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How long until the thermal paste should be replaced?

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July 1, 2010 8:59:29 PM

How often do you re-do the thermal paste on components in your system? Should it be done every couple of years to prevent it from 'Drying out'?
a b à CPUs
July 1, 2010 9:09:40 PM

There is no need to reapply it at all. Once its on that its.

The only time you need to reapply it is when you remove and replace the heatsink for whatever reason.

Just incase you don't know the Thermal Interface Material or 'TIM' is there only to fill the 'void' between the CPU heat spreader and the bottom of the heatsink to make better thermal contact. As neither are entirely smooth, its not visable to the naked eye however.
It is not a lubrication issue of keeping it 'wet', infact quite the opposite a heatsink that is stuck down to the heat spreader is a good sign the TIM is doing its job.

Hope that helps,

Craig
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July 1, 2010 9:20:34 PM

As a rule of thumb I have always reapplied thermal paste after 2 years. This hasn't ever been too much of an issue as I don't think I've kept any one system in a untouched functioning state for that period of time (ie: upgrading).

It also heavily matters on the type of paste used. You should be able to look up the recommended life and reapplication period for most thermal compounds used. It might be a little more difficult to find for the enthusiast marketed brands, its generally easier to find such information for commercial products (as this information is generally a large factor in the value of the product).

So to the short of it, 2 years for a good application is generally acceptable.

~MG~
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a b à CPUs
July 1, 2010 9:26:18 PM

MadGoat1979 said:
As a rule of thumb I have always reapplied thermal paste after 2 years. This hasn't ever been too much of an issue as I don't think I've kept any one system in a untouched functioning state for that period of time (ie: upgrading).

It also heavily matters on the type of paste used. You should be able to look up the recommended life and reapplication period for most thermal compounds used. It might be a little more difficult to find for the enthusiast marketed brands, its generally easier to find such information for commercial products (as this information is generally a large factor in the value of the product).

So to the short of it, 2 years for a good application is generally acceptable.

~MG~


I disagree, the whole point of TIM is to make the thermal contact between the CPU and heatsink better. It doesn't go 'off' nor does it dry out.

Hell I've got a PC built in 1998 sat in front of me now still working with its original TIM, and it still works.

And I can bet a heck of a lot of PCs in the world used by 'normal' users don't ever think about it, and have no problems.

I say if theres no issues, don't bother!
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July 1, 2010 9:51:30 PM

icraig said:
I disagree, the whole point of TIM is to make the thermal contact between the CPU and heatsink better. It doesn't go 'off' nor does it dry out.

Hell I've got a PC built in 1998 sat in front of me now still working with its original TIM, and it still works.

And I can bet a heck of a lot of PCs in the world used by 'normal' users don't ever think about it, and have no problems.

I say if theres no issues, don't bother!



I do agree with "If it aint broke, dont fix it".

But this topic is heavily dependent on the compound in question.

For example, many thermal compounds use a dissolved silver compound for its great conductive properties. BUT, Silver does tarnish (oxidize) and will loose its conductivity over time.


On the other hand there are silicone based thermal compounds that will separate and migrate over time and cause air gaps between components.

There are many compounds that can be used for a permanent solution and do not migrate or oxidize and many OEMs use these to ensure proper longer term functionality.

Although as i said before, most "enthusiast" marketed compounds are geared towards performance not longevity.

icraig, I do agree to your stance don't get me wrong. Bottom line, if you want to be sure you are getting the best cooling performance... go ahead and replace it. But if your not having any issues and don't feel inclined, no harm no foul. ;) 

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Anonymous
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July 1, 2010 10:16:49 PM

I replace the TIM when the heatsink comes off, which is when the cpu gets moved, which is pretty often in my house, i am always tinkering, and this new Crosshairs IV s lovely to tinker with!

No hard and fast rule though, just keep regular eye on temps, if they climb above average and its not the hottest day on record, start checking everything!
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a b à CPUs
July 1, 2010 11:24:47 PM

Its very simple, if your temperatures are fine then everything is working fine..the phrase "if it ain't broken then don't fix it"...is 1000000% true in this case.
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a b à CPUs
July 2, 2010 8:21:12 AM

Anonymous said:
I replace the TIM when the heatsink comes off, which is when the cpu gets moved, which is pretty often in my house, i am always tinkering, and this new Crosshairs IV s lovely to tinker with!

No hard and fast rule though, just keep regular eye on temps, if they climb above average and its not the hottest day on record, start checking everything!

Rather then the paste its more than likely that temps would be going up with dust ingress into the fans and heatsink I find.
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Anonymous
a b à CPUs
July 2, 2010 10:06:26 AM

If you have dust problems, use dust filters, they are fantastic at keeping your maintainence schedule down, also get one of those hand pump weed sprayers (new) and use it as portable compressed air, works a treat!
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a b à CPUs
July 2, 2010 7:38:39 PM

icraig said:
There is no need to reapply it at all. Once its on that its.
icraig said:
It doesn't go 'off' nor does it dry out.
Thermal paste, depending on the brand, does in fact "go off" and needs to reapplied after some time. AS5 is a fanboy favorite that does in fact dry out and does in fact need to be reapplied. Regardless of what brand you use, be sure to read the manufacturers documentation.

MadGoat1979 said:
But this topic is heavily dependent on the compound in question.

For example, many thermal compounds use a dissolved silver compound for its great conductive properties. BUT, Silver does tarnish (oxidize) and will loose its conductivity over time.

On the other hand there are silicone based thermal compounds that will separate and migrate over time and cause air gaps between components.

There are many compounds that can be used for a permanent solution and do not migrate or oxidize and many OEMs use these to ensure proper longer term functionality.

Although as i said before, most "enthusiast" marketed compounds are geared towards performance not longevity.
I agree 100% with these statements.



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July 3, 2010 2:15:32 PM

Thanks for the replies. I was asking because I have a PC that is about 2 years old with stock heatsink/paste that was heating up a bit (Yes it is VERY dust free) so I decided to use AS5 and replace the old paste (Why not?). The old (stock) thermal paste was actually poorly applied (Thick in some areas and gone in others) so I am glad I checked.
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Anonymous
a b à CPUs
July 4, 2010 8:47:34 AM

Thermal paste needs to be reapplied over time as it does go off. But not that often. I went and bought thermal paste for my Dell that was getting exceedingly hot over time (the case was even getting hot) so I took off the heatsinc to find that there was a tiny amount of thermal compound on the CPU and even then it was literally dust. 2 years later and its still cool and quiet. :D 
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June 27, 2013 3:16:53 AM

I bought my laptop in 2008, and after a shamefully scant amount of maintenance, it started overheating in June 2013. I cleaned it out and replaced the thermal compound, and it solved the problem. So from my own personal experience, I would say definitely MORE frequently than every 5 years. I risked ruining my laptop, and will never take that risk again. It DOES appear to dissipate or something, because there was very little left, and none on the touching surfaces.
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