[SOLVED] Question regarding removing a CPU cooler from CPU once Thermal Paste was applied

Yeldur

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Hi all

I've been building my rig and only once I finished my build did I notice that I did something stupid, and that is that I applied my Memory into the wrong DIMM slots... Meaning that the system won't POST when configured to run at 3600MHz (Because my stupid self put it into the Single Channel slots)

I have a large cooler, and to put it simply, in order to fix my mistake I will now have to remove my Soundcard, GPU and then my CPU cooler, however, I've already applied the Thermal Paste, and it has seen some use by this point (In the form of me benchmarking my RIG to check temps on the CPU)

The question I have:

How do I safely remove the Cooler from the CPU - Presumably now that the two are "meshed" together, it's going to be difficult to remove. Logic tells me that running the rig for a period of time to heat up the paste would be a good way to do this, but I'm not certain, so I wanted to ask people who knew better than I...

The other question also is.... Will I need to then re-apply Thermal Paste from scratch and buy isopropanol alcohol in order to clean up the paste before re-application?

I'm hoping I don't need to do this, but I want to be certain.

Thanks very much!
 

Karadjgne

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Good pastes generally last @ 8 years ±. Crappy pastes count on half of that. Some pastes, such as AS5 are iffy, they have a @ 200 heat cycle life as paste, but harden (doesn't affect properties whatsoever) or dry out, so as soon as that starts happening, you shouldn't reuse the paste and apply new.

There's always mitigating circumstances, exceptions to every rule. For those giving advice, best to err on the side of caution, always repaste, it's not going to hurt. For those taking the advice, weigh the advice given. Often there's reasons why you shouldn't just put the cooler back on, that will trap air, but for relatively new paste, that's respread, it's no different to a new application.

Ryzens don't have as strong a locking mechanism as the older AM series, so with thicker, more sticky pastes that can be an issue where you literally pull the cpu out of the socket while still locked and attached to the cooler. This can damage pins easily.

Most pastes are silicone based greasy type pastes that contain other chemicals and compounds. Mixing pastes can have funky seperation results or good mixing results, unknown which, so mixing pastes is never a good idea. But adding the same paste without cleaning, you get older paste which has already had evaporation, chemical breakdown etc and that's why you clean off older pastes.
 
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How do I safely remove the Cooler from the CPU - Presumably now that the two are "meshed" together, it's going to be difficult to remove. Logic tells me that running the rig for a period of time to heat up the paste would be a good way to do this, but I'm not certain, so I wanted to ask people who knew better than I...
just wiggle the cpu cooler a little bit, and it will come loose from the thermal paste.

The other question also is.... Will I need to then re-apply Thermal Paste from scratch and buy isopropanol alcohol in order to clean up the paste before re-application?
it's up to you to re apply the thermal paste, and even a 70% alcohol or even the hand sanitizer gel would be enough to remove the paste, i tried many method and yes it works, just need a little bit of force, would be better if the alcohol is 91% or more.
 

Karadjgne

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  1. Heating is advisable for a Ryzen cpu where the viscous nature of the paste can act like glue and stick tight to the cpu, possibly yanking it from the socket. With Intel, that can't happen once the cpu is locked in.
  2. Always clean/reapply paste with any cooler removal. With a new application the isopropyl isn't needed unless you are changing pastes. Simply wiping off the surfaces with lint-free paper/cloth /coffee filter is fine.
  3. Removal is easy, undo whatever lock/screws hold the cooler down, give it a slight twist and she'll come free. Just use a light touch, no ham-fisted techniques. The two aren't 'meshed' as such, the paste is nothing more than a medium to fill in any gaps between the cpu and cooler
 
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Tip I learned a while back, boot up your pc for about 5 minutes. Enough to get the cpu a little warm. Then when you go to pull the cpu, the cooler should come off easier.

Like stated above, twist the cooler gently back and forth to break the seal. Don’t just start pulling I straight up.
 
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Yeldur

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Thanks everyone for the answers so far, appreciated heavily!

So to clarify:

  1. My CPU is Ryzen, so I should boot it up for a bit and then gently lift by wiggling side to side in order to loosen it up, to prevent me ripping the CPU out of its socket
  2. I should re-apply Thermal Paste
  3. I shouldn't need to apply Isopropanol and should use either A) Coffee Filter, B) Lint-Free Toilet Paper or C) Cloth - With respect of the cloth, are there any pre-requisites? Any specific types of cloth I need to avoid? I'm presuming that the answer is "Anything that could leave behind a residue" but want to make sure
 
Starting up for about 5 minutes will be sufficient. When you remove the cooler, think rotate back and forth a couple of times.

As far as cloth, an old t shirt will work. Just ground yourself to the case before touching components, be gentle with parts, be sure to wipe all the paste from the cpu and heatsink.

Not sure what paste you are using, I used to use arctic silver 5, but personally I like put a small amount in the center of the cpu, about the size of a grain of rice, then use my finger to spread it evenly over the cpu. After that I just reseat the heatsink. Some prefer to just put paste on the cpu and just put the cooler on the cpu. But everyone has their method.
 

Karadjgne

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Intels and AMD APU's are a monolithic die, under that heatshield is a single chunk of silicon, dead center. So the small blob works very well to get good coverage. Ryzen use multiple dies, there's a large one towards the left and 2 or 3 towards the right. This puts the corners/edges of those chunks of silicon much closer to the hestshield edge/corners.

So for Ryzen, I personally stopped recommending the blob, if it's a fraction too small or out of round, it's entirely possible to leave silicon without benefit of paste protection.

So for me, it's the credit card/spatula, spread it like thin peanut butter and cover the whole IHS. No mistakes, no question, no guessing, just a nice thin almost see-through layer.

I'd also not recommend AS5 for a Ryzen. Once it's heat cured and hardens, it's going to grab that cpu like concrete and needs the seal broken in order to safely remove the cooler from the cpu.

Arctic MX-4, Noctua 1 or 2, thermal grizzly Kryonaut, pk-3, gelid extreme, CM MasterGel Maker are good.

Cotton. Don't use micro-fiber cloths as they are static monsters, as is anything nylon, rayon etc.
 
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InvalidError

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Always reapply thermal paste if you've removed the heat sink, as air would have gotten in and ruined the thermal contact when you put it back
A bunch of people around tech sites and channels on YT have tested a bunch of paste application methods including completely retarded ones that should be trapping tons of air and at the end of the day found out that it makes almost no difference whatsoever unless you are chasing those last 1-2C for extreme overclocking. As long as the paste application is still fresh, reusing will be fine.
 
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Yeldur

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A bunch of people around tech sites and channels on YT have tested a bunch of paste application methods including completely retarded ones that should be trapping tons of air and at the end of the day found out that it makes almost no difference whatsoever unless you are chasing those last 1-2C for extreme overclocking. As long as the paste application is still fresh, reusing will be fine.
Hmmm, so I don't need to re-apply Thermal Paste at all then? I have to admit this is preferable, but I'll see what the "spread" looks like once I remove the cooler I suppose, though, right now I don't have anything suitable around that I could use to remove the Thermal Paste, so I'll have to order something online before doing so. (All my old shirts got used to clean my motorbike chain, so they're a TAD oily, probably not the best thing for a CPU :ROFLMAO:)

Intels and AMD APU's are a monolithic die, under that heatshield is a single chunk of silicon, dead center. So the small blob works very well to get good coverage. Ryzen use multiple dies, there's a large one towards the left and 2 or 3 towards the right. This puts the corners/edges of those chunks of silicon much closer to the hestshield edge/corners.

So for Ryzen, I personally stopped recommending the blob, if it's a fraction too small or out of round, it's entirely possible to leave silicon without benefit of paste protection.

So for me, it's the credit card/spatula, spread it like thin peanut butter and cover the whole IHS. No mistakes, no question, no guessing, just a nice thin almost see-through layer.

I'd also not recommend AS5 for a Ryzen. Once it's heat cured and hardens, it's going to grab that cpu like concrete and needs the seal broken in order to safely remove the cooler from the cpu.

Arctic MX-4, Noctua 1 or 2, thermal grizzly Kryonaut, pk-3, gelid extreme, CM MasterGel Maker are good.

Cotton. Don't use micro-fiber cloths as they are static monsters, as is anything nylon, rayon etc.
In this instance I've used Thermal Grizzlies Kryonaught which was recommended by Gamers Nexus, so I figured I'd go with that. I did actually find that what you've stated is true though, originally I did the "apply paste, smoosh, then take off and see" method and the coverage wasn't all the way there, so I ended up applying a tiiiiiiiiiiiny bit more thermal paste on the part that wasn't fully covered, repeated and after that point it was fine.


As a matter of general curiosity and interest in learning, why can't we simply apply Thermal Paste on top of Thermal paste already there? Would it not plug the gaps effectively, or is it just that the old and the new simply cannot function together, or something else entirely?
 
Thanks everyone for the answers so far, appreciated heavily!

So to clarify:

  1. My CPU is Ryzen, so I should boot it up for a bit and then gently lift by wiggling side to side in order to loosen it up, to prevent me ripping the CPU out of its socket
  2. I should re-apply Thermal Paste
  3. I shouldn't need to apply Isopropanol and should use either A) Coffee Filter, B) Lint-Free Toilet Paper or C) Cloth - With respect of the cloth, are there any pre-requisites? Any specific types of cloth I need to avoid? I'm presuming that the answer is "Anything that could leave behind a residue" but want to make sure
  1. Do not "lift by wiggling". Wiggle first, then lift.
  2. Yes. Absolutely.
  3. You DO need to clean both the CPU and the heatsink on the cooler with Isopropyl (or something similar) alcohol. And yes, you should use either a coffee filter, lint free tp, or something similar.
 

Yeldur

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  1. Do not "lift by wiggling". Wiggle first, then lift.
  2. Yes. Absolutely.
  3. You DO need to clean both the CPU and the heatsink on the cooler with Isopropyl (or something similar) alcohol. And yes, you should use either a coffee filter, lint free tp, or something similar.
Hmmmm, okay.

I think overall given that I'm getting conflicting information (I.E. I don't need to re-apply Thermal Paste, I do need to clean and then re-apply etc etc.) I'm going to take the safest method and that's just simply to clean it and re-apply, ultimately at the end of the day I'd rather not kill my CPU, so if it means I wait a little longer to get Isopropynol and some lint free toilet paper then it's whatever. I'm feeling even more stupid for installing the RAM in the wrong DIMM slots now as I've got to waste even more time now o_Oo_Oo_O - The joys of PC building I suppose (And perhaps a reason to buy a closed-loop watercooler next time hahahahaha)
 
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sonofjesse

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Never had issue with intel CPU's, but the ryzen chips is glued on once the paste gets on no amoutn of wiggle does anything, even after the PC been on for hours.

Maybe do a benchmarking for like 4 hours would help on it.

I just dont' plan on ever touching the cooler/cpu in this board again lol.
 

Loadedaxe

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I dont know about the issues others have had getting the coolers of a AMD cpu. I have never had an issue, then again I use a thin layer of paste. You dont need a ton. I just twist it back and forth a few times and it comes right of. Use a coffee filter to remove paste, flip it a add some alcohol wipe of the residue and with a old credit card reapply a thin layer.
 

Karadjgne

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Good pastes generally last @ 8 years ±. Crappy pastes count on half of that. Some pastes, such as AS5 are iffy, they have a @ 200 heat cycle life as paste, but harden (doesn't affect properties whatsoever) or dry out, so as soon as that starts happening, you shouldn't reuse the paste and apply new.

There's always mitigating circumstances, exceptions to every rule. For those giving advice, best to err on the side of caution, always repaste, it's not going to hurt. For those taking the advice, weigh the advice given. Often there's reasons why you shouldn't just put the cooler back on, that will trap air, but for relatively new paste, that's respread, it's no different to a new application.

Ryzens don't have as strong a locking mechanism as the older AM series, so with thicker, more sticky pastes that can be an issue where you literally pull the cpu out of the socket while still locked and attached to the cooler. This can damage pins easily.

Most pastes are silicone based greasy type pastes that contain other chemicals and compounds. Mixing pastes can have funky seperation results or good mixing results, unknown which, so mixing pastes is never a good idea. But adding the same paste without cleaning, you get older paste which has already had evaporation, chemical breakdown etc and that's why you clean off older pastes.
 
Last edited:
I almost always used arctic silver 5 unless I couldn’t get it, and never had an issue. Typically start the system for 5 minutes, shut down, twist the cooler a couple of times and it was good.

You aren’t supposed to slather thermal paste on like you are gluing stuff together. You want a very thin uniform layer. If you use too much you can actually cook your cpu slowly, because the extra paste can actually insulate your chip, so think of your cpu being like an oven where heat escapes slowly.

I know some guys like kryonaut, I bought a tube of that stuff because it’s supposed to be good stuff. To me, kryonaut was a pain in the rear. Spent like 10 bucks and threw the bottle away. I don’t personally care for their application method. So I went back to arctic silver 5 at that time. I heard they discontinued silver 5, but I have arctic mx4 on hand.
 

Yeldur

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Thanks for all the advice guys, it's hard to pick a best answer as there are so many good answers, so I've gone with who has helped the most, and that would be Karadjgne. Thanks again! Can't wait to go on my journey of removing Thermal Paste.

Closed-loop watercoolers use paste, too!
Oh I know that end of things, I more meant that my air cooler is the Noctua DH-15, so it's a beast of a cooler, but because of that it's so large, which means I can't get to my RAM without removing the Cooler; if I was working with a closed-loop watercooler however, I'd be able to access my RAM and shift it around hahahaha.
 

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