PC Components

How To Apply Thermal Paste on GPU & CPU

Thermal Paste

Computers can occasionally be tricky when looking at the grand scheme of things. However, they are extremely powerful and control a substantial amount of our lives. Whether you use a computer to email presentations about work, contact clients, keep in touch with your team via Slack, or keep in touch with friends and family, computers are an extension of our brains.

Most people these days know how to use a computer. In fact, newer generations will be born without ever knowing what life was like before an iPad or iPhone. It’s become such an intricate part of our lives that when we have problems with our computers, we go crazy?

Have you ever had a computer crash on you and then lost a substantial amount of your work? Most of us have had something like this happen to us. You punch a wall, a window, and hit your friend, but you never get the word back if it wasn’t correctly saved.

Even though computers control such a substantial amount of our lives, very few of us know how a computer actually works on the inside. Many people know how to turn on a computer and load up our internet browser, but not many of us will be privy to the actual physics behind what’s going on on the inside.

Computer Chips and Structure

What makes a computer function properly? Computer chips, of course. Computer chips are made up of silicon and tens of millions of tiny nodes or transistors that conduct electricity to make sure the computer can store data, process, and communicate.

According to Moors Law, the computing power should double every two years. The way that the computer doubles is that more nodes are fit into an ever-smaller space. With current lithography techniques, these nodes can be close to the size of an individual atom in the most advanced processors.

Electricity is fed through these chips and processors, and the computer communicates with either an on or off a selection of the nodes. This results in either 1 or 0, which is also called Binary Code. Computers communicate by using an assortment of 1s and 0s, Binary Code.

Thermal Paste and Computers

Computers use electricity being fed into the computer to run through the semiconductor and process. Unfortunately, this can sometimes cause the computer to overheat and run into trouble with the conductivity process.

The conductivity process makes sure the semiconductors in the computer are correctly conducting the electricity being pumped into them appropriately. This is where Thermal Paste comes in.

Thermal paste is not the same thing as Thermal Adhesive. Thermal Paste doesn’t have the same sticky qualities as Thermal Adhesive. The goal of Thermal Paste is to conduct heat from the chip to the heatsink. It is used to conduct electricity and heat, not to stick things together.

If you are a seasoned computer building veteran, you have probably used Thermal Paste a number of times. Typically, you are using it when building a new computer from scratch. However, you also need to use it when installing new chips or if you feel that the old Thermal Paste is not working anymore or needs to be re-applied.

You are in luck for those not so familiar with computers and who need to apply Thermal Paste to the inside! With these easy steps, you can apply thermal paste to your computer, and it will appear you are an expert with a degree from MIT!

Step #1: Select the Paste. 

Once you confirm that you will need to apply thermal paste to your computer, you need to see what type of past you will use.

Your computer might be a special type of brand-new system that needs thermal paste applied, or you might be running into problems with the cooling system. For whatever reason it may be, you need to invest in Thermal Paste.

Typically for something so essential to the functioning of a computer, and thus the functioning of life, you don’t’ want to bargain hunt. The more expensive the paste is, the better it will be. It will have a better ingredient structure to last longer and conduct better.

The Thermal Paste will come in a syringe or tooth paste like container. Remember that typically more is better. So make sure you are getting a good quality paste in with a good application to administer.

Step #2: Select the Chip/chips you want to use the paste on

Either you have new chips or old chips you want to apply the Thermal Paste to. Ensure that the chips you are selecting to apply the paste are correctly installed.

Firstly, see if the chip is appropriately installed according to the manual. Then, make sure that the chip is nice and snug and secure. This is important because if the chip is not installed properly and tight, then the paste will be the least of your problems.

Make sure you are being extra careful with the chip! Even one damaged node can be a catastrophe!

Step #3: Find the Heatsink

The heatsink is what keeps your computer relatively cool. It’s essential in the overall process of your semiconductors conducting electricity in your computer.

What the heatsink does is redirect the heat flow away from the hot component. You will typically find a heatsink with a fan component and plastic mini-towers.

The heatsink will be attached to the chips using this thermal paste. However, it doesn’t stick together, and it just handles the conduction of electricity.

Step #4: Apply the Paste

Now is the time to apply the paste to the heatsink and chips. There are several different methods to do this; however, we are going to deal with probably the most popular and useful, dotting and crossing.

With the Dot method, you look for the center of the processor. You then lower the heatsink unto the semiconductor or CPU slowly. Make sure that you are lowering this carefully. A nudge too far, and it can damage your chip.

The Cross method is another popular method of applying the paste. Here you use less thermal paste, but it covers a greater area. You effectively cross two lines on the chip. For instance, a  + or an X cross should work find. Like the Dot method, you need to lower the heatsink onto the semiconductor or CPU gently.

Step #5: Close your Computer and Boot Up

Now that you have successfully applied the thermal paste to your CPU, close the computer back up. Then take the computer to your preferred electrical outlet and boot it back up.

Now your computer should be working perfectly with either the new chips or the new paste. The longevity of thermal paste is relatively long, so you shouldn’t be required to do it again for a very long time. If you buy new chips, you will need to follow these steps again.

Thermal Paste and Your Computer Together

Now that you have read this easy-to-follow instruction guide, you should be good to go with the thermal paste application on your computer and CPU. However, this is just one element related to the ever-complicated task of building or maintaining a computer from the inside.

If you want to learn more about how computers work, the first step is to understand how exactly the semiconductors and processors work. This is the first step to understanding how electricity flows through computers to process data.

The language of computers is done through 0s and 1s. This, however, might change with the greater prevalence of quantum computing. In quantum computing, computers can communicate both 1 and 0 simultaneously, leading to a substantially greater process time.

Once you understand this basic concept of how computers function, you can learn the rest relatively quickly. From how the computer communicates with your monitor or why the words you type show up on the screen.

Data processing and computing are the lifeblood of everything else that happens in your life these days.

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