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How to Apply Thermal Paste

What you need

  1. How to Apply Thermal Paste, Overview: step 1, image 1 of 1
    • Thermal paste is responsible for conducting heat from the processor to the heat sink. Reassembling a computer without applying thermal paste will cause the processor to overheat, resulting in permanent damage.

    • Before applying a new layer of thermal paste, you must first remove any old thermal paste from both the processor surface and the heat sink.

  2. How to Apply Thermal Paste: step 2, image 1 of 2 How to Apply Thermal Paste: step 2, image 2 of 2
    • Use the flat end of a spudger to scrape off as much solidified thermal paste from the copper core(s) of the heat sink as possible.

  3. How to Apply Thermal Paste: step 3, image 1 of 1
    • After scraping off the solidified thermal paste, a residue is still present on the copper core(s).

  4. How to Apply Thermal Paste: step 4, image 1 of 2 How to Apply Thermal Paste: step 4, image 2 of 2
    • Use a coffee filter or a lint-free cloth and a little isopropyl alcohol (a.k.a. IPA, 90% concentration or greater) to clean the thermal paste residue off the thermal contact surface of your heat sink.

    • Instead of IPA, you may also use a dedicated cleaning agent, such as ArctiClean Thermal Material Remover.

    • Once the surface is clean, use a fresh piece of coffee filter or cloth and a little more IPA to remove any oils and prepare the surface.

    • Do not touch either the chip or the heatsink, or allow any dust or debris to get on them. Even a fingerprint can be a major obstacle to thermal transfer on a chip.

    • Allow the heat sink(s) to dry completely!

  5. How to Apply Thermal Paste: step 5, image 1 of 1
    • Use the flat end of a plastic spudger to remove any solidified thermal paste from the surface of the processor(s).

    • Do not use any metal objects for this procedure. Be careful not to break any components on the processor's surface, or get any thermal compound loose on any components (conductive pastes could cause problems).

  6. How to Apply Thermal Paste: step 6, image 1 of 2 How to Apply Thermal Paste: step 6, image 2 of 2
    • Again, use a coffee filter or lint-free cloth and a little IPA or ArctiClean Thermal Material Remover to clean any thermal paste residue off the processor surface.

    • Use a fresh piece of coffee filter or cloth and some IPA to remove any remaining oils and prepare the surface.

    • Allow the processor(s) to dry completely!

  7. How to Apply Thermal Paste: step 7, image 1 of 1
    • To apply new thermal paste, use the application method recommended for your specific processor type—vertical line, horizontal line, middle dot, or surface spread. Note that surface spread has the potential to trap air bubbles.

    • If you're using the surface spread method:

    • Wrap the tip of your index finger with a piece of plastic (such as a sandwich bag or Saran wrap).

    • Dispense a very small amount of thermal paste onto processor core(s).

    • Use your finger to gently smear the thermal paste over the entire processor core(s).

    • If you accidentally apply a small amount of thermal paste on the green surface of the processor, it will not cause any harm.

    • The processor(s) is now ready for heat sink installation.

    • You do not need to apply any thermal paste on the heat sink(s), although Arctic Silver gives instructions on "tinting" the heat sink to reduce the break-in time of the thermal compound.


To reassemble your device, follow your device's disassembly instructions in reverse order.

1056 other people completed this guide.


For heat sinks with a spring on the screws: Wonder why there are springs on the heat sink screws? Do not over tighten them, the springs are there to help you apply the correct amount of pressure on to the CPU and GPU. If you tighten them all the way, it may not be the correct pressure! Leave maybe 1 mm of space, just before the screw stops turning. iFixit forgot to mention this important part, and also in the heat paste guide!!

m3kw - Reply

This is completely untrue. The holes bored in the heat sinks are in fact a larger diameter than both the threads and the shoulder of the heat sink screws. The screws should be fully tightened (as they were from the factory) to maintain correct pressure against the processors.

Andrew Bookholt -

I have two green lights on my xbox slim ... Should I do all of this to get rid of them? I'm not sure if they are supposed to be green. I bought my wii and remotes from a refurbishing place. I don't have the red ring of death, but I think it is from over heating.

OMG Hi -

Thank you so much for this! Have been struggling for months with CPU diode sensor reporting 262F/128C and CPU dropping to 0.8 Ghz due to Speedstep. Loosened the screws a little and the sensor is back to normal. I cannot thank you enough for this!

keet grey -

It didn't help my crashing MBP, NVidia bug.

gustmoge - Reply

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