This will be my first time building a computer. Wikihow tells me I should apply thermal paste to the CPU once it is attached to the motherboard. Do I need to buy this separately or will it come with the CPU or motherboard? I will be ordering an i7 950 and an Asus Sabretooth.
you have to buy it separately if you buy a after market cooler it probably come with one but you should better buy one better like the arthic silver 5 or the XIGMATEK PTI-G3606 is cheaper and has good reviews
the retail box Intel processor comes with thermal paste pre applied, so no real need to use after market paste. Do your self a favor and install the fan out of the case, so to make sure the push pins are completely and securely fastened to the motherboard.
You'll get some with the CPU, there are better products, Artic Silver being one of the better ones available. You'll want to apply the THINNEST amount to the CPU, all you're trying to do is fill the micro-defects between the CPU and the cooler. A simple applicator is an eight inch zip tie... Wipe off the flat tip end and use it to "ice" the CPU, don't worry about perfection, just make it THIN!
According to Arctic Silver you don't spread it out, just a vertical line.
Unless you are talking about Tinting the heatsink and metal cap.
Squeeze enough thermal compound onto the center of this area to create a small mound. By working the plastic tool (old credit card) back and forth in all directions you will smooth out the compound and work it into heatsink. This will ensure optimum filling of the microscopic valleys in the metal where the CPU cores will contact the heatsink.