Thermal paste is a highly conductive chemical that transfers heat from the CPU to the cooler to keep it cool.
Thermal paste is also known as thermal grease, thermal gel, CPU paste, etc. It is applied in between the CPU’s IHS and its heatsink. Heatsink is the part of the CPU collection that directly fixes the computer processor. Thermal paste works as a medium to transfer heat from the CPU to the heatsink.
It maintains the CPU temperature and prevents it from burning out due to overheating. This article discusses whether you need thermal paste for a new CPU. We will also discuss other aspects of the relationship between a CPU and its thermal paste. Let’s start our topic now.
Do You Need Thermal Paste for a New CPU?
When you purchase it, you only need thermal paste for a new CPU and want to replace your old one. The old thermal paste may also be removed when you remove the old CPU. But your new computer does not need thermal paste if the CPU is already fixed.
Buying a new computer comes with a CPU fastened on the CPU slot on the motherboard. The technicians already have the CPU paste applied to it. Hence, you don’t have to do it again. But it would be best if you needed thermal paste to replace your old CPU with a new one.
When you remove the old CPU, the old thermal paste goes away with that processor because it is stuck on its IHS (Integrated Heat Spreader). Using that paste again is not recommended because it might be dried and expired. In this case, you will need some new thermal paste for your new CPU.
What Thermal Paste Do You Need for a New CPU?
It would help to have a new thermal paste for a new CPU. CPU paste is available in different things and amounts, such as thermal paste injections and thermal paste boxes. You will only need a small thermal paste injection because it would be enough for four CPUs. But if you are a technician, then get more.
Thermal paste injections are the best whether you want to change the paste yourself or ask someone to help you. They provide the most convenient way to apply thermal paste on your new CPU. They also have a cap just in case you accidentally inject the paste when keeping the injection.
On the other hand, we have thermal paste boxes. They are less convenient than injections but better than nothing. You must use some tool to fetch the paste from the small box and place it on your new CPU’s IHS. No matter what, keep both out of the reach of children.
How Often Should You Replace Thermal Paste?
You should replace the thermal paste only when you need to replace your old CPU with a new one or when you want to remove the CPU cooler. Replacing the thermal paste on your computer’s processor becomes mandatory. If you don’t, the old paste will have air bubbles.
The air is a poor conductor of heat. As a result, these air bubbles will not transfer the heat from your CPU IHS to the cooler’s heatsink. They will also trap the heat inside. Both of these phenomena will lead to an overheated computer processor. Your computer will also be at risk of frying.
Usually, a good quality CPU thermal paste lasts more or less four years. In contrast, a normal thermal paste should work for about two years. The expiry of your thermal paste depends on the usage of your CPU and the quality of its cooler. Average CPU usage and better thermal paste last for years.
A better quality thermal paste also has a high conductivity value protecting CPU overheating. A good quality thermal paste cools down your CPU faster than an average thermal grease. Using a good-quality thermal paste for your new CPU is always recommended.
How to Apply Thermal Paste on Your New CPU?
1. Disassemble Your Computer
Disassemble your computer to apply thermal paste on your new CPU. First, shut down your computer and unplug it from the main power. It will prevent you from any electric shock. You should also press and hold your computer’s power button for 5 to 10 seconds to discharge any residual charge.
Next, detach all the peripheral devices connected to your computer, such as the keyboard, mouse, monitor, printer, etc. It is for your ease as it will allow you to place your computer down easily. After this, place your computer on a flat surface and remove its side case when it faces the ceiling.
Some computers have sensitive ESD (Electrostatic Discharge) components that can easily be damaged due to Electrostatic Discharge. So, you will need an ESD wrist strap and rubber padding before touching your PC’s motherboard. You should also wear well-insulated shoes on your feet during this.
2. Detach Other Devices Connected to Your Motherboard
Now, you may need to detach some of the other devices connected to your motherboard and PSU, especially when the case of your computer is small. These devices include graphics cards (GPU), SSDs, DVD-ROM, etc. Computer users with bigger computer cases can skip this step.
Make enough space by moving the power and data cables here and there to apply thermal paste on the new CPU easily. By doing this, you will not have to take your motherboard out of the case, as applying the thermal paste on a CPU can become burdensome.
You might need to open your motherboard and bring it out of the case, especially when you have a small PC case. But in most cases, it is not an obligation. Most computers have enough space inside their case. It allows us to replace the older hardware with the new one without opening the motherboard.
3. Remove The Old CPU
Remove the old CPU so you can install the new one. You must clean your PC using a blower or vacuum. This way, the dust will get out of your computer and not drop on the thermal paste on the new CPU. It will also protect your computer hardware from overheating.
Disconnect the CPU cooler cable from the motherboard or power supply (PSU). This cable connects your cooler fan to the power to work properly. It is necessary to disconnect your CPU cooler because it will not come out of the case, and cleaning it will become a difficult process.
Now, open the CPU cooler by unscrewing or unclipping it. Use the proper tool for this, as the wrong tool can damage the screw heads. Do not apply pressure, as your tool can slip and damage other components on your motherboard, such as RAMs, slots, PCBs, etc.
Carefully bring your CPU cooler out of your computer case without touching any other part of your motherboard and computer. After this, unlock your old processor from the socket and bring it out. Your CPU may have dried paste on its IHS. So carefully pick it up, keeping it even.
It will prevent the thermal paste from falling on your computer’s motherboard. It is a highly conductive chemical that can cause short circuits on your motherboard. As a result, your motherboard will burn out. Hence, pick up any thermal paste from your motherboard if it accidentally drops.
4. Install The New CPU and Apply Thermal Paste
Now, install the new CPU on your motherboard. Make sure that the processor IHS should be facing the ceiling. You might need to rotate it to fix it in the shape of your motherboard’s CPU socket. Do not apply pressure when installing the new CPU because it can break your socket or motherboard.
After this, lock the CPU properly in the socket. Next, apply the thermal paste as shown in the image. Applying the paste will cover your processor’s and the heatsink’s maximum area. It will also prevent any air bubbles from forming in between your new CPU and its cooler’s heatsink.
Clean the CPU cooler first. After applying the thermal paste on your new CPU, carefully place the CPU cooler in the same direction you detached it. Tighten the screws of your CPU cooler, but do not overtighten them as it is unnecessary. However, letting them loose can affect the process of CPU cooling.
5. Assemble Your Computer Back
Assemble your computer the way you disassembled it. First of all, connect all the internal devices to the motherboard. Then, connect all devices to the power cables coming from the power supply unit (PSU). Next, close your PC case and connect all the peripheral devices.
In the end, place it in its place, plug it in, and power it on to see if all devices are working properly. It is good to download software to see the current temperature of your CPU. Comparing this temperature with the temperature ratings of your CPU will confirm the proper application of thermal paste.
You must apply thermal paste when replacing your new CPU with your old processor. The IHS of a new CPU is always clean. But if your computer motherboard already has a processor, you do not need to apply thermal paste to open it. The vendors have done this already for your convenience.
You must also apply thermal paste when maintaining or replacing your CPU cooler. The old thermal paste will go away with the old CPU cooler. Similarly, it will also take some paste from your CPU’s IHS (integrated heat spreader). But always use the new thermal paste as the old is dried.
Using your CPU with old and dried thermal paste will overheat the CPU. It can easily burn out your computer processor within minutes. The thermal paste comes in a small box and an injection. It is more convenient to use the thermal paste injection than other packings.
Thermal paste has a long life depending on its quality and usage. An average thermal paste can work properly for about two years. On the other hand, good quality thermal grease lasts for more or less four years. More usage and CPU heat dries out the thermal paste, as in extreme gaming, rendering, etc.
Hey, I’m Hammad. I write for this website to help you with the IT advice about PC, RAM, CPU, Motherboard, PSU, and other PC components.
I will provide detailed guides with images, and explain step by step so you can understand the process. Check all my articles here.