Preparing to Apply the Thermal Paste
There's alot of schools of thought as to apply thermal paste, and even more discussion on whether the thermal pad applied to most heat sinks is sufficient. For most of us that push our systems, the basic thermal pad isn't enough. This isn't a discussion of the merits of either, as it is out of scope for this subject.
I first removed the thermal tape from the bottom of the Vantec HSF being used for this project. To do this, I used an old credit card, that had a sharpened long edge. Any firm plastic will do. AVOID using metal, as it will scar the HSF surface, and possibly seriously degrade the performance of the HSF. The smoothness of the surface is what allows the heat to transfer, and gouges in the suface caused by metal implements disrupts this. Once the main part of the tape has been removed, I remove any adhesive residue with a good solvent, one that is NOT petroluem based, and leaves little or no residue of it's own.
Some hobbyists use household solvents, and even orange extract cleaner, and have experienced no adverse results. One builder reported that orange extract cleaner was superb for not only removing thermal tape residue, but also cleaining off thermal paste from the CPU ceramic, as it leaves very little residue, and no oils.
Now that the HSF surface is clean and ready, it's time to focus on the setup for paste application. Alot of people do not go to the extent that this example does. I just have hands like a grizzily bear, and tend to do better with a process like this. Pick your own destiny. As can be see from the photo, find a good piece of semi-regid cardboard, and cut out a section as illustrated.
Apply a small bead of the Artic Silver (II in this case) across the front edge of the cardboard, as shown in the photo above. This will allow us to use the carboard applicator as a spatular, and allow us to "butter" the ceramic with the paste.
Applying the Thermal Paste
As can see from the photo at left, the 'applicator' is held at an angle to CPU ceramic, and make gentle swipes from one end of the ceramic to the other. Take your time to spead the paste, this is not a task that should ever be rushed.
If you find that you have applied too much paste, you can wipe off the applicator, and then use it as a mini-plow to remove the excess paste, being careful not to rake any off the ceramic, and onto the chip.
Once you have the paste in a thin layer across the whole CPU ceramic (the part thats all grey in the photo at left), you are done!.
If you "miss" and spill or smear the paste across any of the other connections on the CPU, you will need to stop, and clean all the paste off the chip with a good solvent, as mentioned above. Whats works the best for this author is to have some first aid gauze about, and make a small cirular wad, and bind it with hemostats, or crimpable pliars so that you have a Q-tip of sorts(If you don't have any long sticked electronic Q-tips).
This affords the ability to clean the area up nicely without removing the CPU from the socket, althou there are times where it's best to remove the CPU and clean the paste.
Side Note: Before actually applying the thermal paste, you should practice setting the HSF on the CPU socket a few times. Do this with the Processor in place in order to get a good estimate of the proper aignment of the HSF to CPU socket. You want to make sure that no part of the HSF rests on the beveled incline (step) as this cause the HSF to sit on the CPU core at an angle, which will crack the ceramic core of the cpu when the pressure of the clip is applied, at the very least it will prevent proper contact with the processor core and HSF resulting in overheating and premature failure of the CPU.
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Should I build, or should I buy?Setting an Inventory and Ordering it AllSetting up the Work AreaHaving the right tools for the jobForming an "Order of Battle" Arranging your parts, and getting started!Case Preparation and Power Supply considerationsMain Board PreparationCpu Alignment and Mounting
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