The thermal paste (also called thermal silicone, thermal putty …) is a substance that improves the heat conduction between the surfaces of two or more objects that may be irregular and not make direct contact. The thermal paste is used to join (paste, in a way) the processor with the base of the heatsink, improving the passage of heat from the processor to the heatsink too, of course, dissipate the heat generated by the CPU. The process is not complicated, but we have to be careful if we throw a lot, we can do the opposite and worsen the temperatures by an excess of substance. ¿ How to take the thermal paste? It’s easy and straightforward, but take it with patience and haste.
We must be clear about the meaning of a few things to understand why we must throw the thermal paste in a certain way.
- IHS: called an integrated thermal diffuser, is a small metal sheet that covers the processor, mainly protects the DIE, and performs the function of transferring the heat generated in the processor to the base of the dissipator.
- DIE: is the inner part of a processor. It is the processor itself, where all the cores, caches are located …
- PCB: a base plate of any component. Not the motherboard of the computer, if not the plate that, for example, holds all the elements of the graphics card, can be green, blue, black …
The IHS of the current processors is not 100% smooth, like the base of the heatsinks, it is also not completely flat and without malformations, therefore, if the IHS and the bottom of the heatsink are not making full contact, the heat it can not reach the heatsink and the processor temperature increases. For that is the thermal paste, a substance that unites in more significant measure the processor and the base of the dissipator solving the possible malformations of both.
The thermal paste efficiency is measured in watts per meter-kelvin W / (m · K), which is the amount of thermal energy that dissipates in X time. The more dissipation capacity, the better the thermal paste is.
In case you did not know it or do not remember it well, the thermal paste (also known as grease, putty, or thermal silicone) is a whitish substance that works as a heat conductor between two components that do not make direct contact.
When you are assembling a computer, you will usually use it between two components that are almost always a heat sink and a CPU / GPU for better heat conduction. More specifically, what this putty does is fill in the space between both components, no matter how small, and thus increase the performance of the heat sink, which in turn will prevent the element from overheating.
To apply the thermal paste, we must follow two main steps: prepare the surface and use the putty. We explain what the process is like below.
Preparing the surface
- Choose the correct pasta. There are different types and ingredients; some are made only of metal, others of ceramic, and others of silicone. The metal ones are the most expensive, and they are the best drivers. If you are going to buy one of these, try to check the ingredients and make it a mixture of silver, gold, and copper. The ceramic works almost as well as the metal but costs less. And silicone is the cheapest of all and usually comes with some of the heat sinks when you buy them. It will not last as long as the other two.
- Clean the CPU / GPU and the heat sink. Use a little cotton and alcohol to do a gentle cleaning. Try to get well-concentrated alcohol, from 70% to 90%.
- Sand the surface, if it seems necessary. So that the covers are better than ever, and a little, this will make them more uniform, and the cooling performance will be much higher. If the components already had thermal paste, start by lifting the old one with a spatula and then use sandpaper to obliterate the old one.
Applying the thermal paste
- Some people place the paste on the base of the heat sink and others on the processor. The best option is to be on the second so that you do not put too much putty. You must apply it with two X-shaped lines because it is how they will cover more space and have fewer air bubbles, according to the results of the Puget Systems experiments. If you have fewer bubbles and more covered surfaces, the heat will dissipate much better.
- Glue the heat sink to the processor with even pressure on all sides so that the putty extends correctly and creates a thin layer. It is essential that after doing this, you do not separate the components because if you do, you should start the process again, cleaning the old pasta before.
- When you think everything is fine to connect the fan to the motherboard and check the BIOS to see, the temperature stays below 40 ° C when it is not being used.