I7 & thermal paste - am I understanding this right?

Hey guys,

I am trying to apply some thermal paste to my i7 920 processor, and will be using a CoolerMaster V8 heatsink. However, after reading multiple posts on these forums as well as in other places, I am still not 100% sure of the steps. One place says that I should only do a single line across the chip:

Another says that I shouldn't even have to completely spread out the thermal paste in certain cases, as the heatsink will spread it out for me:

"There's actually no need to even spread out the thermal paste on the heatsink's base before installing the stock cooler. This is because the three strips are designed to spread out equally and completely cover the base when the cooler is installed.

If you are using a third-party cooler with a much larger heatsink base, first determine which has a larger surface area - the heatsink base or the CPU heatspreader. It is a good idea to only apply enough thermal paste to cover the actual contact area and avoid applying to surfaces that will not come into contact."


Now this is referring to the stock cooler, but I am unsure if this same logic should be applied to other heatsinks.

Then there's this thread: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/250279-29-properly-applying-thermal-paste

"I used to just put a small amount on the center and have the heatsink spread it out, but I find that I usually get better results by spreading it myself. "

"I find my school's library printer card works best for me for spreading the thermal paste, just get a nice good THIN even amount on the heatsink, eyeball it and cut off the excess, than mount it. Works for me and I have no complaints."

It says that there are multiple ways to apply it, including putting a single dot in the center, and letting the heatsink spread it out itself, again. Then, there is the technique of spreading it out yourself, and cutting off the excess. What entails an excess? Is that any that is falling over the edges? The first time I applied the paste, I completely covered the processor's surface that touches the heatsink, and it worked out alright, but upon reapplying it later, I had bad results.

And finally, there is this thread: http://forums.guru3d.com/showthread.php?t=284229

"[F]or Quad core CPU (C2Q - i7) they recommend a straight thin line of compound across the center of the chip with the triangle mark pointing down and to the left....Horizontally for a C2Q and vertically for an i7.

For my part i always used the rice grain technique (right in the center of the chip) since single core CPU (Heatspreader) to i7 and i never had any issue and no overheating."

So, this thread once again says that either a rice grain technique (so, literally the amount equal to a rice grain?) or a straight line across the center of the chip will apparently work.

What method should I be using? Is there a consensus, now, for the i7? Any advice would be appreciated. I'd love to get it right once and for all :)

3 answers Last reply
More about thermal paste understanding right
  1. Look at your stock cooler's thermal paste spread. Copy that as you use something thin like credit card to flatten them out.
  2. core i7 ownage said:
    Look at your stock cooler's thermal paste spread. Copy that as you use something thin like credit card to flatten them out.

    Thanks for your reply!

    I'm actually not using the stock cooler, but instead using an aftermarket CoolerMaster V8. Its surface area is roughly equal to the entire surface of the chip. So, should I be completely spreading the paste across the whole chip surface?

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