My CPU and new parts are due to arrive Thursday. I have been dreading one process, and that is installing the CPU into the Motherboard and then installing the Heatsink + Thermal Paste onto the CPU. (This is my first build, please excuse my extreme noobness, I'm just psyching myself out because of all the stories of people ruining everything during this process)
I had a few questions:
Is it easy to tell exactly how the chip goes into the MoBo? (I don't want to put it in like backwards)
When applying the thermal paste, I think I'm going to use the line method, how do I know where to apply the line? How do I know where exactly the four cores are situated so I can put it in between the rows? (I bought a Core 2 Quad Q9550 and the Sunbeam Heatsink)
What happens if I apply too little Thermal Paste? How will I know if I did?
Your CPU will already come with paste on it, unless you bought it OEM. I'd use the stock cooler first and check your temps before anything else. You'll know if your CPU is sitting in wrong, because it simply wont go in.
just follow the manual for installing your cpu and you should be fine, it does a straightforward job of explaining things. If you did get an aftermarket cooler then you can go to arctic silvers website and it will give you some a guide to using the line method to apply the thermal paste. Follow that and it should prove to be a sinch!
As for applying to little paste with an aftermarket cooler, that rarely ever happens, its much more likely too put too much on. However to tell if you put too much or too little you can simply check the temps using your bios or a temp monitor program (such as real temp) and compare it to what the temps are supposed to look like (probably idling in the 20s or 30s). If they are in the 40s + then something was probably done wrong. But as Fwertz said if you are just using the stock heatsink then you shouldn't have anything to worry about because it comes with Thermal Paste already applied.
Because this type of design contacts the Heat Pipes directly to the CPU heat spreader, the contact surface is not uniform and is unable to properly spread the thermal paste across the surface of the CPU.
According to the directions, Here, from the product page, Here, you should spread a layer of thermal paste evenly across the surface of the CPU's heat spreader with a knife, credit card or similar straight edged tool.
Alternatively, you could apply a very small bead of thermal paste across each heat pipe and allow the mounting pressure to spread it across and into the valley's between them.
As it seems you will be given a large tube of thermal paste, I would recommend test installing it several times then uninstalling it to check the spread of thermal paste.
Make sure to thoroughly clean with either Artic Silver Surface Purifier or a high percentage rubbing alcohol and a clean, lint free rag between each application.
Doing it this way will let you install the minimal amount of thermal paste required to ensure full contact with the CPU's heat spreader.
After you have the Hs installed, make sure to keep an eye on the temps using first the BIOS then Coretemp after installing Windows.
If the temps go above 45c at idle (and it realy should be a little lower), remove, clean and reinstall the thermal paste again to lower the temps.