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thermal paste always needed?


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#1
nikorasu

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Is thermal paste usually needed, or just something extra to help cool your cpu? And if I do end up using it, how would I apply it exactly? If it's just 'paste' you apply, then I'm sure you don't want a big glob all over the place, right?

lol.. sorry.. this probably sounds stupid, but I was just curious before I went and bought some.
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#2
dsenette

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thermal paste is ABSOLUTELY neccessary (or any other thermal compound be that a pad or paste or any other goo)...it's what actually transfers the heat from the proc to the heatsink...without it the thermal transfer is nowhere near efficient enough to cool the processor effectively...and you're right..ou don't want huge gobs of it because not only would that be messy..but it actually reduces the thermal conductivity of the substance since it's thicker..i'm not sure on the normal acceptable amount...but i usually put a bit on the center of the proc that's big enough to spread evently to about 1/8th of an inch thick once the heatsink get's applied..
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#3
rt3d

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Is thermal paste usually needed, or just something extra to help cool your cpu? And if I do end up using it, how would I apply it exactly? If it's just 'paste' you apply, then I'm sure you don't want a big glob all over the place, right?

lol.. sorry.. this probably sounds stupid, but I was just curious before I went and bought some.



Hello,

This is from what I remember when I built my pc. The heatsink & CPU surface is not completely flat so you will technically have airgaps which will produce negative heat transfer. So your thermal compound is needed...to fill the gaps.

As far as temp & performance difference between using it and not....I'm not sure, but I have always done this and I know everyone I have talked to says this is an absolute must for computers today. In my opinion, I would use it.

When you apply it, just put a paperthin layer on the heatsink w/your finger and make sure you apply the whole surface. Then stick your heatsink on the CPU.

I used a silver thermal compound which is suppose to provide very good heat conductivity. I have heard they have "thermal pads" which can be a substitue for the thermal compound, but I don't have much knowledge of that. You may want to ask someone about that or look into it yourself. Cheers!
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#4
p-zero

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So, in theory if the 2 surfaces were perfect you wouldnt need the paste. I was thinking of the engineering aspect of it and it makes no sense. Paste, in my opinion wouldnt be nearly as efficient as metal to metal contact, especially if the heatsink is aluminum which has awesome thermo disapating properties. Unless the paste is in essence "liquid" metal. And then still I dont htink it would be as efficient. Besides the airflow in most computer cases really sucks anyway. Flat, square edges with 90 degree turns = bad airflow. Just some thoughts.
-Pete.
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#5
nikorasu

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Ah.. I see. I know my processor has this rubbery substance on the top of it, where it meets with the heatsink/fan. Does that take care of the heat transfer or should I buy some paste to be safe?

(Man.. I'm glad I didn't run my newly built system yet.. lol)
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#6
rt3d

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So, in theory if the 2 surfaces were perfect you wouldnt need the paste. I was thinking of the engineering aspect of it and it makes no sense. Paste, in my opinion wouldnt be nearly as efficient as metal to metal contact, especially if the heatsink is aluminum which has awesome thermo disapating properties. Unless the paste is in essence "liquid" metal. And then still I dont htink it would be as efficient. Besides the airflow in most computer cases really sucks anyway. Flat, square edges with 90 degree turns = bad airflow. Just some thoughts.
-Pete.



Good point p-zero. I wonder if that too would be the best way (metal on metal).

But I think the reason for the thermal compound is because when there is aluminum being used between the connection of cpu and heatsink, aluminum expands when hot and contracts/shrinks when cold.

Most heatsinks are made of aluminum and because of the metal itself, when the heatsink and cpu is first created, they have tiny invisible gaps on the surfaces.

And so when you have this aluminum surface on another surface, and this aluminum surface gets hot & cold, it will expand and contract causing it to distort and become uneven more so than it originally was. Because of this, there will be air pockets involved and that is where the thermal compound comes in.

I think heatsinks use to be made out of copper, but because copper is more expensive than aluminum they changed that. Oh well.

As far as most optimal airflow in a computer...yes, that is always a good challenge. lol. Cheers!

Edited by rt3d, 30 March 2006 - 05:48 PM.

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#7
warriorscot

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Well as a trainee chemical engineer and chemical engineers loving heat transfer i could completely explain the mechanics of it, how sad is that. Metal on metal contact wouldnt work because its impossible to produce a perfectly flat metal surface, if you look at it under an electron microscope you see not the smooth flat surface but a jagged irregular surface this is why you need paste, alot of pastes are in some part metallic.

There is also the air problem and even heat flow, uneven heat flow is a real pain to work with so you always try and get it as even as possible one way or another.

I wouldnt use your finger though it can be toxic or a very strong adhesive, a credit card does the job.

Heatsinks are still made of copper as it has superior thermal properties over aluminium, however its heavier and quite expensive so you only find it in higher end coolers, my new VF900 is an all copper beast, its pretty hefty even though its the lightest all copper cooler in its class.

Basically its completely essential every manual and text bool on computers will tell you its totally essential to safe running, weve had a few people on here who missed it and there systems dont work or barely work because of it.
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#8
troppo

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well i no that if your proccesor is a pentium then the thermal paste should be applied over the covering cap evenly ( but as explained before not to much )

for amd i dont no i have never built a system with amd (yet),
troppo
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#9
troppo

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well yes you should always use thermal paste or some sort of thermal compond when installing a processor

i no that with p4's you should apply the paste evenly over the metal covering cap

for AMD's i dont no i have never built a system with an amd proccesor (yet),
troppo
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#10
nikorasu

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Awesome, thanks for the help everyone. This forum rocks - I got a lot more info than I really expected. So, before I go burn out my processor, I'm gonna get some thermal paste.

:whistling:
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#11
troppo

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yes good idea lol :whistling:
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#12
warriorscot

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Get arctic silver 5 its the best thermal compound available.
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#13
nikorasu

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Thanks for that again. I just ordered the artic silver 5 paste.

Just have to say thanks again - you all saved me mucho bucks $_$
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