Yesterday I installed a new heat sink and tried to remove the thermal paste already on my cpu with a cotton swab. It wasn't working so I went to the drug store to get some rubbing alcohol (70%). I had to put a lot of rubbing alcohol on the cpu to get the grease off. Now I am worried that I might have scratched the top of the cpu or damaged it. How do I know if my processor is damaged or not?
The top of the cpu is a metal heat spreader that is supposed to take the heat made from the cpu cores and more efficiently transfer it to the cooler. As long as you didnt touch the actual green chip stuff (or really slam your fist into the cpu) it probably wouldnt be so much of an issue. The bigger issue would be that you scratched the heat spreader so so there wouldnt be as much contact with the heat spreader and the cooler (think this picture and imagine a bigger scratch there: https://www.google.com/search?q=how+thermal+compound+wo...)
Even then you would probably have to really scratch at it with something solid to damage it, and that would probably be more of a heat issue than a cpu issue.
as this is a forum and not a question, I overclocked my 3570k to 4.8ghz (I think, maybe 5 or 4.9) It started fine and had normal temp not running much So I used a benchmark to see how hot it gets and the program crashed and my computer stayed on but fans going nuts. It was on for another 15secs before I turned it off. I then clocked it back to 4.6 which it ran fine at earlier and windows wouldn't boot properly and would crash and repair halfway through, I then went down to 4.4 and the same happened, I'm now running at stock wondering if I've damaged my CPU. Have I?
In theory it's supposed to shut down before the temperature damages anything. I doubt it did much to windows, although I might recommend having backups of your data. If it runs fine at stock settings then it is probably fine, the cpu is surprisingly hardy compared to other parts as long as you dont do something like drop it or stab it with a screwdriver. If it really bothers you then you can check for burn marks maybe