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Old 2013-12-14, 22:49   Link #1
Nochgo
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Heat sink and thermal paste

After seeing my laptop's core (Mobile Intel Core i5 2515E Sandy Bridge) constantly reach the maximum allowed temperature (100 C) during gaming (~40-50 C when idle), I decided to replace the thermal paste. Now, I have never done this procedure before, and I just wanted to ask some questions about it.

I've already disassembled the motherboard from the laptop for practice and reassembled it successfully (thank god, it was stressful), but I haven't tried separating the heatsink from the motherboard just yet. One thing I noticed about the heat sink though, was that about half of the copper-colored tubes were all black/charred. Is this bad? Do I have to replace the heatsink?

Also, I bought the ArticSilver 5 and its manual says to remove the thermal pads. Do I replace the pads after removing them, or just remove them and leave it removed, or apply the thermal paste to the places where the pads were?

The manual also mentions tinting the heatsink, which I have no idea what I'm supposed to do. I did some googling, and apparently its not all that important so I'm just thinking of not doing this step.

As far as applying the paste, do I just put a rice-size amount on the CPU and GPU (nVIDIA GeGorce GT 630M) cores and let the pressing of the heatsink do its magic and spread the paste, or should i spread them myself?

I didn't think applying new thermal paste would be such a pain in the arse.. Any help is appreciated!
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Last edited by Nochgo; 2013-12-14 at 23:02.
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Old 2013-12-15, 01:15   Link #2
Flower
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Generallyin applying thermal paste you put a dab in the middle of the processor, which will spread itself out when you lock down the heat sink on top. Having the paste blerch out the side onto the board or other components is not an ideal result.

I have only done this with desktops, though - never laptops, so I will let others who have done so speak more to that.
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Old 2013-12-15, 05:57   Link #3
Jaden
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Did this to a laptop once, the shape of the heatsink is different and there are less fans, but other than that it's the same process.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nochgo View Post
Also, I bought the ArticSilver 5 and its manual says to remove the thermal pads. Do I replace the pads after removing them, or just remove them and leave it removed, or apply the thermal paste to the places where the pads were?
Remove them. The paste does what the pads used to do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nochgo
The manual also mentions tinting the heatsink, which I have no idea what I'm supposed to do. I did some googling, and apparently its not all that important so I'm just thinking of not doing this step.
Yeah, seems unnecessary.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nochgo
As far as applying the paste, do I just put a rice-size amount on the CPU and GPU (nVIDIA GeGorce GT 630M) cores and let the pressing of the heatsink do its magic and spread the paste, or should i spread them myself?
Don't need to spread it yourself.

Besides all that, clean up the surfaces well beforehand and set the heatsink nicely tight and even. Should get great results.
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Old 2013-12-15, 11:51   Link #4
Nochgo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaden View Post
Remove them. The paste does what the pads used to do.
Sorry, I didn't clarify myself on this part. My motherboard+heatsink apparently has 4 parts of contact:

The computer as it came, (1) and (3), the CPU and GPU cores respectively, and its heat sink attachment points, (2) and (4) should have thermal paste on it. These I'll just remove and apply the new paste. However, other mother board parts, (5) and its cover (6) should have thermal pads on it. I was wondering if I should remove these and apply the paste as well, or if I needed to get a pad.

The directions from the computer's manual says:
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Old 2013-12-17, 02:20   Link #5
Jaden
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Oh, I wouldn't bother removing those two. Dunno which part of the motherboard (5) is, but I don't think there's that much heat to be dispersed from it.
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Old 2013-12-17, 02:56   Link #6
4Tran
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nochgo View Post
Sorry, I didn't clarify myself on this part. My motherboard+heatsink apparently has 4 parts of contact:

The computer as it came, (1) and (3), the CPU and GPU cores respectively, and its heat sink attachment points, (2) and (4) should have thermal paste on it. These I'll just remove and apply the new paste. However, other mother board parts, (5) and its cover (6) should have thermal pads on it. I was wondering if I should remove these and apply the paste as well, or if I needed to get a pad.
(5) looks like they're dedicated video memory chips - the way they're arranged around the video processor is a dead giveaway. Memory chips tend to not be very heat-sensitive, so it'd be okay to leave the thermal pads as is.
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Old 2013-12-17, 15:28   Link #7
Dhomochevsky
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Keep in mind that arctic silver paste contains metal of some sort (dunno if its actual silver).
That means it is a conductor and if any of this stuff gets on your motherboard, its basicly toast.
I know, I ruined one of my AMD boards with a smudgy arctic silver fingerprint way back in the days. ^^'

Anyhow, the way to apply thermal paste goes as follows:
0) if there were pads on the heatsink before, make sure there are not pieces of them, or the glue remaining. The surfaces should be clean and shiny.
1) apply a tiny drop of paste on the middle of the heatsink surface (not on the cpu side)
2) use some kind of plastic card (like an old banking card for example) to spread the paste over the surface. Try to get the layer as thin as possible, but still completely covering the surface (i.e. do not scratch it off).
The point of the paste is to even out any irregularities in the surface, but you do not want a big layer of paste between your die and the heatsink. As good as the paste may be at transfering heat, your heatsink is better at it.

Well, my time of overclocking stuff are a bit in the past, but that's hwo we did it.
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Old 2013-12-17, 23:36   Link #8
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If you accidentally let some flecks of the paste onto the pcb, try cleaning it off completely with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol (should be isopropyl) and then use a clean toothbrush and a cotton rag until there's no more of the paste. Also clean up after applying the paste.
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Old 2013-12-21, 10:36   Link #9
Nochgo
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Thank you for the responses guys, I'll try to apply the thermal paste later today, hopefully if goes well!
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Old 2013-12-29, 05:40   Link #10
felix
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Probably too late to correct the misinformation, but oh well...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dhomochevsky View Post
0) if there were pads on the heatsink before, make sure there are not pieces of them, or the glue remaining. The surfaces should be clean and shiny.
1) apply a tiny drop of paste on the middle of the heatsink surface (not on the cpu side)
2) use some kind of plastic card (like an old banking card for example) to spread the paste over the surface. Try to get the layer as thin as possible, but still completely covering the surface (i.e. do not scratch it off).
The point of the paste is to even out any irregularities in the surface, but you do not want a big layer of paste between your die and the heatsink. As good as the paste may be at transfering heat, your heatsink is better at it.

Well, my time of overclocking stuff are a bit in the past, but that's hwo we did it.
That's idiotic!

Here's what you need to understand when applying thermal paste.
  • The point of thermal paste is to fill in gaps between the heatsink and cpu to ensure perfect contact; that's it, if we could get perfect contact metal to metal we wouldn't use it.
  • How you apply thermal paste varies based on cpu vendor. What you think of as the CPU (ie. what you can touch/see) is just the cover, the actual silicon chip is inside. Counter intuitively Intel chips are NOT square and do not cover the entire surface. The way heat is transferred from the silicon to then heatsink is essentially: silicon > thermal paste inside the CPU > cover > your thermal paste > heatsink
  • The "bead in the middle" method works on both. The "line method" is ideal for intel chips (assuming you're applying it on the correct position to cover the silicon part). The X method (applied sparingly!) is ideal for spread on the amd chips.
  • Thinner is better when it comes to thermal paste, the actual metal conducts better then any thermal paste.
  • if you were STUPID enough to actually spread it by hand what would happen is that pockets of air will form! You apply the paste in a beat, line or X not because it's somehow simpler to apply but because it lets the AIR get the hell out. Just so we're clear AIR is HORRIBLE at conducting heat and the only reason most heat sinks use air to cool is because it's really really CONVENIENT as opposed to water/pumps/etc
  • HEAT will spread the paste out further!
  • not all parts of the damn CPU heat up equally, this can vary based on the model (and I do mean actual model not vendor). 99.99999999% of the time though you most certainly DO NOT need it to cover the entire damn surface of the COVER. The silicon chip doesn't even go THAT FAR and all you're doing especially if you're using a metal based paste (which is sadly whats ideal for heat transfer) is risking short circuiting your cpu by risking it spilling. On intel chips you barely need to cover 50% of the entire surface! Also keep in mind metal based paste spreads harder, ie. might need the heatsink to sit on it under heat to finish spreading properly.
  • READ THE DAMN MANUAL, no seriously this procedure is typically highlighted proper in the manual with your CPU or heatsink if you bouth 3rd party one. There is absolutely no reason to go on the internet and look at people in videos apply it wrong then praise their 2-3 times hotter then it should be temperatures; average temps on a i5 on stock clock is 16 on idle/browsing 26-32 in intensive applications (temperature may vary by 5-10 depending on the quality of the silicon you got, which is somewhat random). Mind you this is on desktops; god only knows what laptop temps you might get.

I realize there are a lot of stupid videos/guides of people spreading and applying it wrong, way to go highlight them as "best results" google , so here's a demonstration of what exactly happens when you spread the paste in the different methods:



How do I know if I spread it right?

Install hwmonitor, CPU-z or any other program that exposes the onboard sensor data about your CPU's temps. Assuming ideal/desktop use shows normal temps go into some game or some other intensive application and let it cook for a while; preferably something that taxes all your CPUs. If you see one of the cores heat up a lot more the others (lets say 1.5 - 2x times at least) then you applied it wrong. Obviously anything like 70-90 on stock clock is also just plain wrong as well.

How do I fix it if it's applied wrong?

Open your shit up. Clean the old paste (please be careful not to TOUCH or get any of it in your eyes). Re-apply it. Check again.

Repeat until you get it right.
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Last edited by felix; 2013-12-29 at 05:52.
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Old 2013-12-29, 06:45   Link #11
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