Replaced my hard drives, now CPU temp is very high

Hi everyone,

I have a bit of a weird issue. Here is my setup (been running great since late 2011):

Gigabyte ga-p67a-ud5 motherboard
Core i7 2600k
Tuniq Tower 120 Extreme CPU heatsink/cooler (with included TX-3 paste)
Evga GTX 580 SSC
8GB (2x4GB) Corsair Ripjaws
2 80mm intake fans (front of case)/1 80mm intake fan (on the side)
2 80mm exhaust fans (on the back)
Kinwin Lazer 1000 watt PSU

I decided it was time to upgrade my (3) hard drives for more space (80GB Intel x25 SSD --> 240GB Intel 520 series SSD, 1TB WD Green --> 2TB WD Green, 300GB WD Velociraptor --> 1TB WD Velociraptor). Unfortunately I could not take my hard drive bays out without removing the Tuniq cooler (exactly what I was trying to avoid). So after a few days of procrastinating (I had everything copied from my old storage drives to the new drives for about a week) I decided to take of the cooler and replace the hard drives.

I took a paper towel and rubbing alcohol to to clean the heatsink and CPU, applied a little of the TX-3 paste to the CPU and used a piece of plastic from a sandwich bag on my finger to spread the paste around the CPU (VERY thin was pretty much transparent). The first time I mounted the cooler, I used a credit card to spread the paste, so this was a bit different. Plugged everything in, and being obsessive compulsive, the first thing I did was go into the BIOS to check the CPU temperature...idling between 50 and 55 C (obviously way too high). Previously in the BIOS idle CPU temp would be ~40C, which I was fine with.

Thinking there is a "break in" period for the TX-3, I let my PC run (in BIOS) for several hours...came back and checked the CPU temp, and no change. This was yesterday...

Today I decided I would install Windows and load Prime95 and a temperature monitoring program as I read that sometimes the BIOS isn't very reliable for idle temps as the CPU may have a slightly higher voltage. Installed Windows, no problem (but I first set my BIOS CPU warning at 80C).

For giggles, the first thing I did after Windows/video card drivers were installed was run WEI to see what improvement I would get over my previous SSD, and see if my CPU would report the same rating. Let that run while I went into the bedroom to download Prime95 and the temp monitor on my laptop. While I wasin the bedroom...I heard a loud buzzing noise from my CPU (figured this was my BIOS/CPU alarm). Installed Prime95 and the temp monitor (can't recall which one I used), and loaded the temp mon. Idle temps were around 30 - 35 degrees (all cores) - which I thought was normal. Started the first Prime95 test...within seconds my CPU temps jumped up to 80C, then got to 90C before I could stop the test.

So (I'll apologize now for the incredibly long post)...I'm assuming that the problem is either:

a) Not enough thermal paste (as I mentioned, it was nearly transparent...I could just barely see the writing on the core)
b) Heatsink was not seated properly (1155/Tuniq was a royal PITA to install)...but I'm certain all 4 screws were very tight, and I wiggled the cooler to make sure it was not loose (my mobo was moving so I know it could not have been loose)
c) Thermal paste may have "expired" (not likely, however, this is all I got)

I don't think it is an airflow issue as my "case temp" according to bios is low 30'sC. No other components were changed in my rig aside from the hard drives (the only other major change was removing/re-seating the heatsink for the first time in almost 2 years).

I am getting ready to order some Arctic MX4 (since I know I probably need to take off the cooler, clean the old paste, blah blah blah, I may as well try something new).

Is it possible that I legitimately used not enough paste? I always thought "less is better", but I watched a few videos on youtube, and there was a relatively thick coat on all CPUs I saw.

What is the preferred method of applying thermal paste here? Now that I've tried spreading without luck (when I built my rig in 2011, this was the first non-stock fan I used, therefore, the first time I had to manually apply TIM), should I try to just put a glob in the middle, or use the "X" method (which is what I was going for)? Apparently most of the head is in the center, so I may not need to worry about covering the entire thing (and this would be MUCH simpler)...

Has anyone had any similar experiences? Maybe I just got unlucky? I'm dreading having to take the cooler off again...but I'm nervous about having the PC run with those temps.

Any feedback would be very much appreciated.

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  1. Best answer
    you didnt install the heatsink correctly. first thing to try is to tighten that thing down pretty good. tighter is normally better. if that doesnt help take it off clean it again WITH CLOTH. paper towels are wood and will scratch a mirror finish. once clean put a small dab the size of a bb or a little smaller in the middle of the cpu. then put the heatsink back on and tighten it down. there should be no reason to spread the thermal past yourself. the pressure from mounting the heatsink will spread it.
  2. I'm not sure I agree with NOT spreading the paste yourself. I've never heard that before.

    It's possible to have TOO MUCH paste. You want the MINIMUM paste to cover the area.

    1) Clean with isopropyl alcohol
    2) Ensure no paper towel particles on surface
    3) pea-sized heatsink material
    4) spread with credit card or similar (quickly but evenly)
    5) Ensure main center area covered, just barely, and definitely not thickly.
    6) Make sure Heatsink is mounted correctly (in many cases you CROSS-THREAD as you attach it)
    7) Make sure FAN CONTROL is working (enabled in BIOS and motherboard software in Windows).

    *Fans must be proper type. Fans are PWM or Voltage. If the motherboard CPU_FAN is 4-pin it probably expects a PWM fan. If so, VOLTAGE FANS will work, but have no speed control unless the motherboard supports BOTH types. If it can't control the fan, it just spins at one high speed.
  3. there is no need to use a credit card or anything to spread the paste, you are just increasing the risk of an air pocket.. also a pea is rather large, the amount is more the size of a bb if not smaller.
  4. Thanks everybody for the replies! I did order the arctic paste last night, so I think I am going to wait until I receive it before I take everything apart again and give it another go. The weird thing is I did in fact cross screw (or thread) the heatsink down...and it was tight (screws were tighter than when I did it the first time).

    I will try the cloth/alcohol cleaning method this time as opposed to a paper towel (again my first time actually cleaning a cpu and manually applying the grease, as opposed to using the stock, already lubed fan). Hopefully I did not damage it!

    I am pretty sure I am not going to spread again...just to rule this out as a problem. So is the single dot in the center method better than the 'x' method? I know there will be a million different answers, and I've seen people who say each application is 'the best' only concern is I know the entire thing will not be covered.

    Thanks again for the feedback!
  5. So I received the mx4 today...unless anyone has input re: dot method vs x method, I will try the dot method this weekend and post results.

    Edit: I finally got around to this today...working 11 and 12 hour days and shark week have kept me busy :-)

    Cleaned the cpu and fan with a coffee filter and rubbing alcohol, applied a pea sized amount of the mx4 right in the middle, put the heat sink on nice and tight...bios is reporting cores between 27 and 32 degrees idle! Now running cooler than before I took everything out.

    I am going to let it run over night just to burn in the paste, and will try running prime tomorrow (not declaring victory yet, but this seems positive). Will report load temps soon.

    Edit Aug 8: woke up this morning and bios showed max 35/36 core temps. Started windows tonight and was idling between 28 and 34 degrees. Windows experience index did not get the cpu temp over 54 degrees. Ran prime 95 for a few minutes and cpu temps did not exceed 64 degrees. At this point I think I'm good...thanks everyone for the input. Any comments on results would still be appreciated. Thanks!
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