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Installing HSF/Removal and Thermal Paste? Clean & Apply each time?

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January 23, 2008 9:37:36 PM

I ordered an e8400 with the gigabye p35-ds3l. I know the new shipments of the board support the e8400 out of the box, but the other bios versions require a bios update. Now here is my question. If I install the e8400 processor with the Heatsink/fan and it does not boot up (hopefully it will! :bounce: ) I have an older Celeron Dprocessor that is socket 775 so it should work with this board. So do I just take off the heatsink/fan, swap the processors, and boot up? Specifically, when the hsf is removed from the CPU, do I need to reapply the thermal paste or not? This is my first build, and this stuff kinda scares me so I'm almost thinking about getting an e6750 instead of the e8400 because that processor is supported out of the box from what i understand.

also, does the retail intel cpu come with the thermal paste already applied? And is it applied just on the heatsink fan, cpu, or both? Thanks!
January 23, 2008 9:39:12 PM

what would you guys honestly recommend? Should I just go with an e6750 or the e8400 so I dont have to worry about using a different processor and mess around with having to apply thermal grease????
todays my birthday so i'm getting ready to place my order with my birthday money once i get some advice on this. any help is appreciated!!
January 23, 2008 9:45:24 PM

It's a very good idea to clean the old paste off and re-apply new but it won't be the end of the World if you don't. Just make sure you don't get dirt on the Paste when transfering.
Applying Paste isn't hard at all. It sounds like you've never done this before and are smart in being careful about delving into something you're not sure of.
When you take the Heatsink off just wipe the old Paste off and make sure you don't put too much back on. The best way to do it is apply a good amount in the center then gently swirl your Finger around spreading it evenly over the entire CPU Cap. Allot say just smash it down with the Heatsink but I like to know its getting on the entire unit.
Just make sure you don't swirl too much and cause Bubbles in the Paste. Do it as smooth as you can and the pressure from the Heatsink will do the rest.

As for some Intel CPU's they come with a Paste Pad or Tube of Paste.
If not then you can get some from just about any electronics store including Radio Shack.

If it where me I'd spend a few Bucks and get some fresh Paste, clean everything up and re-do it.
Whenever I take my Heatsink off for cleaning I replace the Paste as well. Some do, some don't. I just like the idea that I KNOW it's there doing its job.
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January 23, 2008 9:57:02 PM

One other thing.

I've never purchased combos but I'd think that the CPU and Heatsink will have to be put on the M/Board when you unpack it anyway so you'll get your Feet wet so to speak right from the start.

Building your own system is great and just remember when handeling hardware this Time of Year make sure you're grounded or ground yourself good before touching any of the hardware, especially the CPU and RAM Sticks.

Welcome to build your own! :) 
January 23, 2008 9:57:23 PM

I'd clean the heatsink with rubbing alcohol after removing old thermal grease, and never ever could I rub the new stuff with my finger - our fingertips are quite greasy, and though you won't see it with a naked eye - touching the heatsink will leave a relatively (relatively!) thick layer of the aforementioned secretion.
like said above- you want the thinnest possible layer of thermal compound possible.
January 23, 2008 10:09:25 PM

I should have stated not to touch the components, just the grease, sorry about that and I wouldn't suggest rubbing alcohol either as it contains small amounts of Oil. de-natured Alcohol is the best for cleaning components.

No, you never want to touch the Top of the CPU nor the Heatsink Plate with your Fingers but I always spread the Grease with my Finger after cleaning it with Alcohol and have never had a problem. I just don't like the idea of letting the Heatsink do the job of spreading the compound because you run the risk of having a dead spot.
You could take something like a clean never used Pencil eraser and use it to spread the Grease if you feel better, never use a Q-Tip to do it though.
January 24, 2008 12:06:19 AM

You shouldn't use your finger or an unused pencil eraser to spread it...

There are two ways you should spread it:

1) If you want the hands on approach ... spread with your finger, but put a plastic carrier bag over your hand first so the natural greases from your skin (and dead skin cells) aren't included in the paste when you're done.

2) This is the better way. Get a credit card or similar plastic card from your wallet you don't mind getting dirty temporarily and clean it using alcohol (95% purity or better). Place some thermal gunk on the centre of the heatsink and spread it using the edge of the credit card ... this way you can get a very good, even, thin layer.

However, before doing either of these make sure you clean the surfaces of the CPU heatspreader and the base of the heatsink. Do this by using alcohol (95% or better) and a lint-free cloth (like the cloth you get with glasses or with lense cleaners).
January 24, 2008 12:10:52 AM

Hey nforce,

You will find that the heatsink that comes with your cpu will have a "pad" of thermal grease already applied to the bottom of it - the stuff is fairly thick with a consistency like putty. Make sure you don't touch it with your fingers at all. If you are just quickly swapping out the cpu for another to update the bios you should be ok to whack the heatsink on without applying any extra grease.

However... after you've sorted your bios I would strongly reccomend that you then clean off and reapply fresh TIM grease - order some AS5 or better yet Shin Etsu when you get the rest of your bits.

Applying thermal paste isn't difficult, it just pays to take your time and do it right first time. I always use the same method regardless of manufacturers instructions and I use AS5 (cuz I got a big tube of it hangin around). My method:

Clean away the old grease, I use 100% isopropyl alcohol which is sold in spray cans at maplins here in the UK but stateside I think you want radioshak. I have also used Akasa TIM clean which is specially formulated for the job and is non toxic (it uses limonene from citrus fruits!) and works really well. Ensure to clean both the cpu and the HS, use a lint free cloth for this.

Apply your chosen TIM grease to the cpu ( I do this before I drop it into the socket - much easier). Use a blob about the size of a grain of rice right in the middle of the CPU.

I then use an old credit card wiped clean with the isoprop - sorry Kentucky but I would never use a finger no matter how clean for this - to spread the TIM so that it covers the entire surface of the IHS in a very thin and even layer - take your time to get it as perfectly flat and even as possible.

Ensure non of the paste has got anywhere it shouldn't be, if so wipe it off.

Next, whack the CPU into the socket and seat the heatsink as directed - ensure that it is properly secured (the intel HS has notoriously crappy fixings).

That's it .

Alternatively, if using AS5, check their website for the "foolproof" method (which I believe does not yield the best results, but works ok).
January 24, 2008 1:19:51 AM

Well, I just ordered the e8400 a few hours ago along with the Gigabyte p35-ds3l mobo.

There's one thing I'm still confused about. Does the thermal grease need to be applied to BOTH the hsf and cpu? Benzene, you pointed out how to apply it to the CPU. However, you also said the stock HSF comes with some already. Now my question is, does it need to be applied to BOTH the HSF and cpu? And also, when I remove it with asopropyl alcohol, I take it off BOTH the cpu and hsf, right?

Thanks for all the help guys!
January 24, 2008 1:42:46 AM

When you apply NEW paste just do it to the cpu, but yes - be sure and clean both the cpu and the HS.

Intel pre-apply the paste to the heatsink and that is sufficient i.e. you dont need any extra on the cpu - they dont stick it on the cpu because it would cover all the markings and make it look crap ;)  Be aware - there is a bit of see through plastic covering the paste on the HS, be sure to remove it!
January 24, 2008 1:45:08 AM

No, just one side and it should be the CPU Cap, that way you're getting it to cover what really counts.

Like the posts state the unit should come with thermal paste but if you want better heat transfer get some good after market stuff.

I really like the idea of using a Credit Card but the problem with that is the Card's too wide. If you're really feeling anal like some and don't want to touch anything then get a cheap Box of rubber Gloves and just remember that a little dab will do it.
Don't gunk it on becayse the more space you create between the 2 surfaces will actualy hinder heat transfer. Just a nice thin layer, just enough to cover the lettering will do.
The idea of thermal paste is to increase the heat transfer evenly, you could just put them together without it but you'd have hot spots where the 2 metal plates aren't making a good mechanical connection, that's where the Paste comes in to help and you don't need much to get the job done right.
January 24, 2008 4:37:19 AM

Perfect article and exellent Photos as well.
As it shows, when you use the dolop method the material doesn't get spred out like it should causing hot spots on the outside of the CPU Cap.
The one Photo is exellent showing how the compound is spread evenly over the entire Cap before placing the Heatsink on it, Follow this example and you'll be fine.

As I said before, Heatsink Paste is used to create the best mechanical connection by filling in those imperfections between the 2 components.
Too much and you start creating a barrier instead of a connection thus causing an insulation effect to occur and actualy limit the cooling capabilities of the Heatsink.

Another exellent point to the article is electric conductivity of some pastes. It's not as crucial on CPU's but when you start slathering Paste like Arctic Silver on Northbridge Chipsets you can ruin a Motherboard in a big hurry because the Pins are located on the Side of the Chip instead of underneath.

As for the type to get I'd recomend just about any that are high quality like Arctic Silver. I used OCZ Ultra on my build and it's really done a great job in helping the Heatsink do its job but I wouldn't use it on other components because it contains Silver and like I said before it would ruin a Chip if it came into contact with the Pins on the Side. They do make exellent Thermal Paste that is non conductive for such applications just in case you want to do some other work on your Rig in the future.
January 24, 2008 5:20:22 AM

1786618,8,133933 said:

I then use an old credit card wiped clean with the isoprop - sorry Kentucky but I would never use a finger no matter how clean for this - to spread the TIM so that it covers the entire surface of the IHS in a very thin and even layer - take your time to get it as perfectly flat and even as possible.
said:


No offence taken Benzene. :pt1cable: 
I guess I'm just too old and don't take the Time to do it the way it should be done, LOL!
All I know is that most of the methods like the Dollip, 3 Line and in one artilce I read a long Time ago placing a Dot in the middle then a Square around the edge of the Cap just doesn't work.
The Paste is filling in the Microscopic Pores within the 2 materials, hopefully they're both level because then you'd have a big problem.

Another issue is making sure the cleaning fluid is as pure as possible.
Rubbing Alcohol is the last thing I'd use to clean electronics of any kind.
The best Cleaning fluid I've found is Clear Vodka, yes Vodka. It's more pure than denatured Alcohol because it doesn't have anything added to it to keep People from drinking it, LOL!
It also leaves no residue because it's pure Alcohol.
Just make sure it's the good kind, not the crap in a Plasic Bottle, LOL!
Anyway, that's my secret to cleaning electronics Parts and it's worked for me over 20 Years.

I don't think I'd trust any Citris cleaners because of the nature they're made. Maybe some work well but the Orange cleaners I've used on things other than electronics leave a really bad residue because of the oil in the Citris Acid, not to mention it really does bad things to plastic.

January 24, 2008 12:17:12 PM

Vodka? I personally wouldn't ... too much water content.

My normal practices for cleaning normally revolve around doing initial cleaning with an alcohol based deoderant to loosen what thermal paste is left on the surface (whether CPU or HSF, doesn't matter - i just don't like to waste my IPA) and then follow up by cleaning with isopropyl alcohol which came in a lense cleaning kit, repeating it until I#m satisfied it's properly clean (normally 3 times).

Sometimes, if I'm removing the HSF from the case (normally for the purpose of lapping or getting ALL the dust out from the fins) i'll even use fairy washing up liquid ... really cuts through most thermal pastes. Naturally i'll clean it afterwards with IPA, once i'm ready to re-install it.
January 24, 2008 12:29:00 PM

@kentucky ranger...

Vodka as cleaning fluid? Where I come from, that's considered Alcohol Abuse! :p 
January 25, 2008 9:56:19 PM

LOL! Sleepy, I only use it when I can't find good denatured Alcohol.

Being a professional Photographer as well as electronics tinkerer and old fart, I never have and never would vse isopropyl alcohol to clean my Lenses nor electronics because it contains oils that not only prohibit drinking but to keep ones Skin from drying out. It's not much but it is enough to leave residue.

Those cheap Lens cleaning kits you get at the store are great, if you throw out the cleaning solution. The Brushes and cloths are good for cleaning but forget the solution.

This anal attitude tward cleaning and installing Heatsinks is just over the Top IMHO. All the Paste does is fill in the microscopic flaws in all Metal surfaces. You can polish all Day long and get the surface looking like a Mirror but ther will still be flaws and actually you make it worse polishing because you fill in the microscopic gaps with whatever polishing compund you're using thus impeding the Heatsink compound from filling the gaps instead.

As for using your Finger to spread Heatsink compound lets get real. The only part of the compound getting oil from your Finger is the small prtion that stays with your Finger, not what stays on the CPU Cap.
If you're using your Finger so much that you're mixing oils from your Finger then you're doing it wrong. You just lightly spread the compound, not mush it and mix it up on the Cap.
As many Computers as I've worked on and the nuber of Times I've taken Heatsinks off to clean them, which is so many Times I wish I had a Nickle for every instance, I've never had issues with contaminated Heatsink compound.

I don't make fun of People who take all the precautions that have been suggested. If you want to do it by the Book then great, but honestly, in the Years I've done this I've never had issues installing or replacing Heatsink compound.

Now if you go the opposite and wrecklessly handle components then you'll be in for trouble like handeling CPU's and Cards without taking precautions to isolate static electricity or not properly cleaning Sockets before plugging new harware into old systems.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to do it right. If you want to use a credit Card or wear Rubber Gloves then great, go for it. I used to be that anal and then some. I still use a spray Bottle full of Water to spray down the area I'm working in as well as use a static Wrist Strap when going inside any Case and I always make sure my Hands are clean and dry before even handeling such things as CPU's, RAM Sticks and video Cars etc. I'd say one thing I might try nex Time I clean the CPU Heatsink are those little Finger Gloves. They're cheap and you're only covering the Finger you're using. (Insert Joke here)
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