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Thermal Paste Required?

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March 17, 2010 5:42:29 PM

Feel silly asking this build question but can't figure it out!

For the following motherboard and CPU, is thermal paste required? The CPU comes with stock heatsink/fan but no thermal paste. Intel CPU manual doesn't mention thermal paste at all. However, the motherboard manual does mention thermal paste.

SUPERMICRO MBD-X8SAX-O LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Core i7 Server Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.aspx?Item=N82E168... (audio)

Intel Xeon W3550 Bloomfield 3.066GHz 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Server Processor - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Thanks so much!

More about : thermal paste required

a c 77 V Motherboard
March 17, 2010 6:15:22 PM

Yes, thermal paste is required for EVERY CPU. The stock heat-sink will come with thermal paste pre-applied. You don't need to buy thermal paste unless you are using an aftermarket HSF.
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a b V Motherboard
March 17, 2010 6:26:02 PM

Agree. To make sure, see what the CPU installation instructions say. If it just says to mount the HSF, then it already has thermal paste applied.

I have a slightly different opinion about thermal paste for aftermarket HSF. Unless you're trying for a massive overclock or the HSF doesn't come with paste pre-applied, you don't need to buy thermal paste. Special pastes don't really do a whole lot (I believe some of the best are only 4 degrees cooler), so they're not really worth it until you're pushing the absolute boundary of what the CPU can handle.
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a c 77 V Motherboard
March 17, 2010 6:30:02 PM

I mentioned buying thermal paste with an aftermarket HSF because some don't come with thermal paste. If the cooler comes with thermal paste, MadAdmiral is right. The nice thermal paste like MX-2 will only drop the temp by a couple degrees. I have a bunch of MX-2 in my stash of building equipment, so I always replace the stock thermal paste with it, but it's not required.
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March 17, 2010 7:03:44 PM

Thank you, thank you! Nowhere have I read of thermal paste being pre-applied so that's great to know. Yes - the Intel manual says to simply insert the CPU and then mount the HSF. Good to go!
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a c 148 V Motherboard
March 17, 2010 10:32:59 PM

Granted, I've only bought two Intel CPUs and both were retail (came with stock HSFs). Both HSFs came with thermal paste pre-applied and neither has caused an issue.

-Wolf sends
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a b V Motherboard
March 17, 2010 11:54:50 PM

Use your common sense, though... check to see if there's any thermal compound on the HSF before you stick it on there. It should be fairly obvious... I could be wrong, but if you don't see any, than that should tell you that there probably isn't any pre-applied. This should probably hold true unless Intel either came out with invisible thermal compound, or they used so little of it that you can't even see it. I highly doubt that either of those are the case. :) 

Just my $0.02 on that...
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March 25, 2010 2:44:37 AM

Good advice - wish I'd had this information before slapping in the CPU. Would be nice if Intel mentioned once sentance along these lines to ensure it's crystal clear for the customer.
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