If I remove the heatsink/fan...

do I have to take the old thermal paste/pad off or can I just screw it back down?

edit for clarification: I took my heatsink/fan off to clean it. Does that ruin the old paste? Do I have to clean it off and reapply or can I just leave it on and reassemble?
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  1. You can still use the old one yeah :) should not be a problem

    it would if it was 2 different pastes, but if the heatsink is clean and there is paste on the CPU then it should work as normal :)
  2. Anytime you remove the heatsink it is highly recommend that you clean it and the CPU and reapply a fresh thin layer of thermal paste.

    Removing the heatsink breaks the thin paste layer which helps improve heat transfer. It introduces air pockets and that acts as a heat insulator rather than a heat conductor.
  3. ^+1 You take it off, you clean and re-apply new paste
  4. Clean it thoroughly and re-apply fresh paste do not re-use.
  5. Thanks so much all!!
  6. It should still work.
    You should change the thermal paste\pad every few months, but if you already did in the past few months, you should be good.
  7. Yes you can re-use pads but not paste, if it has a pad I'd remove it and use paste anyway.
    You don't need to re-apply paste every few months just when needed, like your cpu temps rise.
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