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Spilled thermal paste, please help!

Last response: in CPUs
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June 14, 2012 7:41:53 PM

Good Day, everyone. I accidentally spilled some thermal paste onto my brand new X79 motherboard right on the pin grid where the CPU goes. I decided not to clean it as the thermal compound I got is non-conductive and I did not want to risk bending a pin. The system boots just fine and everything seems fine and dandy (I am Prime95ingg and LinXing right now to stress test). Should I worry about any adverse affects down the line? It was only a small amount of paste. Could this have any long-term affects??


EDIT: So, I decided to go ahead and open everything up again to take a picture, but the affected are is so small that I could not capture it. I did notice something even more discerning, though. It looks like two of the pins may be bent, but I can't be sure. Depending on the angle that the light hits the pins it either looks straight and even, or slightly taller than the rest of the pins and perhaps bent. Is it my eyes playing tricks on me? Would the system even post with bent pins???


EDIT2: Just an update here: I have successfully ran 30 passes of LinX using all memory without any failures, BSODs or errors. Temperatures peaked in the mid 60's (4.2Ghz clock at 1.275V). I will proceed with Prime95 now overnight. If that passes as well, should I assume that:

a) The pins are not bent
b) The spilled thermal paste has no affect on performance or heat

More about : spilled thermal paste

a b à CPUs
June 14, 2012 7:49:20 PM

Can you post a picture of it? It's hard to determine without actually seeing it.
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June 14, 2012 8:02:23 PM

I would prefer not to because then I'd have to take everything apart again and I'd rather leave good enough alone. But, if I have to I have to. I can tell you the the paste spilled right on the bottom-center set of pins
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a b à CPUs
June 14, 2012 8:37:48 PM

Well i think it's fine but it might dry which means it will be there but wont cause harm.
Don't attempt to clean it as it will lead to tears. Everything should be fine.
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a c 103 à CPUs
a c 83 V Motherboard
June 14, 2012 8:51:52 PM

Use isopropylene alcohol to dislodge and break up the paste and wooden tooth pick and cotton buds to clean-up.
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June 14, 2012 8:57:19 PM

So, I decided to go ahead and open everything up again to take a picture, but the affected are is so small that I could not capture it. I did notice something even more discerning, though. It looks like two of the pins may be bent, but I can't be sure. Depending on the angle that the light hits the pins it either looks straight and even, or slightly taller than the rest of the pins and perhaps bent. Is it my eyes playing tricks on me? Would the system even post with bent pins???
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a c 169 à CPUs
a c 168 V Motherboard
June 14, 2012 9:23:39 PM

Hi there,

You can dissolve and clean thermal paste easily by using automotive electronic contact cleaner (make sure it's CFC based). It's about 5 dollars for a can (it's compressed) and works far better at removing thermal paste than rubbing alcohol, especially since yours is trapped in the pins.

As for the "bent pins", it is standard practice in circuit design for the ground pins to be longer than the other pins to ensure that they are connected first. You can observe this if you look at any PCI/PCIe expansion board. I'm not sure if the CPU socket follows the same rules but this may be what you are seeing.
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June 14, 2012 9:57:12 PM

Pinhedd said:
Hi there,

You can dissolve and clean thermal paste easily by using automotive electronic contact cleaner (make sure it's CFC based). It's about 5 dollars for a can (it's compressed) and works far better at removing thermal paste than rubbing alcohol, especially since yours is trapped in the pins.

As for the "bent pins", it is standard practice in circuit design for the ground pins to be longer than the other pins to ensure that they are connected first. You can observe this if you look at any PCI/PCIe expansion board. I'm not sure if the CPU socket follows the same rules but this may be what you are seeing.



Can anyone confirm that the CPU socket will have slightly longer pins for the grounds? If not then perhaps they really are bent and just appear as longer due to the angle the light is hitting it. Or maybe they aren't bent at all as looking at them from directly above they appear they are straight.
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a b à CPUs
June 14, 2012 10:40:10 PM

I've always used rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs to clean up excess thermal paste, as mentioned earlier. I have never tried using the solution Pinhedd mentioned, but it sounds a bit safer than using rubbing alcohol--especially since it is an Intel socket, with the pins exposed, unlike AMD sockets.
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a c 116 à CPUs
a b V Motherboard
June 14, 2012 10:55:28 PM

Pinhedd said:
make sure it's CFC based

CFCs and derived compounds are banned or heavily regulated/restricted in many countries. I doubt you will find many of those products on store shelves in any country with half-decent environment protection agencies.

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June 15, 2012 12:34:32 AM

Just an update here: I have successfully ran 30 passes of LinX using all memory without any failures, BSODs or errors. Temperatures peaked in the mid 60's (4.2Ghz clock at 1.275V). I will proceed with Prime95 now overnight. If that passes as well, should I assume that:

a) The pins are not bent
b) The spilled thermal paste has no affect on performance or heat
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a c 169 à CPUs
a c 168 V Motherboard
June 15, 2012 12:52:32 AM

InvalidError said:
CFCs and derived compounds are banned or heavily regulated/restricted in many countries. I doubt you will find many of those products on store shelves in any country with half-decent environment protection agencies.


destructive CFCs are banned in most modernized countries, non-destructive CFCs are not banned. Some contact cleaners are based on non-CFC compounds but these don't work as well. If I had a bottle with me I'd tell you what the exact compound is, I'll see if I can find it online
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a c 116 à CPUs
a b V Motherboard
June 15, 2012 1:18:00 AM

Pinhedd said:
destructive CFCs are banned in most modernized countries, non-destructive CFCs are not banned.

The Montreal Protocol called for a "phase out to 0%" for ALL CFCs by 1996 which was for the most part adhered to. Phase-out of HCFCs (less harmful but still considered destructive transitional replacements) was extended from 2010 to 2013.

So there may be some HCFC products on shelves but they are about to go land on the discontinued products list.
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a c 169 à CPUs
a c 168 V Motherboard
June 15, 2012 1:35:19 AM

InvalidError said:
The Montreal Protocol called for a "phase out to 0%" for ALL CFCs by 1996 which was for the most part adhered to. Phase-out of HCFCs (less harmful but still considered destructive transitional replacements) was extended from 2010 to 2013.

So there may be some HCFC products on shelves but they are about to go land on the discontinued products list.


There are plenty of HCFC based cleaners available, which is what I am referring to because they are still technically CFCs
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a c 112 à CPUs
a b V Motherboard
June 15, 2012 1:49:07 AM

just get a lint free cloth and some isopropyl alcohol. clean it out and rest easy...
its a lot of money just so say , ah well if it goes it goes...just dab the cloth with the alcohol solution on it over the spill and dab it up. repeat as needed. 1s it looks clean do it 1s more and you should be ready to rock and roll. no residue will be left behind and it will be dry within 5 or so seconds... as long as you dont leave a droplet behind.

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a c 116 à CPUs
a b V Motherboard
June 15, 2012 1:56:25 AM

HEXiT said:
just get a lint free cloth and some isopropyl alcohol. clean it out and rest easy...

I would recommend lint-free swabs or even cotton swabs, less risk of fingers snagging the cloth and less visual obstruction.

Lint is not that much of a problem since it can be blown off with canned air or other less sophisticated means.
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June 19, 2012 4:59:50 AM

Best answer selected by jerubedo.
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