There appears to be many opinions after an hour of searching on how to apply TIM. Checking AS website, they say that you should use the vertical line method on i5 processors ... but I'm not sure if that applies to the 1st or 2d generation. Looking at the 212+ instructions, they indicate you should apply the paste (included) onto the heatsink itself. And of course, the internet is full of any mix of suggestions.
The i5-2500k/212+ combo seemed to be a popular choice in the new system forums as of late, so I'm wondering how folks may have done the assembly.
I've always used stock coolers, so I'm a little nervous on this assembly.
Due to the unique shape and sizes of the particles in Arctic Silver 5's conductive matrix, it will take a up to 200 hours and several thermal cycles to achieve maximum particle to particle thermal conduction and for the heatsink to CPU interface to reach maximum conductivity. (This period will be longer in a system without a fan on the heatsink or with a low speed fan on the heatsink.) On systems measuring actual internal core temperatures via the CPU's internal diode, the measured temperature will often drop 2C to 5C over this "break-in" period. This break-in will occur during the normal use of the computer as long as the computer is turned off from time to time and the interface is allowed to cool to room temperature. Once the break-in is complete, the computer can be left on if desired.
So by my estimation of this statement it would take almost a year of normal use to properly cure the AS5 compound, or almost nine days of continuous power cycles to meet their recommendation. Benchmark Reviews feels that this is a characteristically unreasonable requirement for any TIM product, and we do not support it. We want products that perform without the burden of sacrifice on our time, especially with some many competing products offering performance without this extra requirement.
I would grab a tube of Shin Etsu and get right at it from the getgo. It has the same thermal performance "Day 1" as AS5 does after it's cure in period.
Jack has a point but I don't think it's a big deal. My main problem with AS5 has more to do with some initial temp issues, the first hour or so. AS 5 can actually give an unreal temp drop to the tcase (general CPU) temp, I think because of evaporation.
AS5 has been used by many for years with no issue. The newer ceramique TIMs are a bit better though.
I honestly think if you read and understand all the opinions and theories about TIM application you can come to your own conclusion. The main points are a very thin, minimal layer and no air pockets. Achieve that however you think best.
Pea in the middle, squish it out with the force of the heatsink alone (and maybe with a tiny twist too). Nothing fancy, nothing major, always works for me.
I did build two identical i7 930 rigs early last year together with AS5 - did the pea drop on one and the lines on the other. Temps were the same with an occasional 1 degree fluctuation on the pea drop one, but that could be anything.