Thermal paste is one of the more subtle compartments of a PC that can have a huge impact on the level of performance of your processor. A proper application of thermal paste ensures more efficient cloak speed, heat management, and better overall performance.
But it’s a pretty underrated thing that not a lot of people really talk about, especially how much thermal paste is too much for the processor. Generally, there is no fixed value for that. But in case you put too much into the CPU, your computer will stop processing for a time span. Luckily, that doesn’t do any long-term damage.
If you don’t know the proper amount, then you don’t need to worry about it. That’s because we’ll go over an in-depth discussion about the quantity and the methods to apply the thermal paste for maximum performance.
What is Thermal Paste?
Thermal paste is a liquid-like silvery-gray substance that helps to keep your PC’s CPU cool and working efficiently. It’s one of the most important, yet overlooked subjects for PC builders.
The main job of thermal paste is to remove all the air gaps from the CPU and the cooler, resulting in better heat transfer and dissipation, which is essential for it to work.
It helps to enhance the heat transfer rate from the IHS of the CPU to the base plate or water block, whichever you’re using in your PC, and that helps to dissolve the heat from it.
What Happens If I Don’t Use Thermal Paste?
It’s not an option not to use the thermal paste as it’s one of the most critical elements that keep your CPU working properly. If you don’t apply thermal paste on your CPU, it’ll get heated very soon and at a range that’s super damaging for the processor. As a result, it’ll fail to work and shut down the machine.
However, for some processors, it might take a few moments to get overheated, but eventually, you’ll see that the system has stopped working. If you repeat the process and overdo it, it’ll ruin your CPU permanently, so, be careful about that.
How Much Thermal Paste is Too Much?
Now that you have a decent idea of what thermal paste actually is, let’s discuss the quantity of which you want to use it.
As there is no fixed amount that you should apply your thermal paste on, the general estimation is just a tiny bit. Some packs have 0.3ml, which is just enough for one use. You can imagine a piece of wheat, and that should be a good enough amount to put on the CPU. If it seems way too low for your case, you can increase it ever so slightly as well.
But what if you exceed the amount and use a lot of thermal paste on your CPU instead? Well, there are undoubtedly consequences of that action, and of course, it’s not so good. First of all, it will cause your CPU to stop working constantly, which is a very annoying issue. Also, it can cause a failure in the processor’s functionality as well, and you really don’t want it to happen.
Luckily, it’s not that common that your processor will get ruined for putting too much thermal paste on it. Putting it less can do more harm to its performance which is a certain fact. So, if you are not sure about it, you can apply just a tiny bit more to make sure that you don’t run low on it.
However, if you are a complete beginner and don’t know how to apply thermal paste on your CPU, the next segment will be exceptionally helpful for you.
How to Apply Thermal Paste?
You can probably tell how important thermal paste actually is for your CPU’s performance and well-being. And you should have a pretty decent idea about how much paste you need to use on the processor as well. But now, let’s get down to the real business and learn how to apply thermal paste on your CPU.
There are several ways to apply thermal paste on the processor, and it’s up to you whether you want to use any particular one. Let’s check out two of the most effective and commonly used methods down below.
The Strip Method
In this method, you’d have to put the thermal paste on your processor so that it takes a shape of a sausage. It’s super effective as it reduces the chance of an inconsistent burst of paste or such issues.
However, you should always be careful about putting the strip at the sides as it can ooze out of there if you put too much paste. You should remember that the corners and the sides don’t actually do that much for your CPU, and you should be careful putting the paste to a selective area so that it spreads somewhat evenly throughout the surface but doesn’t exceed.
The Dot Method
This is probably the most used method to apply the thermal paste for its simplicity and effectiveness as well. To implement this method, you need to put a small amount of thermal paste on the dead center of the CPU. Make sure not to go for more than the quantity that we discussed in the earlier segments.
Once the paste is in place, take the cooler and place it slowly keeping it as straight as possible. That’ll provide an even spread of the thermal paste, which will enhance the performance and help manage the temperature better as well.
Now that you know all about the use and even the application process of thermal paste, it’s time to check out some tips that’ll help you save from damaging your CPU and get better effectiveness out of the thermal paste.
- The first rule is to never put the thermal paste at the front part of the CPU where there’s a circuit. That might seem like a super obvious thing at this moment, but it can happen if you don’t have any experience applying the thermal paste.
- Speaking of experience, if you don’t have any experience and you are hesitant to do it by yourself, you should always go to a specialist and ask him to help you out on it. That’s a much better choice than damaging any parts of your PC by accident while you’re messing with it.
- You should always go for a good quality thermal paste as it’ll give you much better performance, and also will help to keep your CPU fully functional for longer as well.
- Try to get the job done in the first go. But if you mess up, you can always wipe the paste out and reapply it.
1. Is it better to have too much or too little thermal paste?
When it comes to applying thermal paste, it is important to use the right amount. Both too much and too little thermal paste can lead to issues with heat dissipation and potentially damage the components.
If you use too much thermal paste, it can act as an insulator, trapping heat and reducing the effectiveness of the heat sink. This can lead to higher temperatures and potentially cause damage to the components. In extreme cases, the excess thermal paste can even spill over onto other components and cause electrical shorts.
On the other hand, if you use too little thermal paste, it can lead to gaps between the heat sink and the component, reducing the contact area and potentially causing hot spots that can damage the component.
In general, it is recommended to apply a small amount of thermal paste, usually about the size of a small pea, in the center of the CPU or GPU, and then use a spreading tool or the heat sink itself to evenly distribute the paste over the entire surface of the component. This will help ensure good thermal contact and effective heat dissipation.
2. How long does thermal paste last?
The longevity of thermal paste largely depends on the type of thermal paste, the environment in which it is used, and the conditions under which the system operates.
Most high-quality thermal pastes can last for several years without needing to be replaced. However, over time, the thermal paste can dry out, become brittle, or break down due to exposure to heat and other environmental factors. When this happens, the thermal conductivity of the paste decreases, and it can no longer effectively transfer heat away from the component.
As a general rule of thumb, it is a good idea to replace thermal paste every 2-3 years or whenever you disassemble and reassemble your system. However, if you notice that your CPU or GPU temperatures are higher than usual, or if you experience system crashes or instability, it may be a sign that your thermal paste needs to be replaced sooner.
It is also worth noting that some types of thermal paste, such as liquid metal thermal paste, can have a shorter lifespan and may need to be replaced more frequently. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations for the specific thermal paste you are using to ensure optimal performance and lifespan.
3. Should I scrape off old thermal paste?
Yes, it is generally recommended to remove the old thermal paste before applying the new paste. This is because the old paste may have dried out or become less effective over time, and any remaining residue may affect the performance of the new paste.
To remove the old thermal paste, you can use isopropyl alcohol (at least 90% concentration) and a lint-free cloth or cotton swab. Apply a small amount of alcohol to the cloth or swab and gently wipe away the old thermal paste from the surface of the CPU or GPU and the heat sink. Be careful not to get any alcohol on other components or electrical parts.
Once the old thermal paste has been removed, you should allow the surface to dry completely before applying the new paste. It is also a good idea to inspect the surface for any scratches or damage that may affect heat transfer and to clean the surface again if necessary.
When applying new thermal paste, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations for the specific paste you are using and use an appropriate amount of paste to ensure good thermal contact and optimal heat transfer.
4. Can I use a paper towel to remove the thermal paste?
Using a paper towel to remove thermal paste is not recommended, as it can leave fibers and debris behind that can interfere with the heat transfer between the component and the heat sink.
It is best to use a lint-free cloth or cotton swab, along with high-concentration isopropyl alcohol, to clean off the old thermal paste. Lint-free cloths are made specifically for cleaning electronic components and are designed not to leave any fibers or residue behind. Cotton swabs can also be effective for cleaning hard-to-reach areas, but be careful not to leave any fibers behind.
If you don’t have a lint-free cloth or cotton swab on hand, you can also use coffee filters, which are also designed to be lint-free and can effectively remove thermal paste residue.
Ultimately, the goal is to remove all of the old thermal paste and any debris from the surface of the component and the heat sink before applying new thermal paste, in order to ensure optimal heat transfer and performance.
You just went through a lot of information about thermal paste, and hopefully, you can tell about the right amount by now. Also, you’ve gone over some of the best methods to apply the thermal paste, and you should not have any trouble doing it by yourself.
You see, as underrated, it can be, you can’t deny that it plays a huge role in the performance of your processor. If you don’t apply the paste correctly, you won’t get the full benefit of using even the higher-end processors, which will be a big waste of your money.
In case, you are still confused about how much thermal paste is too much, you should take help from a professional or take the CPU to an electronics center.