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Thermal Paste Application Question

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June 22, 2010 5:51:34 AM

Alright so tomorrow I will be building my new core i7 machine. I am using AC MX-2 thermal compound and a Zalman 120mm heatsink. What I was wondering is 2 things. Firstly do you guys prefer the blob or line methods of application and does the i7 tend to perform better with one? Second I have been trying to find a good picture or video to show where the cores of the i7 are located so I can apply the thermal paste in the optimal location. Thanks for the help!
a c 103 à CPUs
June 22, 2010 6:01:16 AM

afaik the optimal location is 100% coverage of the top of the chip, so thin its all but see-through, depending on which Hs you have would possibly dictate line application as some apparently 'work' better using lines as opposed to blob method.
hope this helps a little, no other replies yet :( 
Moto
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June 22, 2010 6:33:01 AM

Heatsink is the Zalman CNPS9900A LED 120mm. Thanks again.
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June 22, 2010 2:01:53 PM

Just keep in mind that the purpose of thermal paste is to fill in the microscopic gaps (which would otherwise be air gaps) between the cpu and the heatsink. It is not supposed to be the mayo in a sandwich. As Motopsychojdn says, 100% initial coverage so thin it's all but see through. Everyone seems to have their favorite method. Mine is a BB size blob on the cpu, spread out to 100% coverage with my finger inside a plastic sandwich bag. I repeat with the heatsink. Squeeze-out is minimal and temps are always good (normal).
The video shows 2 examples:
Stock Intel paste application is way too much. There is no place where metal to metal contact gets made, yet it still does work.
The other example has so little paste that it looks like it was cleaned off before the video was made!
I do not recommend "testing" since adding air bubbles defeats the whole purpose of what you are doing. Chances are that if you can get paste applied between the 2 extreme examples shown that all will be just fine.
Just my 2 cents...
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a b à CPUs
June 22, 2010 3:08:23 PM

Plastic bag method (as mentioned by Newf) works pretty good. You can also use the plastic putty knife method and spread the TIM real thin. Personally, I use a pallet knife (the kind you use for oil painting) or a razor blade to spread the TIM to the desired thinness, but then, I have a VERY steady hand. Remember, with TIM, less is best. Any bigger than a grain of rice or a small pea, and you are using too much.
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June 23, 2010 7:54:28 AM

How do you guys feel about applying some on top of the processor, then running a razor blade on top wiping most of it off, near clean, and repeating with the contact area of the heat sink and then connecting them? According to the "less is more" mindset with this, wouldn't that fill in the microscopic holes and leave enough so that it can stick to the heat sink surface? This would have a minimal amount of paste between the two surfaces, and have these holes filled. Or do you actually need to have some substance in between the two?
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a b à CPUs
June 23, 2010 9:18:46 AM

Blob in the middle and add pressure is my preferred method. Distribution is even, air pockets are avoided (spreading with your finger can add air) and excess is squeezed out. i used to paint it on a good half millimetre thick :) 
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June 23, 2010 5:02:23 PM

JulianSidewind said:
How do you guys feel about applying some on top of the processor, then running a razor blade on top wiping most of it off, near clean, and repeating with the contact area of the heat sink and then connecting them? According to the "less is more" mindset with this, wouldn't that fill in the microscopic holes and leave enough so that it can stick to the heat sink surface? This would have a minimal amount of paste between the two surfaces, and have these holes filled. Or do you actually need to have some substance in between the two?

That will also work.
Notice how many different ways there are to do this that all work?
The only reason you need more than the smallest amounts of paste mentioned would be IF the mating surfaces are warped, curved or otherwise not flat.
Then no matter what you do with the paste, cooling will not be "normal".
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June 23, 2010 7:27:32 PM

i agree with randomizer blob technique is best IMO
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a b à CPUs
June 24, 2010 1:22:41 AM

It's TIM-dependent which is "best." There's no one-size-fits-all method. You should follow the instructions given by the manufacturer.
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