How to Apply Thermal Paste to a GPU or CPU [Guide 2022] (2023)

appliesthermal pasteIt's an essential skill for any aspiring PC builder.

If this is your first time applying thermal paste, you've probably heard countless horror stories about hardware being destroyed by fire.

Thermal paste is often confused withthermal gluebecause of their "glued" look and feel, but they are very different. Thermal adhesive is used to bond a heatsink to an integrated circuit. In contrast, thermal paste has no adhesive properties and is responsible for thisHeat conduction from the chip to the heatsink.

There are two reasons you might need to apply thermal paste: You bought itnew chip, or you replace your old thermal paste. There are several methods of applying thermal paste, and they all work very well.

Let's see how to do this for both GPU and CPU.


    Applying thermal paste to a new CPU or GPU

    How to Apply Thermal Paste to a GPU or CPU [Guide 2022] (1)

    It can be a little demoralizing for a newbie to buy a high-performance CPU and find that it needs to perform an unknown task that might be possiblescrew up their hardware🇧🇷 The situation is further confusing with the different possible methods of applying thermal paste.

    It would be misleading to say that there is no unsafe way to apply thermal paste. There are, but some guidelines and common sense will allow you to apply the ideal amount correctly.

    It is important to note that some CPU coolers come with thermal grease pre-applied. If that's not the case for you, then you have to do it.manually.

    Step 0 - Find the right folder

    Before starting the process, it is important to choose the best possible folder.

    (Video) Best Way to Apply Thermal Paste? Does it Even Matter?

    The usual rule of thumb applies here:The more expensive the thermal paste, the better it works🇧🇷 As always, there are some exceptions to this rule, but this approach applies in general.

    You want a quality thermal paste to conduct the heat from your CPU to the CPUheatsinkmore efficient, although a cheaper one usually gets the job done just fine.

    How to Apply Thermal Paste to a GPU or CPU [Guide 2022] (2)

    Since thermal paste isn't expensive, it's probably best to spend a few bucks more, at least for your own peace of mind. Another useful feature is that thermal paste usually comes in its own container that resembles a medical syringe, which allows you to apply the paste slowly and precisely.

    That means the only way to apply too much paste is if you intentionally press too much. In reality, you're far more likely to under-apply.

    Step 1 - Installing the chip

    Before you begin, remember that you should only apply thermal pasteafter installing and protecting the chip on the motherboard🇧🇷 The folder is placedon topto conduct heat to the heatsink and has absolutely nothing to do with the connectors.

    If you install oneNova-CPUfor onealtmotherboard, loosen the socket latch (retaining arm), loosen the screws, or both depending on the motherboard. In any case, you mustconsult a manual for your specific motherboard model.

    After you have done thisGently hold the chip by the sidesso as not to damage the pins. There is usually an indicator (a small triangle) to help you accurately align the CPU with themotherboard socket.

    Step 2 - Applying the paste

    Once the chip is secured by the latches or screws, it's time to add the heatsink to the equation. It is worth remembering that it is not enclosed by the thermal paste, which, as already mentioned, does not have adhesive properties.

    Before we place the heatsink on the chip, we first need to apply thermal paste.

    There are different methods, but the most commonly used are these"point" methodit is at"Cross" method.


    As"point" method, SheApply a dot the size of a grain of ricetoward the center of the CPU and lower the heatsink with firm but steady force. Of course, you shouldn't hit or use the full force of your body. You just lay it on the ground and try to make it the same on all sides.

    How to Apply Thermal Paste to a GPU or CPU [Guide 2022] (3)

    A good rule of thumb for this method is to watch the capacitors around the CPU and try to keep the paste that size. This form of applying thermal paste is the most common and is usually fairly safe.

    (Video) BEGINNERS GUIDE: How To Apply CPU Thermal Paste

    this method is niceReliableeit will not cause extra shedding.


    If you want to be on the even safer side, you can use the"Cross" method, which is exactly what it sounds like. You draw a straight line from one corner to the opposite corner, then repeat the process, connecting the other two corners, with the two lines intersecting in the middle.

    How to Apply Thermal Paste to a GPU or CPU [Guide 2022] (4)

    Important note: do not draw the lines to the edges; You should try to stay within the CPU limits as much as possible.

    Lowering the heatsink is virtually identical to the other method, with the same force distribution.

    There are many other "drawing" methods, but they generally produce the same results. You can use the..."Line" methodor the'Spiral' Method,'and they are exactly what they seem. You can even draw a smiley face, although we're not sure if this improves the results.

    things to see

    There are two other ways to apply thermal paste and they are not standard solutions like the ones above.

    If you apply too little thermal paste then there probably isn't enough heat to conduct heat properly and you may haveoverheatingProblems with your CPU or GPU.

    However, if you apply too much thermal paste, you have another problem.

    Apparently the heat is being conducted properly, but too much paste can cause it to splatter on the sides when pressure is applied to the heatsink. This isn't a big problem, but it can beboringto remove the thermal grease from the motherboard.

    How to Apply Thermal Paste to a GPU or CPU [Guide 2022] (5)

    We've described the process for the CPU, but it's pretty much the same for the GPU.

    You must open your graphics card to reveal the chip. If you're not sure how to do this, there's a good guide below:

    Changing the thermal paste

    There are many reasons to change the thermal paste on your GPU or CPU.

    (Video) How To Apply CPU Thermal Paste Methods - Compare and Benchmark

    If you find that one of the components is overheating, first check whether this is necessarywipe the dustor if theFanswork correctly. If you do this and the overheating issue persists, it's probably time to change the thermal paste.

    Related:Best GPU temperature for gaming

    To do this, you will first need new thermal paste. Once you get it, you can remove the GPU from the motherboard or CPU heatsink.

    By detaching the heatsink from the chip, you can see firsthand how effective the previous application of thermal paste was.

    If you used the "dot" method and the paste wasn't evenly distributed, try the "cross" method this time.

    Before proceeding, you must firstRemove the heatsink and chip from the circuit board,since the next part of the process may accidentally damage it.

    How to Apply Thermal Paste to a GPU or CPU [Guide 2022] (6)

    There are two different opinions on how to remove paste residue, and while either will work, the best method is probably a combination of the two. For the largest piece of paste, you can use aMicrofiber clothingor, if not, a paper towel.

    When holding the chip, be careful to hold it by the sides, otherwise you could damage the pins and render it unusable.

    How to Apply Thermal Paste to a GPU or CPU [Guide 2022] (7)

    You will want to useIsopropyl alcoholwith the highest percentage of isopropyl alcohol possible and dampen the clothbefore rubbing the paste gently.

    The best strategy is to start cautiously to feel the chip's fragility. That doesn't mean it will fall apart in your hands, but it will help you remember not to use too much force early on.

    After you've scrubbed away most of the remaining paste, you should be able to see some nooks and crannies that are still dirty. Even if you can't see this, it's recommended to do the next step.

    You must use onecotton swabwith alcohol to reach those tight spots. This is the only way to ensure GPU or CPU cleaning.

    (Video) Should you replace your video card's thermal paste??

    After you have completely cleaned the old folder, you can proceed to apply the replacement. The instructions for applying to a new CPU are the same, so we won't repeat ourselves.

    If you notice uneven distribution of the existing paste, or if your paste is quickly failing to conduct heat properly, you may want to change your application method.

    You might also like these

    • Thermal paste x grease x pads - what's the difference?

    • What is a GPU bottleneck?

    • APU vs CPU vs GPU - What's the difference?

      (Video) BEGINNERS GUIDE: How To Change Laptop Thermal Paste


    How do I apply thermal paste to my GPU? ›

    So let's begin by going through the steps in order to replace the thermal paste on your GPU.
    1. Remove the card from your computer. ...
    2. Blow the card clean with compressed air. ...
    3. Remove the heatsink assembly. ...
    4. Clean the GPU and heatsink. ...
    5. Apply the thermal paste. ...
    6. Reassemble the heatsink. ...
    7. Reinstall the graphics card.
    Aug 27, 2022

    Do you apply thermal paste to CPU or GPU? ›

    You can use thermal pads with your CPU, you can buy them, they're available, but they aren't as good as thermal paste: That said, GPUs don't generally use thermal pads, almost always they use thermal paste.

    How do you apply thermal paste on CPU? ›

    Apply thermal paste onto the center of the CPU's IHS.

    (If you already have thermal paste pre-applied on your cooler, you can skip this step.) You only need to apply a small amount — roughly the size of a grain of rice or a pea — onto the center of the integrated heat spreader.

    How do I apply thermal paste to my laptop CPU and GPU? ›

    Apply the Thermal Paste Above the CPU and GPU. Place a very small drop of the thermal paste, no larger than a grain of rice, onto the surface of the central processing unit and graphics processing unit.

    Should I spread thermal paste on GPU? ›

    Many people overlook the importance of thermal paste in the GPU, simply because it's not that apparent. However, it's indeed important to keep an eye on your GPU and replace the thermal paste whenever it gets degraded. In this post, we talk about how you can apply thermal paste on your GPU the correct way.

    Do you put thermal paste directly on the CPU? ›

    Applying thermal paste is a crucial part of the PC building process. The paste is applied on top of the Integrated Heat Spreader (IHS) of the CPU to make sure there are no air gaps between that and the metal base of the CPU cooler.

    Should I spread thermal paste on CPU? ›

    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.

    What is the best thermal paste method? ›

    Case study summary: The best thermal paste pattern

    On the other hand, if you're not experienced in controlling the volume, the buttered toast method is the top choice for you. That's because you can spread the paste evenly across the CPU and get rid of excessive paste by using a spreader or spatula.

    Should I dot or spread thermal paste? ›

    All in all, you should always spread the thermal paste if it doesn't have good fluidity. However, thermal pastes that don't have good fluidity, are often not top-quality pastes either. So, you may end up with air bubbles and reduced thermal performance anyway.

    Can you apply too much thermal paste? ›

    Remember that if you spread thermal paste too thick, this could actively work against the heat transfer taking place. So one telltale sign of too much thermal paste is a high CPU temperature. The heat isn't able to efficiently transfer into the heatsink, so it remains in the CPU.

    Can you spread thermal paste with finger? ›

    People often argue on what is the best method to apply thermal pastes. Some spread it with the CPU cooler's pressure, while others use fingers, cards, and spatulas to perform the same task.

    Can too much thermal paste cause overheating? ›

    Don't put on too much thermal paste

    When you apply too much thermal paste, it can act like an insulator. At best case, this may make the paste ineffective, and at worst case, you may damage components via overheating. Make sure that you apply a thin layer of paste to your component.

    How much thermal paste do I need for CPU and GPU? ›

    But there's one exception, and it can get messy. When it comes to applying thermal paste, less is more: a small, pea-sized drop is all you need. Don't spread it around, either—the heatsink will spread it out evenly as you screw it in.

    What happens if you don't put thermal paste on CPU? ›

    This allows the heat to transfer from the CPU to the Heat sink, keeping the CPU cooler and at a nominal operating temperature. Not using thermal paste between the CPU and the heat sink will cause it to eventually overheat and fail.

    What happens if you put too much thermal paste on GPU? ›

    Place a small pea-sized drop of your new thermal paste on the graphic chip center. Do not apply too much Thermal Paste, it can spill over the sides of the Graphic chip which can cause issues and it will be a mess to clean up.

    How long does thermal paste last in a GPU? ›

    In general thermal paste lasts for about 2 to 4 years on your CPU or GPU or any other chip. Your thermal paste can last as short as 2 years to as long as 10 years depending on the cooling system, weather, usage, and the quality of the compound.

    What is normal GPU temp? ›

    While gaming, if you see GPU temperatures in the range of 80 to 85 °C, then we can call it a normal temperature. If you take at some modern Nvidia GPUs, then temperatures in the range of 70 to 85 °C fall under “normal”. Similarly, for AMD GPUs, GPU Temperatures in the range of 65 to 75 °C are “normal”.

    Is 1 gram of thermal paste enough for CPU and GPU? ›

    Unless your laptop has a desktop processor (yes, they do exist) and a discreet graphics chip (if it has anything nvidia on it, or an intel with an amd processor would also have a discreet unit in most likelihood).. then yes, 1G should be more than sufficient to re-paste your laptop a time or two.

    How often should you reapply thermal paste to GPU? ›

    In most cases, replacing GPU thermal paste will only be necessary after 5 to 10 years. And even then, if you are an advanced user, there's a chance that you may be upgrading your GPU completely and would no longer need to reapply any thermal solution.

    How often should you apply thermal paste to CPU? ›

    6 years is the normal frequency when you should be replacing thermal paste, but that number goes down when you're running applications that demand a lot of CPU usage on a daily. I'd say that a reasonable frequency would maybe be every 2 years or so.

    How thick should thermal paste be? ›

    The recommended thermal grease thickness after spreading of thermal grease is 100 µm.

    Is there something better than thermal paste? ›

    Beeswax is a valid alternative to thermal paste. Like all other alternatives, it can only work for a few days. It then becomes extremely brittle, and it is very easy for it to break. If it can be stabilized it is a good solution.

    Is Thicker thermal paste better? ›

    A high-viscosity thermal paste, on the other hand, behaves more like a solid. It doesn't flow that easily and could be harder to spread using a spreader or spatula. But — it sits better on the CPU once you have applied it correctly. Simply put, you don't want a paste that's too thin or too thick.

    Is Arctic Silver 5 the best? ›

    There are a lot of different manufacturers selling thermal compounds, but Arctic Silver 5 is considered by many to be the best. It provides excellent heat transfer performance and is easy to use.

    What is worse too much or too little thermal paste? ›

    According to our case study, a CPU that doesn't have enough thermal paste performs substantially worse than the one which has. In most cases, a CPU with too little thermal paste performs even worse than a CPU with too much thermal paste.

    Does it matter what brand of thermal paste? ›

    Good thermal paste can have a profound impact on your performance, because it will allow your processor to transfer more of its waste heat to your cooler, keeping your processor running cool. Choosing the best thermal paste is also important if you plan on overclocking your rig to its fullest.

    Should I wipe off excess thermal paste? ›

    Give the heatsink and processor a chance to dry.

    Remember: after you remove all traces of old paste, you want to wipe the heatsink and processor with another application of rubbing alcohol or cleaner. Do not apply new paste immediately after doing so.

    What are the disadvantages of thermal paste? ›

    Thermal Paste Disadvantages

    Thermal paste is dirt cheap per gram, but the major disadvantage is its thermal conductivity. Thermal paste's thermal conductivity doesn't stand a chance compared to liquid metal.

    Is Vaseline a thermal paste? ›

    Another solution to use as thermal paste can be obtained by mixing very fine aluminum powder with vaseline oil. The mixture must be blended for at least 10 minutes, in order to avoid the presence of little air bubbles.

    Is it OK if thermal paste gets on pins? ›

    By not removing thermal paste from your pins, you are effectively obstructing your computer's processing power. Depending on which types of pins are blocked, your PC might not even boot up at all. So yes, cleaning the thermal paste off is a must.

    Can you use glue instead of thermal paste? ›

    Although thermal glue will in theory perform the same function as thermal paste, it's not recommended to use it between the heatsink and CPU because once it's bonded it can be very difficult to separate.

    What is the proper way to apply thermal paste? ›

    Place a small amount of thermal paste onto the base of the cooler. Using a plastic finger protector or a plastic bag, use your finger to spread the paste evenly across the surface. Make sure to cover the entire surface that will be in contact with the processor, and ensure that you do not apply the paste too thick.

    Does applying thermal paste improve performance on GPU? ›

    The paste-like substance in between your CPU and heatsink; used for dissipating heat. However, you may not know that thermal paste is crucial in the GPU, too. That's right, just like how thermal paste is used to regulate the temperature of your CPU, it's used to cool down your GPU, as well.

    What is the best thermal paste pattern? ›

    Case study summary: The best thermal paste pattern

    On the other hand, if you're not experienced in controlling the volume, the buttered toast method is the top choice for you. That's because you can spread the paste evenly across the CPU and get rid of excessive paste by using a spreader or spatula.

    What happens if you apply thermal paste wrong? ›

    If the TIM (Thermal Interface Material, the correct term for paste) is conductive, too much will do more than just make a mess; it can short out your MOBO. Even if the TIM is not conductive (such as Arctic MX-4, for example), too much TIM may not compress thinly enough and will not transfer heat as well.

    Do you have to clean CPU before applying thermal paste? ›

    A few things to keep in mind before starting: Make sure that the CPU is clean, and that there isn't any old thermal paste on it. If there is, carefully remove the old paste from the lid of the CPU with isopropyl alcohol and a microfiber cloth or paper towel that doesn't shed, and let it dry before continuing.


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