Okay, so, let me lay out the situation for you guys. If you don't care and just have copy+paste advice to give me, skip to the line-break.
About a year ago, I bought a new CPU for my laptop and obviously wanted to install it. After perusing dozens of websites and videos, I conclusively realized the best way to apply thermal paste and the heatsink onto the new CPU would be thus:
1.) Put a dab of paste in the middle of the CPU, and use an unused credit card (washed off with alcohol) to 'smear' it (by which I gathered was "get it as thin as humanly possible").
2.) Place the heatsink... plate... thing (whatever it's called) firmly onto the CPU, avoiding any wiggling (that would mess up the paste), and secure it.
However, there was a problem. After trying this, I of course went into Windows Experience Index (or whatever) to test my awesome new part! ... except, by startup, I could already hear the fan screaming at me. Uh-oh. Open Speedfan, sure enough, it is peaking at 90, 100 degrees -- Celsius. Don't know that much about computers, but I do know that that's the danger threshold for processors. So I retried the application. Still up at 90. Retried. Still up there.
I realized after the second go that, in order to get to the core, I had lifted up the heatsink... which involved me bending the copper pipe. I didn't realize I had to take my computer apart completely and unscrew the pipe. From what I gathered from various questions at various forums/sites/friends, the copper piping of a heatsink is more than just metal -- it's got some sort of oil or crystal matrix or something like that? I gathered that the stress the bending had rendered in the pipe had caused this temperature increase. It was far too late at that point, though, so I just took it to a repair shop and paid like $60 for a 'diagnostic' where they told me the problem. At least they sent it into Asus -- my computer is a K50ID, and according to the shop I went to, since was less than a year old at the time of my mess-up, they couldn't order a new pipe; they had to send it to Asus's facilities. Good for me; not only did I get it fixed, I even got the part for free (apparently, the shop managed to claim it was under warranty despite the fact that I had changed the CPU (and yes, the new core was still in the computer). Good for me, I guess.)
Long story short: Do you see anything wrong with the procedure I followed in applying the paste/heatsink? Was it that bent pipe that was the cause of the temperatures, and not just me doing a bad application(s)? I want this new computer, yet I don't want to spend 60 bucks going to a shop and having them put the heatsink on (that's the only part of the build I'm worried about. Literally.)
I COULD just use the stock cooler that comes with my new CPU (Phenom II X4 955), but I've heard that it's loud and fairly inefficient, so I really want to put on a Hyper 212.
'Small rice grain' works for me (sometimes I make it to the 'semi-colon' stage with a small dot on either side if it looks like my small rice gain may be too small). Don't. Use. Too. Much. Paste.
I think you will find with that PhII 955 your heat shield on the CPU is marginally concave. That small amount of material simply fills that very small concave void between the heat shield and bottom of the HSF assembly. For the most part the perimeter of the heat shield on an AMD CPU will 'bite' every slightly into the solid copper bottom of the HSF assembly when you close that latch. Works like a charm.
I also don't have a problem with gently moving the HSF assembly around in the mounting bracket as you seat it - just don't go crazy about it. The tolerances are such that the base of the assembly cannot move within the bracket far enough to screw up the paste if you do a half-arse job of lining it up. As a matter of fact, it appears to spread the paste quite well - LOL - especially with stock heatpipe coolers with the solid copper bases.
Works for me. Everyone finds their own way and what works best for them. I wouldn't let your experience with a laptop CPU & cooler worry you about a desktop build.
You should not have the laptop experience, with desktop parts.
I don't advise taking laptops apart. MANY FACTORS. The torquing of the screws on re installation of the various layer of parts and the back lid. Are all critical. Especially with heat cycles.
Often time, the heat pipes/sinks are interconnected on laptops. Making them long, they are both flimsy and flexible and need correct pressure against the gpu ,cpu parts they are cooling. Its a balancing act, that a slightly warped/bent part can wreak havoc.
The exposed heat pipe base often benefits from filling the channels in with compound.
Then using the center dob method. Popular heat sink, review sites have done articles on this.