It's been a while since I built a pc and I dont really remember every step I took...
When applying thermal paste to the cpu, I know you completley cover the cpu with a light coat, but do you put a light coat, covering the bottom of the cpu cooler? I will not be using a stock cooler. Im using a cooler master hyper 512.
you want to put a small drop in the middle and let the CPU cooler push it out so that it ends up covering the CPU, the light coat needs to be super thin. Too much thermal paste will actually hurt heat transfer.
A lot has to do with what type and brand of thermal paste you are using. If you are using Arctic Silver 5 on an AMD quad core, you put the equivalent of a bb sized amount directly on the middle of the top of the cpu and them press the heatsink on it. Once you put it on, move the heatsink slightly from side to side and that is it. On an Intel quad core, you put a line in the middle and that is it.
I have applied it many different ways and Arctic is very specific on their website about how much and where to apply it.
Kinda like a peanut butter sandwich (a very lean one) ...
The main thing to avoid is having any squirt out when you clamp the cooler on.
The short answer is "NO", you do not apply the gunk to both sides of the sandwich. ... I use a flat utility razor and (with a syringe) I "draw" a thin, squarish, doughnut/bead about half way between the center and the edge of the CPU chip ... then, I use the razor blade (the flat-back variety) to coax and wipe the bead into a smooth layer, about like a single coat of interior latex, so that it covers the whole middle, but does not come closer than 20% (~25%) to the edge of the "pin package" (the CPU "proper" only occupies < the center centimeterof the larger pin/wafer substrate). ...
ALSO! ... Some cooling plates come with a "convenient" (tacky) greyish coating of thermal conductive "paste" which looks like teflon, or like a lotto scratch-off ....
... I remove (carefully razor-scrape) this "grattis gunk" from the cooler before I apply paste to the CPU package. Do one, or the other, but not both! If you know what you are doing, or if you really are going to over-clock, then scrape the "EZ cote" and lay down your own (juicier) coating of quality thermal compound.
... Again ... "too much" is the greater crime ... messy, at best.
I have coached several of my Pals, on this (directly) and, I always set up two bright lights, on a large clean desk/table (no shadows) ... a clean, old tee-shirt and a few razors, business card, paper towel (not fuzzy). Magnifying glass ... etc.
Also a good setup for thos crappy case manuals and recessed system jumpers and headers.
Inserting the CPU (into the socket) and thermal paste are the only truly touchy operations, for the first few builds. Perfection is just fine. No rush? Right?
You can carefully wipe off any excess and start over, if need be .. just do not let that goo get into the socket or the socket gap, traces, pins, etc.