How to apply Thermal paste to a GPU or CPU[Complete Guide 2023]

The application of thermal paste is essential to keep the processor cool. When you build a pc or want to upgrade a CPU cooler, you need to apply a thermal compound. This material is also known as thermal paste, grease, heat paste, and thermal interface material (TIM), among other names. You can apply thermal paste on two major components, e.g., CPU & GPU.

The correct submission of thermal paste is an important part of ensuring your CPU is operating properly. In this helping guide, you will get to know how to apply it.

First of all, here is the list of things you need:

  • Paper Towel
  • Cotton Swabs
  • Isopropyl Alcohol
  • Thermal Paste

In the first step, all you should do is clean off your CPU. If you’re installing a brand new CPU, this won’t matter. But if you have an old compound on your CPU or even if you’ve touched on top of it with fingers or anything, it’s good to clean it first. So, make sure you have a paper towel and cotton swabs.

How to apply thermal paste on GPU or CPU

There are different types of liquids you can use to clean the top of the CPU. We’ll recommend Isopropyl Alcohol. It’s normally easy to get and will do a good job of getting rid of the residue. However, if you have a CPU cooler installed, go ahead and remove it. Most are mounted to the motherboard, just with four screws that can be loosened by hand. Once you have removed the mountains screws, you will twist the cooler back and forth, but don’t use too much force. Once the cooler is off, you can go ahead and take a dry paper to wet and wipe as much of the old thermal compound from the cooler. Some like to go straight to using the alcohol, but in our opinion doing a dry wipe first can be cleaner.

Then you’re gonna apply the alcohol to a new piece of paper towel and wipe down the cooler. Make sure it’s clean and shiny.

You can read that How to clean the motherboard?

Then put that aside and do the same with the CPU but with one minor added step. If you don’t have cotton swabs, you can do this with a paper towel. So take the swab and moisten it, but don’t do it too much. You don’t want it soaking wet. It won’t kill your computer if it drips on the components, but if this is conductive thermal paste and it seeps in the place where it’s not supposed to be, then the alcohol evaporates, it can cause problems.

So you don’t have to deal with that, take that swab and clean the CPU sides. Once that’s clean, go ahead and give the top of the CPU one last moist wipe.

It should look super clean, with no streaks or residue. Take the thermal compound of your choice. Don’t get this on the other components. You have to be careful. It can short them out, so please do take care.

There are different methods or styles of application, but we will be doing the classic DOT or P method. If you have never applied compound before, don’t be afraid to have a test run on some paper towel. Now apply a small amount to the middle of the CPU if it’s the size of one of the capacitors surrounding the CPU, around that it doesn’t have to be perfect, so don’t apply too much though it can spill over from the sides of the CPU and cooler and which can cause some issues like at the very least it will be a mess to fresh up when you finally replace it. At the worst, it can be creating shots within your system and can fry your board.

After this, you are ready to put your cooler on. Some designs might not give you the option to place the cooler straight back onto give that even mounting pressure like the stock AMD cooler, for example, those you kind of put them on a bit sideways. They work great but sometimes can end up with some uneven coverage. Otherwise, have your mounting screws handy and place them as fast as possible while applying a reasonable amount of pressure. You don’t have to give in all your effort on this. It’s just enough to hold it still. Then replace your screws in one corner to another corner like a pattern turn one until you feel resistance, then install the opposite corner and continue until all four screws are on there.

Now at this point, you can let go and can tighten up the screws individually in the same pattern until they are nice and snug. This will ensure you have even pressure between the CPU and the cooler be sure to plug in your fans and pump or anything else because if you hadn’t, this will all be for not that’s it you’re good to go, so as long as your thermals are in check, there is nothing to worry about at this point.

If you follow the steps and advice, then you’ll be able to feel confident that not only are you correctly applying your thermal paste, you’ll also see improvements in your PC build’s performance. Upgrading your thermal paste is a great way to prepare your CPU for overclocking.

Originally posted 2021-04-03 16:34:28.