[SOLVED] Removing Thermal paste from laptop CPU - Can thermal paste or alcohol damage the CPU/GPU or PCB?

ShangWang

Proper
Mar 26, 2021
460
2
185
0
I plan to remove thermal paste from my CPU and GPU on my laptop.

I'm going to use paper towels to wipe off the thermal paste, and then dip cotton swabs in 99% isopropyl alcohol to finish the job on the CPU & GPU as well as the leftover paste on the heatsink.

If I ever noticed there was too much thermal paste and it was spreading onto the PCB or outer edge of the CPU, will that cause any damage to the CPU or PCB?

Is there any chance of the alcohol damaging either one as well? Do laptop GPU or CPU have IHS?

Here's what it looks like on a video:
EDIT: Changed the link, don't know why lightshot sucks for link sharing:
Imgur: The magic of the Internet
 
Last edited:

Phaaze88

Titan
Ambassador
If I ever noticed there was too much thermal paste and it was spreading onto the PCB or outer edge of the CPU, will that cause any damage to the CPU or PCB?
No, it can get a little messy is all.

Is there any chance of the alcohol damaging either one as well? Do laptop GPU or CPU have IHS?
1)No, it dries quickly.
2)No, they're bare die applications, which are a little different from IHS ones. Some pastes out there that are excellent on cpu IHS may not do so well on bare die.
You should let us know what your chosen paste is for this task.
 
Reactions: ShangWang

Phaaze88

Titan
Ambassador
If I ever noticed there was too much thermal paste and it was spreading onto the PCB or outer edge of the CPU, will that cause any damage to the CPU or PCB?
No, it can get a little messy is all.

Is there any chance of the alcohol damaging either one as well? Do laptop GPU or CPU have IHS?
1)No, it dries quickly.
2)No, they're bare die applications, which are a little different from IHS ones. Some pastes out there that are excellent on cpu IHS may not do so well on bare die.
You should let us know what your chosen paste is for this task.
 
Reactions: ShangWang

ShangWang

Proper
Mar 26, 2021
460
2
185
0
No, it can get a little messy is all.


1)No, it dries quickly.
2)No, they're bare die applications, which are a little different from IHS ones. Some pastes out there that are excellent on cpu IHS may not do so well on bare die.
You should let us know what your chosen paste is for this task.
Thank you, I'm using arctic silver 5 for the task. I've never heard of bare die, is that how the CPU and GPU disperse heat? How does it work?
 

ShangWang

Proper
Mar 26, 2021
460
2
185
0
How old is this laptop?

I would suspect other issues, rather than needing a disassembly and repaste.
About 2 years, refurbished. I have worried a lot about how good it really was because of the HDD failure I had a few months ago where I replaced it after with a SSD. Not sure what else I could do to fix the heating issue than dusting and re-pasting other than replacing the whole thing entirely which I do not have the money for.
 

USAFRet

Titan
Moderator
Mar 16, 2013
149,645
9,859
175,890
23,395
About 2 years, refurbished. I have worried a lot about how good it really was because of the HDD failure I had a few months ago where I replaced it after with a SSD. Not sure what else I could do to fix the heating issue than dusting and re-pasting other than replacing the whole thing entirely which I do not have the money for.
And what are these temps?
Both idle and under load.

(laptops often run a bit hotter than desktops)
 

Phaaze88

Titan
Ambassador
Why are they "bare" and would this make them less efficient in dispersing heat? What compensates for this?
Not sure about the first one, but the other one - no, it is more efficient.
It's literally adding an extra layer; as you add layers, cooling efficiency falls.
Die > TIM > heatspreader/IHS > TIM(again) > cooler cold plate [IHS]
Die > TIM > cooler cold plate [No IHS]
2 layers gone due to one piece.

While laptop parts are already 'naked', what holds them back is the laptop's small package. Dust is also a bigger threat to them, due to fewer points of ventilation.


EDIT: corrected a mistake in the first line.
 
Reactions: ShangWang

ShangWang

Proper
Mar 26, 2021
460
2
185
0
And what are these temps?
Both idle and under load.

(laptops often run a bit hotter than desktops)
I know for a fact that my idle temps have gotten higher.
Usually when idle it's 40-50 max, now it's sometimes at random when I have many tabs running it kicks into 50-60 and the fans are audible for long periods of time until the next restart.

When playing a game that is usually 80 degrees max where the fans were audible but not quite loud, they kicked into the max speed while staying the same degrees. I definitely have some heating issue of some kind.
 

USAFRet

Titan
Moderator
Mar 16, 2013
149,645
9,859
175,890
23,395
I know for a fact that my idle temps have gotten higher.
Usually when idle it's 40-50 max, now it's sometimes at random when I have many tabs running it kicks into 50-60 and the fans are audible for long periods of time until the next restart.

When playing a game that is usually 80 degrees max where the fans were audible but not quite loud, they kicked into the max speed while staying the same degrees. I definitely have some heating issue of some kind.
Nothing there really indicates full dismantle and repaste.

You can do it if you want, but don't be surprised if you see no real difference, or if you mess up the whole reassembly.
 

ShangWang

Proper
Mar 26, 2021
460
2
185
0
Not sure about the first one, but the other one - no, it is more efficient.
It's literally adding an extra layer; as you add layers, cooling efficiency falls.
Die > TIM > heatspreader/IHS > TIM(again) > cooler cold plate [IHS]
Die > TIM > cooler cold plate [No IHS]
2 layers gone due to one piece.

While laptop parts are already 'naked', what holds them back is the laptop's small package. Dust is also a bigger threat to them, due to fewer points of ventilation.


EDIT: corrected a mistake in the first line.
Interesting, thank you. I had thought IHS was a good thing and helped disperse heat. I believe IHS is more common on desktops for some reason, why is this so? Do desktops require a protective shell for some reason compared to bare dies on laptops?
 

ShangWang

Proper
Mar 26, 2021
460
2
185
0
Nothing there really indicates full dismantle and repaste.

You can do it if you want, but don't be surprised if you see no real difference, or if you mess up the whole reassembly.
I have done this before with no noticeable results. It's just that this time it has become worse 9 months in so I likely have either
  1. bad paste
  2. did a bad job
 
Last edited:

ShangWang

Proper
Mar 26, 2021
460
2
185
0
An IHS is a design feature.
Not something you can change or have control over.
Thank you, not an issue for me but I'm just curious why manufacturers choose to make this extra "layer" for no reason if it just adds more heat compared to bare die. I briefly read that IHS also adds "protection" is there really any benefit to IHS compared to bare die?
 

ShangWang

Proper
Mar 26, 2021
460
2
185
0
Nothing there really indicates full dismantle and repaste.

You can do it if you want, but don't be surprised if you see no real difference, or if you mess up the whole reassembly.
I have been going through many tabs at once recently, maybe managing too many pages at once has to do with it possibly? Not sure how it relates but even after I close all my tabs my idle temps remain the same high temperature. It does do this even when I'm not doing anything at times too, so I really have no idea until I re-paste.
 

USAFRet

Titan
Moderator
Mar 16, 2013
149,645
9,859
175,890
23,395
Thank you, not an issue for me but I'm just curious why manufacturers choose to make this extra "layer" for no reason if it just adds more heat compared to bare die. I briefly read that IHS also adds "protection" is there really any benefit to IHS compared to bare die?
A CPU generates heat.
Whatever is on top of that is designed to move that heat up a layer, eventually to whatever cooler thing is on top of it.

The solid layer on top of the actual chip is either soldered on, or there is some paste stuff.
 
Reactions: ShangWang

ShangWang

Proper
Mar 26, 2021
460
2
185
0
A CPU generates heat.
Whatever is on top of that is designed to move that heat up a layer, eventually to whatever cooler thing is on top of it.

The solid layer on top of the actual chip is either soldered on, or there is some paste stuff.
Thanks, I'm assuming some manufacturers just find it cheaper to make IHS than bare die or something like that. It has nothing to do with "protection?"
 

Phaaze88

Titan
Ambassador
The IHS does not add heat. More like, it delays it.

Protection? IDK. Desktop gpus don't have it, and laptop cpu and gpus don't have it...
Why just the desktop cpu carries it... I couldn't give you all the answers for it. To protect the die probably is one of them though.
Another would be revolution. To roll without it as the standard would call for some major changes with coolers. That change in height would be pretty significant, not to mention the dies themselves; not all are monolithic.
Some coolers wouldn't be compatible anymore or would need a redesign, others would require new mounting hardware. All that is $$$.
They're too far in to rush in to all that...
 
Reactions: ShangWang

ShangWang

Proper
Mar 26, 2021
460
2
185
0
The IHS does not add heat. More like, it delays it.

Protection? IDK. Desktop gpus don't have it, and laptop cpu and gpus don't have it...
Why just the desktop cpu carries it... I couldn't give you all the answers for it. To protect the die probably is one of them though.
Another would be revolution. To roll without it as the standard would call for some major changes with coolers. That change in height would be pretty significant, not to mention the dies themselves; not all are monolithic.
Some coolers wouldn't be compatible anymore or would need a redesign, others would require new mounting hardware. All that is $$$.
They're too far in to rush in to all that...
Sorry for the complicated question, I think that is a good explanation. Thank you for the info!
 

ShangWang

Proper
Mar 26, 2021
460
2
185
0
A CPU generates heat.
Whatever is on top of that is designed to move that heat up a layer, eventually to whatever cooler thing is on top of it.

The solid layer on top of the actual chip is either soldered on, or there is some paste stuff.
Would you know if a laptop heat sink can be pushed on too tightly? Will that adversely affect heat transfer? The only thing that is holding my heat sink in place are a few screws, for how tight the heat sink stays on is entirely dependent on surface contact.
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY