Is thermal paste necessary?

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EucleX

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I am going to upgrade my CPU and I was wondering if I am going to need thermal paste for the fan. It's an Athlon X4 750k.
 

VincentP

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I really don't think this is what the OP was asking.
I can see the need though to correct some of the misinformation.

EucleX, your new CPU will come with a CPU cooler included.
This cooler will have a square of heat transfer material on the base.
If you are using this cooler, you do not need any other thermal paste.
This is different to the discussion above about not using any heat transfer material at all, which would be unwise.
If you have purchased an after market CPU cooler, this will come with thermal paste that must be applied.
 

Dazinek

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If your asking, do you need ANY thermal paste at all when placing the fan on the cpu... yes you do.

most cpu fans come with "pre-applied" paste... that stuff is crap, but if your just basic computing it is fine
 

Darkbreeze

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Yes. Thermal paste should always be used when installing or reinstalling a cpu. The old paste needs to be cleaned off the CPU and fan heatsink and a rice sized amount of thermal paste should be applied to the center of the cpu prior to installation. Use a lint free cloth or coffee filter with rubbing alcohol to clean the old paste off. There are plenty of tutorials on how to do it if you google it. Don't use a pea sized amount of paste, it's too much paste for newer cpus with smaller physical sizes. The type of thermal paste isn't that important for your usage as long as it's a mainstream brand.
 

Darkbreeze

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I think you meant "pre-applied", not "re-applied". Heh. Just so as not to confuse.
 

VincentP

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The stock CPU cooler will come with a thermal pad on the bottom of the heatsink.
This is perfectly fine for use with the stock cooler.
There is no reason to use thermal paste with this cooler and if you did want to, you would first have to clean off the thermal pad.

If you have bought an after market CPU cooler, this likely comes with thermal paste.
In this case, the paste must be used.
 

Dazinek

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Ooops.. typed that wrong, I meant pre-applied lol :)
 

epson

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i think the correct answer is no, it isn't. But highly highly recommended. Put it on and then check your temps, they will be alot higher, but i would guess still well within safe temps. Metal to metal transfers heat just fine, but there are tiny bumps on the surface, the paste fills these in. However if u do what i said, its at your own risk. That being said, most if not all modern equipment has temp sensors that will shut themselves down when they get to hot, so in my opinion, not much risk.
 

Darkbreeze

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And you're a fool if you think thermal paste, even if it's just mayonnaise, isn't necessary. And not that anybody is going to listen to that nonsense anyhow, but it's pretty irresponsible to try to pass the idea that it IS ok, on to somebody who might actually take you seriously. If you actually believe that nonsense, you need to start over from scratch and do your research. If it WASN'T necessary, we wouldn't even be having this conversation. I guess in a sense you're right, but by that way of thinking, it isn't really necessary to put oil in your car either. Oh, it will run without it, for a while. And it will shut down when it gets too hot too. Unfortunately, it tends to cause irreparable damage, just like repeatedly overheating a cpu to the point of thermal shut down does. You should be more cautious with your advice, lest you cause some inexperienced novice who isn't going to pay any attention to their thermal readings on any regular basis, to take you serious.
 

EucleX

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Well, I was at Fry's watching a guy build my PC and I didn't see him apply any thermal paste onto the processor? He simply put on the heat sink and nailed it down. It was an A4 5300.
 

EucleX

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I am going to swap out my CPU. What if my CPU doesn't come with thermal paste?
 

VincentP

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As I wrote earlier, stock CPU coolers do not come with thermal paste.
Instead, they have a thermal pad already attached to the base of the heatsink.
This pad does the same job as thermal paste but it is much more fool proof when installing.
Quality thermal paste may be a better conductor, but you only bother with this if also using a quality CPU cooler.
Unless over clocking, the stock cooler and the included thermal pad are fine.
 

epson

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i was very cautious with my advice, i gave plenty of warnings. But you also have obviously never put a heatsink on without thermal paste before and monitored what happened. In my first hand experience, nothing bad happened, ever. maybe i was lucky, or maybe your just passing on advertizement that thermal paste companys have shoved down our throats for years. Paste is designed to HELP transfer heat, and btw there are alot of cases where thermal paste HARMS the transfer of heat, aka badly applied, old, generic brand that insulates instead of transfering heat, ect ect. Until u, yourself, actually does it, u shouldn't comment. Its smart to use thermal paste sure, it will lower your heat sure, but u do realize what modern cpu's and gpu's are rated to withstand heat wise right? my "guess" is the only way u would maybe reach those temps without thermal paste is if you're using the stock coolers.


Lastly, don't call people fools. This is a debate, no need for personal attacks, sometimes being wrong or misinformed is hard to deal with but try to take it as a learning experience.

 

FinalDrive

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I would say apart from epson, everyone else Toms will tell you that yes, you do need to use thermal paste, or a thermal pad. It would be pretty unwise to not use it, as stated your CPU will heat up to the point of shutting down to prevent harm. This is a nice feature, but not meant for regular use, as the repeated overheating of the CPU will eventually lead to total failure, and if the sensor fails to shut it down in time it could become expensive to replace everything that dies. You should spend the $5-10 for a tube of decent paste and save yourself the headaches.

EucleX - There is a high likelyhood if they strapped the cooler to the CPU without applying paste, it probably had a pad on it. Was it a factory cooler that came with the CPU or an aftermarket one.
 

hunter315

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Thermal paste is ABSOLUTELY necessary for a CPU-heatsink application, no questions about it, there are lots of reviews that will back that up, i tend to reference the hardware secrets review where they saw no thermal paste hitting 62C, any thermal material(excluding chocolate) topped out at 43C
http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Thermal-Compound-Roundup-February-2012/1490/5

Now, you are correct that metal to metal transfers heat better than thermal paste, which is why heat pipes are soldered to their base because the metal conducts heat far better than any non-metallic interface would, HOWEVER when you have two surfaces that were not designed together you get worse results without thermal paste, the top of your CPU tends to be slightly curved, the base of the CPU cooler has tooling marks from being machined, this results in a very small actual contact area so while that contact area has better heat conductivity than it would flowing through the TIM, the limited area results in greatly increase temperatures.

IF AND ONLY IF the CPU and heatsink were designed side by side to be perfectly coplanar, with no curving or gaps, and were both polished to a very flat surface would you get better heat transfer by skipping thermal paste, using a non-lapped CPU and non-lapped cooler you should ALWAYS use thermal paste.

Check out frosty tech heatsink reviews to see just how rough some of them are, they do surface flatness and surface roughness checks at the start of all their reviews, you'll notice nothing is actually flat....
http://www.frostytech.com/
 

VincentP

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I really don't think this is what the OP was asking.
I can see the need though to correct some of the misinformation.

EucleX, your new CPU will come with a CPU cooler included.
This cooler will have a square of heat transfer material on the base.
If you are using this cooler, you do not need any other thermal paste.
This is different to the discussion above about not using any heat transfer material at all, which would be unwise.
If you have purchased an after market CPU cooler, this will come with thermal paste that must be applied.
 

EucleX

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It was a cooler than came with the A4 5300. I think it was most likely a pad.
 

EucleX

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Aha thanks man. This is really the answer I was looking for. There was a lot of commotion going on in this simple question xD
 

Darkbreeze

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Ok, I won't call you a fool. See, I didn't call you one. And it's not a debate, it's a fact. But apparently, Mr. " I've done it once so I know it works and you don't because you've never done it" , I haven't done it because during schooling where I received my A+ certification way back in the early 90's, they expressly relayed to us the importance of thermal compound.

After about 2500 CPU installations I think I'm qualified to say that indeed, you are a fool who is trying to spread foolishness to others. This is not a personal attack, it is simple fact. What is also apparent, is that you've never seen a thermal protection fail, a faulty sensor fail to engage the thermal protection, thermal runaway or a system without thermal paste that couldn't even run a single instance of a browser window without heating to the point that the thermal protection shut the unit down and in doing so made the unit useless until the processor was properly installed. Of course, by then thermal damage will have likely occurred and the CPU may never operate error free again. Or it might. But why would you ever risk it over 60 cents worth of paste and one minute of your time?

So, once again, it's a bad idea in any scenario and regardless of opinion. It is what it is.
 
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