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Thread: Thermal Paste Advice

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    Thermal Paste Advice

    Looking at upgrading my cooler from the stock cooler to the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo CPU Cooler so I can overclock my chip, and in need of some advice about Thermal Paste.

    Firstly, is the paste which comes with the cooler sufficient, or should I buy something like Thermalright Chill Factor 3 paste?

    Secondly, whats your technique for removing old paste from your chip? Been reading up online and some people are saying use rubbing alcohol, some say acetone, others are saying use ArctiClean. Some are saying paper towel/kitchen roll is fine, others are saying use coffee filters. Q-Tips good or bad? Air duster needed?

    Finally, any advice on application? Dot in the middle of the chip, 'X' shape, 2 lines...

    Wouldn't think something so simple could end up being so complicated....

    Any advice would be much appreciated. Don't want to spend unnecessarily.
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    I tend to just use kitchen towel to get old paste off, if you want to really clean the surface of a cooler though, get some alcohol wipes. As for applying the paste, just put some in the middle of the cooler then apply cooler into position, it'll spread once its pushed down over the CPU.
    I just buy Arctic cooler from eBay, it's cheap and I haven't had any problems personally.

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    Re: Thermal Paste Advice

    Arctic silver 5 thermal paste is the best. And for a proper job I use Acetone free nail polish remover (laugh all you want) this is quite a common thing to use and a lot cheaper than the pure alcohol.

    I use ear buds to clean the CPU with. Air duster on the cooler if needed or in the case. Then for application a small pea blob in the center of the CPU. This way when the cooler lands it will spread it itself and there will be zero air pockets.

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    Re: Thermal Paste Advice

    I would agree with the Acetone free nail polish remover, it does a good job of removing old TIM with cotton buds. Boots do an own brand bottle for under £2.
    For TIM application i use an old credit card to put a thin layer over the base of the heatsink.

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    Re: Thermal Paste Advice

    I have tried acetone free nail polish remover before and it made a right mess. Perhaps it was the specific brand i used but it was aweful! Using pure acetone on the otherhand is very good for if the paste has gone hard and there is a tough build up, however its a good idea to wipe it clear with alcohol striaght after as acetone can weaken some plastics.

    I use Isopropinol as a general electronics cleaner as you can pick it up cheap and it lasts forever. Try to use a lint free or microfibre cloths rather than cotton buds wherever you can as these wont leave any fibres on the chip.

    For application of TIM there is two approches. You can put a pea sized amount on the CPU in the centre and let the cooler spread it (with a bit of rotational sliding to help it before you secure it in place), or you can spread a very thing layer with a credit card. Both have pretty similar results however i noticed 1 or 2 degrees improvement with the pea method (tested it at the weekend) and its easier to do.

    For brand, im the wrong person to ask. I dont squibble over a couple of degrees (hence even though i tested the pea/credit card method and left it on the the credit card even though it came out worse) so i just use whatever i have around or if i need to buy it i will get the cheapest one that i recognize the brand.

    Perhaps with the poor quality of the IVB internal TIM i should look towards using better stuff?
    Last edited by Biscuit; 19-02-2013 at 12:57 PM.

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    Re: Thermal Paste Advice

    I suppose brand has something to do with it. I asked the lady in the shop which was good for her with her nails She advised me and I bought. She did look at me odd mind. Ive used it on many processors and its always done the job well. I should of mentioned I use the earbuds with the nail polish remover (so they are wet and no fibers left over) and then wipe any residue off with a microfiber cloth if needed. Not always the case.

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    Re: Thermal Paste Advice

    IPA should completely evaporate and leave no residue, which is another of its advantages.

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    Re: Thermal Paste Advice

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EyXLu1Ms-q4

    I prefer to clean the CPU, then wrap my finger in some cling film (this ensures no nasty grease from fingers!). Put a blob on the end of the cling film and then spread it.

    It allows you to spread it very finely as you can freely move it about - remember that you only want a reasonably thin amount. You don't need to go insane.

    Never liked the card spreading one myself, always found it more hassle than just spreading it about with my finger, but it's purely a preference thing. Modern CPUs and heatsinks don't have a huge difference with thermal paste, a lot of it is marketing.
    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen View Post
    And by trying to force me to like small pants, they've alienated me.

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    Re: Thermal Paste Advice

    I didnt know of that type of cleaner but may look to try it myself. It looks to be pure alcohol and price is near on the same as the nail polish remover so advantages all round. Thanks. Always open to other ideas for whats best. Ive had the nail polish remover which I think cost me roughly £3 for about 1 year and cleaned more processors than you could shake a stick at with over half a bottle left lol. I should imagine the IPA will be the same. I found a 500ml bottle for £6

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    Re: Thermal Paste Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Agent View Post
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EyXLu1Ms-q4

    I prefer to clean the CPU, then wrap my finger in some cling film (this ensures no nasty grease from fingers!). Put a blob on the end of the cling film and then spread it.

    It allows you to spread it very finely as you can freely move it about - remember that you only want a reasonably thin amount. You don't need to go insane.

    Never liked the card spreading one myself, always found it more hassle than just spreading it about with my finger, but it's purely a preference thing. Modern CPUs and heatsinks don't have a huge difference with thermal paste, a lot of it is marketing.
    Might give this method a go this evening and see how it compares.

    Quote Originally Posted by simplicity96 View Post
    I didnt know of that type of cleaner but may look to try it myself. It looks to be pure alcohol and price is near on the same as the nail polish remover so advantages all round. Thanks. Always open to other ideas for whats best. Ive had the nail polish remover which I think cost me roughly £3 for about 1 year and cleaned more processors than you could shake a stick at with over half a bottle left lol. I should imagine the IPA will be the same. I found a 500ml bottle for £6
    IPA = Isopropynol = Isopropyl Alcohol

    Its all the same thing (unless you get this kind of IPA, in which case it wont clean anything!) I had a 1l tub for 4 years and it wasnt until i needed to soak my keyboard in it that it ran out and i replaced it. The fact that i managed to soak my keyboard should help demonstrate how long it lasts

    To the OP: i dont think you will need to use an airduster just to clean your CPU and cooler base plate, but if you need to clear a dust carpet off the front of a radiator or heatsink then its worthwhile getting. Articlean is good and my flatmate (NightshadowUK) swears by it, but i personally think its a waste of money over just using alcohol.
    Last edited by Biscuit; 19-02-2013 at 01:27 PM.

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    Re: Thermal Paste Advice

    Ok I'm going to do some clear up here.

    The best liquid interface material, flat out, is liquid metal, these are alloys of gallium, this stuff is rather tricky to use but will basically form a low temperature weld, turning your cpu and heat sink into one part.
    One major issue with liquid metal is you cannot use it one or around aluminium because it will chemically react and attack aluminium.
    So most heat sinks can rule this out, it's also tricky to apply correctly, you have to run the cpu hot for a while to melt and the weld to form and of course removing the heat sink once the weld has been made is not an easy thing to do.

    Acetone is very good for removing Arctic silver thermal paste because of the nature of it, it acts a bit like a glue drying out and hardening acting like a cheap weld full of very finely powdered metal to improve it's conductivity, but this does meak it harder to remove.

    Most other thermal pastes fall into one of two category silicon or oil based or a reflow polymer, all of wich generally have some sort of fine powder in them to help improve heat conductivity.
    In silicon or oil based it's used as a simple high temperature to stay liquid for as long as possible and not boil off, being a fluid based medium the praticles are highly mobile allowing for rapid movement of heat between two surfaces, immediate high performance effect with no bedding in time and easy of use, down side is they dry out over time and lose effectiveness.
    The most recent type is reflow polymers (eg the arctic cooling MX2 and later pastes) these use an oil base for ease of use be the addition of low temperature plasticisers these mean the paste dries out at room temperatures but then re-liquefies when it heats up.

    the single dot/grain of rice method does not work that well on direct heat pipe coolers due to the grooves between the heat pipes, although coolermaster did a lot to reduce the grooves on the evo they are still there
    here http://benchmarkreviews.com/index.ph...1&limitstart=5

    There's other factors to look at including mounting pressure and surface smoothness, a thicker more viscous paste will generally work better on a more rough surface and a thinner runnier paste will work better on a more smooth surface.

    And finally the biggest point is getting the right amount of paste, too much of a "good" paste will give you worse results than the correct amount of a "bad" paste
    I put "speech marks" in for a reason, because one article a while back tried toothpaste and it worked very well, for a couple of hours, then the toothpaste dried out and the temperatures soared.

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    Re: Thermal Paste Advice

    My method for cleaning is to start off by removing both heatsink and cpu, removing the cpu means you can make sure none of it runs down into the cpu socket and you can check that the cpu pins/contact points are clean before putting the it back in.
    Use a cocktail stick to scrape off the majority of the old paste (a wooden cocktail stick is too soft a material to do damage to the heatsink or cpu, unlike a knife blade) then kitchen roll and isopropanol, I ether got a 250ml or 125ml bottle you don' need much if you've scraped off the worst of it already, I've used my isopropanol for all sorts of cleaning and still have about a third left.
    In the past I've also used vodka. (alcohol work fine, you just don't want sugar or other residues)

    ps what most people call alcohol, ie the stuff in drinks, is ethanol, but alcohols are actually a whole series of carbon solvents.
    The other common alcohol is meths or white spirit (although with spirit can contain other solvents) which is methanol, it will work for thermal paste removal, however there are other ingredients in normal meths, dye to give it the distinctive purple colour and nauseants to stop people drinking it, these leave residues behind (same goes for most rubbing alcohols) you can clean the residue off with distilled water on a bit of kitchen roll but it's extra hassle.
    isopropanol is generally the best and easiest to get hold of, it's a secondary alcohol because the (-OH) alcohol group is in the middle of the molecule not at the end, this means you don't get drunk from it, it's just toxic to drink so there's no need to add n dyes or nauseants

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    Re: Thermal Paste Advice

    Any cloth/paper tissue that doesnt leave lint or paper residue on the surface of the CPU or cooler, i find the old paste just wipes off without the need for any solvents. I use a rubber glove and a very small amount of paste and cover the surface of the CPU by rubbing it in with a finger, your not putting a thick amount on here just enough to discolour the CPU. I then put a very small grain of rice size on and twist the cooler on. Used artic silver 5 for a while now and seems ok.

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    Re: Thermal Paste Advice

    The paste will also come off a lot easier when the CPU is warm - so run Prime / LinX for a bit and get its temp up. Then strip the system down and clean it off. It doesn't harden that fast
    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen View Post
    And by trying to force me to like small pants, they've alienated me.

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    Re: Thermal Paste Advice

    Great, thanks for all the advice. Think I will go with the Arctic Silver paste, as that seems to be the most recommended. As for removing the existing paste, think I will go for a lint-free cloth and some IPA (sounds like a worth-while, long lasting investment). The machine is a relatively new build (about 6 months) so the existing paste shouldn't have dried up too much, so should come off quite easily.
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    Re: Thermal Paste Advice

    I use toilet / kitchen roll to get the bulk off, clean with 'Sterets' pre-injection swab - IPA in a lint free material (available reasonable cheaply at most chemists) then leave to evaporate.

    Coffee filter papers are a good cheap lint free alternative.

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