If you have done any PC building or hardware upgrading yourself, you might already know what thermal paste is. It is also known as heat paste, thermal grease, CPU paste, thermal interface material, or thermal gel.
Regardless of the name, applying thermal paste the right way is very crucial to your PC, especially the CPU. Today we will be talking about removing thermal paste off the CPU in the best ways possible.
To be straightforward with you, the easiest way to clean thermal paste is by using paper towels. However, it is not the best method. It is commonly said that the fibers from the paper towel could stick to the heat spreader. It would result in an almost nonexistent CPU cooler, defeating the thermal paste’s whole purpose. As a PC gamer, you know the value that CPU cooling holds, and overheating is a dreadful fate for your PC.
Before you begin trying to clean thermal paste, you should know a few things. First, ensure that your CPU is clean and no residue remains before applying the new thermal paste. Use a microfiber cloth, or a non-shedding paper towel, with isopropyl alcohol to clean any residue. Second, before reapplying the new thermal paste, ensure that your CPU cooler is ready for installation. Follow every step of the instructions until the CPU cooler has been installed.
However, before we start explaining how you should remove the old and hardened thermal paste, let us explain what happens if you are not on your toes about cleaning thermal paste.
What happens if old thermal paste is not removed
When the old thermal paste is left alone for too long, it will prevent sufficient cooling and cause damage to the computer’s central processing unit. If the CPU temperature gets too hot, it will exert too much pressure on your CPU and cause potential damage to other components.
You might not need to reapply thermal paste for a few years after applying the new thermal paste. However, you should always reapply thermal paste if you remove the CPU cooler. It would be best if you also kept an eye on your CPU temperature to know when it needs to be cleaned and reapplied.
How to clean thermal paste from the CPU
You must know that the most important thing to clean the thermal paste from your CPU is to hold it by the edges only.
It is especially necessary when it has been removed from the motherboard. You always have to avoid touching the CPU pins underneath it. Although it is unlikely that you would cause any damage by being moderately careful, you could never be too careful. Your PC components and hardware can be very sensitive, regardless of how expensive they are.
The cleaning process is relatively simple. All you have to do is be careful not to hurt the processor because it will cost you even more money to replace it. As mentioned above, you need to remove the CPU cooler and then the CPU itself. Ensure you have all your necessary tools ready, such as microfiber cloth or paper towels, cotton swabs, isopropyl alcohol / rubbing alcohol or CPU cleaning solution, screwdrivers, and anything else the instructions ask for.
To clean thermal paste, you must dip the microfiber cloth, paper towel, or cotton swab in some cleaning solution or alcohol. With gentle pressure, start removing the thermal paste by lifting it upwards rather than rubbing it off. When you’ve cleaned all the paste residue, look for any fibers or dust particles before moving on to reapplication.
How to reapply thermal paste
With that being said, let’s dive into reapplying thermal paste. Keep in mind that you should use a microfiber cloth and a CPU cleaning solution. You could also use a cotton swab if the paste made its way into delicate spaces such as the CPU pins.
- Always read instructions before starting the process. These instructions include the ones that came with the CPU cooler and thermal paste.
- Apply the thermal paste to the center of the IHS (integrated heat spreader) on the CPU. You only need a small amount of the paste; going overboard can result in a thick layer of hardened thermal paste that causes overheating later.
- Install the CPU cooler without applying too much pressure to place the base plate or your cooler on the CPU. Hold that pressure gently as you attach the cooler to the mount. You have to prevent cooler slips and distribute the paste evenly. Hold the cooler in place while attaching it to the motherboard, and do not tighten the screws until you have fixed all of them. When the screws are in place, turn each screw a couple of times to maintain even pressure.
- Take a thorough look at your work to ensure that all the components and thermal paste are applied correctly. If you have thermal paste spilling over the edge of the CPU or on the motherboard, you can clean it with cotton swabs and rubbing alcohol. Be careful not to move or touch anything else. And now you’re done!