The CPU is the brain of the computer system and it performs multiple operations at one time. Because of the multiple and highly complex operations, there is fluctuation in the temperature of the CPU. That time thermal paste manages the heat transfer and maintains the temperature of the CPU.
Important Terms One Should Know
- Central Processing Unit (CPU): It is the information processing unit of a computer. The CPU executes all the operations in the PC and sends instructions to the other hardware in the computer. CPU is the brain of the PC. The latest CPUs execute high operations each second that generates high heat. For better functioning and great efficiency, the CPU needs to cool down by using a cooling apparatus.
- Integrated Heat Spreader (IHS): IHS is the metal lid of the CPU. IHS works as a heat sink and distributes the heat from the processor to the CPU cooler. It also protects the processor from the inside. Moreover, it is the exposed part of the CPU after installation and the surface where you apply the thermal paste.
- CPU Cooler: The CPU cooler manages the temperature of the CPU. It usually uses air or liquid to maintain the optimal temperature of the CPU while the system is performing highly complex operations.
- Base Plate: It’s a metallic base of an air cooler that is connected to the Integrated Heat Spreader of the CPU. The design and the material of the base plate allow the heat transfer through the convection process. It transfers the heat to the fins of the heat sink, where it is radiated in the environment with the help of radiator fans.
- Water Block: Water Block is the second part that is attached to the base plate. It ensures that water is contained safely while providing hosing for the optimal water cooling loop using an All In One liquid cooler or custom cooling loop to reduce the temperature of the CPU. However, it transfers the heat from the heat spreader to the heat transfer liquid. The heat transfer fluid then relocates the heat which is then radiated by fans at a radiator.
- Thermal Paste: Thermal paste is a silver-grey substance. It enhances the heat transfer from the IHS of the processor to the base plate or water block of the CPU cooler, thus optimizes the overall heat dissipation of the CPU.
The Requirement of Thermal Paste
Indeed the metal base of the CPU cooler and the IHS of the CPU looks neat and smooth, but these metal plates have minor imperfections that can lead to poor heat transfer. Because of imperfections, these two surfaces are not fully contacted.
Things To Avoid
- Use the correct amount of thermal paste which is of pea-size. Apply a sufficient amount of thermal paste on the surface to be effective. And too much paste can reduce the effectiveness of the paste and also, it can spoil the motherboard during installation.
- The manual pressure on the cooler base plate can be tempting for you. Let the pressure from the base plate or water block help you with the installation process. Wrong application, can cause air bubbles in the thermal paste which can affect the thermal conductivity.
- Re-application of the thermal paste can cause more air bubbles. If there is any problem during installation, remove the CPU cooler. Now, clean all the paste and re-start the process again. For long term use, apply thermal paste properly and install the CPU cooler.
How frequent one should replace Thermal Paste?
In most cases, there is no requirement of replacing the thermal paste for years. But if you remove the cooler, you have to apply the thermal paste again. Also, if you are experiencing high CPU temperature, you should change thermal paste for better heat transfer.
However, people don’t talk a lot about thermal paste as some don’t even know its application and importance. But it maintains the optimum temperature of hardware like CPU or GPU. So, it’s important that you should have deep knowledge about the thermal application and how to apply it before installing the CPU cooler.