Ok so I have a stock Intel circular heatsink/fan for my DX79TO mobo but the heat sink/fan doesn't "snap-in" to the board. I can feel that its attached to the board but I can also lift the cooler a few cm off the processor. The push down parts are acting like rails but not actually holding the processor flush against the cpu. I don't think this is normal.
Also I tried installing last night and was too afraid to boot the thing up so I just gave up and went to bed. I'm worried the thermal paste has become useless since its not flush on the processor? Should I reapply?
The way the push-pins are made, the HSF plastic frame should have practically no wiggle-room since the push-pins are just long enough to go through the opening in the plastic frame and the PCB. Slack between the frame and CPU would also be slim to non-existent.
If you can really lift the heatsink 1cm off the board then it either was not set properly at all, something is broken or the HSF doesn't match the holes.
Since Intel's push-pin HSF is easy to mis-install even on a good day (looks and feels snug but still fails to make proper contact), I would bet on an install issue.
I agree, the intell stock heatsinks are a really snug fit and you have to use more force to install it than you would think. Also review the installation guide. Installing the pins requires you to go in an x pattern iirc.
Intel had a winner with the S478 cam-lever "claw", wish they had stuck to something like that. Easy to put on, fairly easy to take off but not easy enough for it to fall on its own, easy to tell whether it it engaged properly or not, the force applied to lock the cam levers gives direct feedback about how much pressure is being applied which makes it easy to tell there is substantial pressure being applied.
With push-pins, it is impossible to tell the force being applied goes to the CPU apart from what is being applied where the plastic frame meets the PCB.