'Idiot-proof' thermal paste applicator to make TIM application easier than ever — X-Apply stencils coming soon

Igor's Lab applies thermal paste in fixed, ultrathin patterns for Intel and AMD CPUs, as well as adjustable sizes for other CPU/GPU dies.
(Image credit: Igor's Lab)

The steady stream of concerned newbie PC builders worried about the best thermal paste application has spurred the creation of a new 'idiot-proof' thermal paste applicator called X-Apply. This applicator should allow anyone to easily apply a perfect layer of thermal paste. Igor's Lab, which has helped develop the new products, tested the X-Apply stencil. The stencil allows the formation of an ideal pattern of thermal paste with an even distribution. 

Most methods of thermal paste installation work about the same, but the final application actually ends up with an uneven distribution on the CPU's IHS and often leaves part of the IHS without paste, which isn't optimal. X-Apply looks to fill those gaps with a special stencil. 

The Intel version of X-Apply, mid-application. A spatula is used to flatten paste into stenciled gaps..

(Image credit: Igor's Lab)

If ordering a plastic helper tool for installing your thermal paste sounds like overkill to you, you aren't alone. Learning how to apply thermal paste to your CPU is dead simple, and there are many application methods. Enthusiasts can tell you just how easy it actually is to just place a pea-sized dollop of TIM and forget about it. To be fair to users who aren't comfortable replacing CPU coolers or maintaining them, though, removing even this step from the thermal paste application (or re-application) process may help.

Other stencils are available, but they tend to come bundled with thermal paste, like Thermaltake TG-50. Some even have wider applications that aim to improve spread, like Cooler Master's MasterGel Pro. However, having the option of purchasing another stencil solution separately will have some appeal.  

Igor's Lab says that X-Apply isn't a retail product just yet, but it will be very soon. It will be available in the forms of X-Apply AMD for AM5 boards, X-Apply Intel for LGA1700 and 1851 boards, and finally, X-Apply X as a universal film that can be cut to size for "all kinds of applications." As of now, the official ETA is "a few weeks," and a domain has been reserved for X-Apply.com, though it doesn't yet seem to be in use.

In any case, we suppose the X-Apply may end up being useful for an upcoming generation of new PC builders, especially in educational settings. Of course, it will be most useful for those who get anxious when applying thermal paste since it removes technique from the equation almost entirely. 

Thermal testing with a 360mm AIO done by Igor's Lab also points toward X-Apply working well, delivering a roughly 4C reduction in temperatures over standard application methods. That isn't a world-breaking difference, but it does at least show that the stencil applies the paste in a workable fashion. As long as X-Apply isn't gratuitously overpriced, there really doesn't seem to be any harm in these easy TIM applicators. Unfortunately, we won't learn pricing until the product comes to market. 

Freelance News Writer
  • hotaru251
    i mean....if you are "that" paranoid just spread it all over ihs yourself :|
  • Rakanyshu
    money grab nonsense. Some people are reapplying paste every year or 2 years cause some youtuber told them... meanwhile oem or "prebuilt" consumers leave that thing running for about 5 to 10 years not even dusting it without any issues.
  • emike09
    Na, I'll stick to manually spreading liquid metal over my IHS. This is just silly, but I'm sure there are people that can't do such a simple thing properly.
  • Eximo
    Only good for consistency while testing. Outside of that, maybe if they were included with the thermal paste tubes they would have some utility.

    OEMs tend to use less thermally conductive long life thermal compounds. Aftermarket ones that prioritize thermal performance often have shorter lifespans due to pump out and other factors.
  • Mpablo87
    Looks perfect for newbies ! ! ! ! !
    When it will be Available ? ?
  • I
    Bad idea. Create something like this and it entices people who were especially inept at doing new things, laymen at PC building and they will find a way to screw it up, in ways that boggle the mind yet still happen anyway.

    I too have seen the crazy youtube *advice* to reapply thermal compound even at such short intervals of yearly. I never had a problem with never reapplying compound, unless I was taking the heatsink off anyway.

    Granted that's within the context of using reasonable quality heatsink grease, not the stuff your father used (transistor era, building stereos/etc) which was just zinc oxide in silicone oil and that did separate out into zinc oxide islands of dry paste after enough years of thermal cycling. I do sometimes see that still happening with PSUs when they get older, though by that age, many had already failed for another reason which was why I had them open to notice that in the first place.