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Thermal Paste Comparison, Part Two: 39 Products Get Tested

Coollaboratory Liquid Ultra: Application Problems And Clean-Up

The pictures below are staged. But their purpose is to warn you what might happen if you're not careful, or if you don't pull the CPU from its interface before applying the liquid. Even if you're being meticulous, small droplets will separate and run away. So, keep a thin, clean brush handy to deal with them. Don’t spread them or wipe them away; instead, lift them up!

If you have never experienced the sinking feeling of spotting a liquid metal droplet between CPU pins, look at the bottom picture. However, the tiny droplets at the PCB’s edge may be even worse because they're barely visible to the naked eye.

Cleaning with Chemical Agents and a Wire Brush

It's one thing to apply liquid metal. Removing it is an entirely different ballgame. Even popping off the heat sink can be a challenge. It's very easy to pull an AMD processor right out of its locked socket if you're not extra careful. Make life a little easier by starting the process while the processor is still hot, and detach the heat sink by gently turning it left and right. If you roughed both the heat sink and spreader, you're going to be met with resistance. You might be best off mounting a smooth heat sink on a roughed spreader. This combination seems to come apart most easily.

The cleaning agent from Coollaboratory's cleaning set works, but it won't get everything off. Thus, you still have to use the wire brush. Scrape, apply more solvent, wipe, rinse, and repeat. As you might guess, this takes some time.

In the end, you'll probably wind up with two scratched-up surfaces. Luckily, I bought two closed-loop liquid coolers, allowing him to continue testing conventional pastes with a smooth sink.