Applying Thermal Paste? 4 Things You Need to Know

If you are looking to apply thermal interface material, also known as thermal paste, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind to ensure that you are maximizing product efficiency and ensuring proper heat dissipation.

Do remember to clean first.

Start with a clean working area. It is best to lay both thermal surfaces face up. Use a dry cloth or paper to wipe away any loose debris or surface material. Cotton balls or cotton swabs are also recommended.

You may wipe both surfaces with alcohol; do be sure to let it dry completely. Alcohol can also be an effective way to remove old thermal paste from your components.

It’s important to note that old thermal paste shouldn’t be re-used, so if you do separate the heatsink, make sure and wipe up all old materials, clean thoroughly, and apply new thermal paste before reattaching.

Do make sure you have a completely clear surface.

Never underestimate the importance of cleaning both surfaces; dirt, oil, debris or residue can all interfere with cooling performance.

Remove all stickers and labels. Without a clear surface, there’s no way to maintain proper heat dissipation. To avoid having to repeat this process, it’s important to clear everything away the first time.

Don’t put on too much thermal paste

If you only take away one of these tips, we recommend that it be this one. When you apply too much thermal paste, depending on the quality of the paste you’ve selected, it can actually have the opposite effect of what you intend.

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. Remember, the entire point of the thermal paste is to fill in the tiny gaps between the two components. When applied properly, the paste should facilitate a better transfer of thermal energy.

Don’t choose a mediocre thermal paste

This goes without saying. There are many downsides to choosing a subpar thermal paste, including expensive equipment repairs and/or replacements. The benefits of selecting a quality thermal paste, such as ShinEtsu’s X23-7783D are numerous.

Benefits include reduced and/or zero curing time, faster processor speeds, and prolonged longevity of components.

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