Stephen Pomeroy is the owner of Pomeroy Computing (www.pcrepairhelp.net) and has been performing laptop and desktop pc repairs since 2005. He is a A+ certified technician with 17 years of experience in diagnosing and repairing notebook and desktop computers.
Good thermal paste and the proper application of it is crucial to any computer but especially important on a laptop. Notebooks are getting thinner and thinner and proper heat management is a must.
If your laptop’s thermal paste has degraded over time and needs replacement, this is important for a longer lifespan of your computer.
What is thermal paste?
Thermal paste is a compound that goes in between the heatsink and CPU or GPU of your desktop or laptop computer. It helps transfer heat (conducts heat) from the CPU and into the heatsink where the fan will blow onto that heatsink and cool it down.
Without it your computer would overheat dramatically, and damage can occur. Thermal paste has a lifespan and needs to be removed and reapplied every so often. I recommend reapplying it every couple of years. If you do high-end tasks such as gaming or video editing it might need it every year.
How To Remove And Reapply Thermal Paste
The best way to safely remove thermal paste is a thin towel and 99% isopropyl alcohol. You want to use 99% because it has very little water in it vs. something like the 70% you buy at a drugstore. This extra 30% of water can damage your motherboard and shouldn’t be used. You might need to order it online as it can be hard to obtain locally.
Once you have the proper towel and alcohol you can wipe the old existing thermal compound off the CPU and or GPU. In the video, you will see an example of this on a hp specter laptop motherboard.
I remove the old burned-up thermal paste with a paper towel and 99% alcohol until the CPU and GPU are totally free from it.
What thermal paste should I use?
I highly recommend to everyone that you purchase Artic Silver 5 thermal compound. This has been the leading type for many years, and I’ve had amazing results in better cooling performance when using it. It’s around $9 USD and should come with an applicator to apply it properly.
How do I apply thermal compound?
If you have an open-die CPU or GPU (typically on a laptop) then you don’t need much. Usually, half the size of a bb or the quarter size of a pea should be enough. You need to push it out slowly from the tube and onto the CPU or GPU.
If you accidentally use too much you can wipe it clean and start over. Once applied, take the applicator provided and “brush it on” smoothly. You want to try and reduce as many air pockets as possible and get a nice even coat on the processor. You shouldn’t have any exposed CPU or GPU die after it’s been applied properly.
I applied new thermal paste, now what?
Now it is time to put the heatsink back on and reassemble the laptop. I advise you to search the web and get some type of hardware monitoring software that lets you check the temperature of your CPU and GPU.
You can take these readings and make sure they are within the normal range of your processor’s recommended temperatures. If the temperature is running too hot, then you might need to reapply the thermal paste and make sure the heatsink is sitting flush with your CPU and or GPU.
Thermal paste is essential for your computer’s cooling and is a great maintenance repair you can do on your own to keep your computer running properly. It can add years of extra life when it comes to how greatly it can affect overheating issues. In the video, you can see the steps from start to finish when it comes to removing and reapplying thermal compounds on your laptop.