coffee filter.
  2. Apply Thermal Grease:

    • Take a small amount of thermal grease, roughly the size of a grain of rice or a pea. Note that you don't need to use excessive amounts as it can lead to poor heat transfer or spills.
    • For CPUs with an integrated heat spreader (IHS), such as most modern CPUs, apply the thermal grease directly onto the center of the CPU's heat spreader.
    • If you are using a CPU without an IHS, such as some older CPUs or specialized models, apply the thermal grease directly onto the CPU die.
    • It's recommended to use a spreading tool or the cooler's contact surface to evenly spread the thermal grease across the CPU surface. Alternatively, some thermal grease manufacturers advise applying a small dot in the center and allowing the pressure from the CPU cooler to spread it naturally.
  3. Mount the CPU Cooler:

    • Carefully align the CPU cooler over the CPU, ensuring that it makes contact with the thermal grease.
    • Gently press the cooler down, ensuring that it is evenly seated on the CPU.
    • Follow the manufacturer's instructions for securing the CPU cooler in place. This typically involves fastening screws or clips to the motherboard or CPU socket.
  4. Final Checks:

    • Double-check that the CPU cooler is securely mounted and making proper contact with the CPU.
    • Ensure that the thermal grease is spread evenly and covers the entire CPU surface.
    • Reassemble the rest of your computer, ensuring that all connections are secure.

Remember, the goal is to create a thin, uniform layer of thermal grease that fills any microscopic gaps between the CPU and cooler, facilitating efficient heat transfer. Applying too much or too little thermal grease can negatively affect heat dissipation. If you're unsure about the correct amount or technique, refer to the CPU cooler or thermal grease manufacturer's instructions or consult online resources for specific recommendations related to your hardware.

Need help applying thermal grease or reapplying new thermal grease? GadgetMates can help. Contact us for help with Computer Repair and we can get you back up and running cool and smooth. See our Thermal Grease.