Thermal paste is a necessary part of a CPU’s cooling system, but applying it can be a bit tricky. You have to be careful to avoid smearing gray goop on your expensive processor or causing an air bubble. And touching the surface with your finger can introduce oils from your hand that will interfere with the thermal transfer between the chip and the heat sink.
It’s a topic that can be controversial among enthusiasts. Ask one overclocker and they’ll recommend a single rice grain-sized dot of paste, while a general PC user who dabbles in fixing PCs will probably recommend a line-based method.
The main reason for these differing opinions is that there’s no one application method that works best in all scenarios. The key is to find a way to lay down the paste so that it covers the entire surface of the processor with no gaps, and to apply enough pressure to ensure the paste doesn’t spread too far.
Most thermal pastes are based on metal oxides like aluminum, with a silicone binder. These oxides lose their electrical conductivity when oxidized, but they still retain some thermal capacity.
The most important thing to remember when using a thermal paste is that it fills in the imperfections between the chip and the heatsink, improving heat transfer. It also reduces the physical distance between the two, which increases the overall efficiency. The six methods below can help achieve these goals, but it’s important to choose the right technique for your needs. Thermal paste application