Question Thermal paste at the bottom center of the CPU

Feb 28, 2020
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Please help. I recently bought a Intel i7 4790 non-k cpu but the cpu has thermal paste at the bottom center of the cpu itself not on the pads but on the center part of cpu. Right at the bottom center where those transistors or idk what are those on the cpu. Does my Cpu will still work or not? How do I remove this paste?

P.S. the thermal paste isn't quite as much as big but a fine dot.
 
I'd probably use 90% rubbing alcohol. Dampen a qtip or cotton rag. Then gently clean it off. Throw out any rag you use. I can't imagine the compounds in thermal paste are good to spread around.

I've cleaned off the bottom of CPU before with alcohol without problem. It's normal to use to clean electronics. I just hope none is on the motherboard pins. Those are tricky to clean. Same goes with AMD CPU.
 
Feb 28, 2020
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Won't the processor be harmed? Will it still be useful? It's right on the center part and not on the "golden area or pads".


I'd probably use 90% rubbing alcohol. Dampen a qtip or cotton rag. Then gently clean it off. Throw out any rag you use. I can't imagine the compounds in thermal paste are good to spread around.

I've cleaned off the bottom of CPU before with alcohol without problem. It's normal to use to clean electronics. I just hope none is on the motherboard pins. Those are tricky to clean. Same goes with AMD CPU.
 

Won't the processor be harmed? Will it still be useful? It's right on the center part and not on the "golden area or pads".
It's hard to say. I wouldn't like to leave it there. It's a chance either way. I'd probably still use alcohol. First trying to just flush it. If that failed, then gently clean with a soft bristle tooth brush and alcohol. I don't think you'd damage any of the transistors if very gentle. It is a risk. Alcohol itself should do no damage if you give it time to dry. Isopropyl alcohol is a pretty common way of cleaning electronics. Other alcohols could probably work too but are more hazardous to handle.

There's also electrical contact cleaner but that stuff is pretty nasty and only something I'd use for rusted contacts or cleaning stereo pots. Also you have to be certain to use the lubricant and residue free stuff.
 
Feb 28, 2020
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It's hard to say. I wouldn't like to leave it there. It's a chance either way. I'd probably still use alcohol. First trying to just flush it. If that failed, then gently clean with a soft bristle tooth brush and alcohol. I don't think you'd damage any of the transistors if very gentle. It is a risk. Alcohol itself should do no damage if you give it time to dry. Isopropyl alcohol is a pretty common way of cleaning electronics. Other alcohols could probably work too but are more hazardous to handle.

There's also electrical contact cleaner but that stuff is pretty nasty and only something I'd use for rusted contacts or cleaning stereo pots. Also you have to be certain to use the lubricant and residue free stuff.
Is it okay to just leave it there? The thermal paste isn't on a liquid or goo form anymore. It kinda hardened a little bit but can still be removed.
 
I couldn't say. A lot of thermal pastes are electrical insulators. But some are conductive. Unfortunately, you'd quickly find out the hard way if it is electrically conductive. There's a risk either way. It's a matter of trusting yourself to cleaning it or trusting chance that the thermal paste is safe to leave put.

I've cleaned a lot of computer parts with alcohol to no ill effect. There's been no need to clean those transistors on the bottom of an Intel CPU. So, I couldn't say how sturdy they are. I've accidentally brushed them with a cloth while cleaning the contacts on the bottom without issue.

Reading through some other posts online. The general consensus is. You don't want thermal paste under your CPU and to gently clean it. Some suggest toothpicks. I prefer a toothbrush as the bristles are far more yielding. Plus you don't need the precision of picking between CPU pins.

Edit: Also wear latex/nitrile gloves. You don't want to get your finger oils all over the CPU.
 
If it's hardened I wouldn't use alcohol, just a toothpick, magnifying glass and a q-tip.

I messed up on my first ever cpu replacement and got paste not only on the underside but on the motherboard pins too. :( I carefully cleaned it off using the tools I mentioned and all is running well even several years later. :)
 

maikutech

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1.Take the cpu out of the mobo.

2.Use lint free paper towel and use green alcohol to remove any access residue
https://www.target.com/p/isopropyl-70-alcohol-antiseptic-wintergreen-scent-16oz-up-up-153/-/A-14668026

https://www.walgreens.com/store/c/bounty-select-a-size-paper-towels-big-roll/ID=prod6376373-product

https://www.target.com/p/dawn-ultra-original-scent-dishwashing-liquid-dish-soap-7-fl-oz/-/A-75666580

3. Lightly dip the papertowel with the green alcohol, slowly wipe away on the cpu.
Also you don't need a tooth pick or anything like that.

*When you get off as much grease as you can, use dawn or similar dish washing liquid on it.
*Move around the edges of the cpu and whatever smears is left.
*Take a dry papertowel, wipe it gently, let it sit for 10 15 minutes.

If you do it this way, you are guaranteed not to have any issues when you apply the new grease.

I have been doing this for years, amd and intel and I have zero issues with it.
Samething can needs to be done for your heatsink, clean up time will take 10 minutes
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Gam3r01

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Moderator
1.Take the cpu out of the mobo.

2.Use lint free paper towel and use green alcohol to remove any access residue
https://www.target.com/p/isopropyl-70-alcohol-antiseptic-wintergreen-scent-16oz-up-up-153/-/A-14668026?ref=tgt_adv_XS000000&AFID=google_pla_df&fndsrc=tgtao&CPNG=PLA_Health+Shopping_Brand_Competitor&adgroup=SC_Health&LID=700000001170770pgs&network=g&device=c&location=9011163&ds_rl=1246978&ds_rl=1247077&gclid=Cj0KCQiAtOjyBRC0ARIsAIpJyGMaUcY8RDZ0A8fIRO_cRTB0gSYjtookizp4-GONSVV4tMztMPtHfvIaAp5fEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

https://www.walgreens.com/store/c/bounty-select-a-size-paper-towels-big-roll/ID=prod6376373-product?ext=gooKBM_PLA_-_Household_(2019_Update)&pla&adtype=pla&kpid=sku6314931&sst=_k_Cj0KCQiAtOjyBRC0ARIsAIpJyGOKIibOk0FKaEFjoJ64mW0H6WWGqlrki26H8tsZ-j6pDMEycMVkKs0aAsezEALw_wcB_k_&gclid=Cj0KCQiAtOjyBRC0ARIsAIpJyGOKIibOk0FKaEFjoJ64mW0H6WWGqlrki26H8tsZ-j6pDMEycMVkKs0aAsezEALw_wcB

https://www.target.com/p/dawn-ultra-original-scent-dishwashing-liquid-dish-soap-7-fl-oz/-/A-75666580?ref=tgt_adv_XS000000&AFID=google_pla_df&fndsrc=tgtao&CPNG=PLA_Household+Essentials+Shopping_Local&adgroup=SC_Household&LID=700000001170770pgs&network=g&device=c&location=9011163&ds_rl=1246978&ds_rl=1247077&ds_rl=1246978&gclid=Cj0KCQiAtOjyBRC0ARIsAIpJyGM8S_ulOzpz7Vc8NfLFvXvq8T0GelQAIQU4tsTnijz-pU49JXRACf8aArJYEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

3. Lightly dip the papertowel with the green alcohol, slowly wipe away on the cpu.
Also you don't need a tooth pick or anything like that.

*When you get off as much grease as you can, use dawn or similiar dish washing liquid on it.
*Move around the edges of the cpu and whatever smears is left.
*Take a dry papertowel, whipe it gently, let it sit for 10 15 minutes.

If you do it this way, you are guranteed not to have any issues when you apply the new grease.

I have been doing this for years, amd and intel and I have zero issues with it.
Samething can be done for your heatsink, clean up time will take 10 minutes
Why would you recommend wintergreen scented isopropyl alcohol? It literally makes no sense.
It offers no benefits over standard isopropyl, it just contains additives that will end up leaving a film behind on whatever it is you are cleaning. 70% is also passable, but somewhat low percentage for this use.
 

maikutech

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Why would you recommend wintergreen scented isopropyl alcohol? It literally makes no sense.
It offers no benefits over standard isopropyl, it just contains additives that will end up leaving a film behind on whatever it is you are cleaning. 70% is also passable, but somewhat low percentage for this use.
What do you recommend then ?
 
Feb 28, 2020
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Won't the paper towel tear off as soon as you dip it in the alcohol? Is it guaranteed 100% that the cpu would still be working amidst the application of alcohol to the bottom center?

P.S It kinda became a gunk just a small gunk but still can be removed when I use small sharp object with precision without touching those transistors at the bottom part.
 
Won't the paper towel tear off as soon as you dip it in the alcohol? Is it guaranteed 100% that the cpu would still be working amidst the application of alcohol to the bottom center?

P.S It kinda became a gunk just a small gunk but still can be removed when I use small sharp object with precision without touching those transistors at the bottom part.
That advice is for the top of the cpu. I wouldn't use any alcohol on the bottom or it will turn to goo and go into place that will be even harder to clean out. Wait for it to dry out completely and then just toothpick it away. Clean it with alcohol once there's nothing left and qtip until the qtip is clean. This will get it all out.
 

Darkbreeze

Titan
Moderator
What are you even talking about?

Are you talking about INSIDE the CPU, with the lid removed? If you are talking about the outside/top of the CPU heat spreader, then you simply remove it from the motherboard and clean it, and keep cleaning it, changing cloths repeatedly until it is fully clean, and the same for the bottom of the heatsink, using isopropyl alcohol and lint free cloths such as a microfiber wiping cloth like you would use for cleaning eye glasses or a paper coffee filter. You DON'T use paper towels, because they WILL leave both visible AND microscopic lint behind. Same goes for most types of cloths. In a real pinch you could probably get away with clean t-shirt rag material but I'd avoid it unless you have no other option AND you want to make sure you blow off any residual lint that might be on the surface afterwards.

Lint, even though it is very small and tends to be soft, can be enough to not allow the two surfaces to completely make contact and is a material that does not readily facilitate the transfer of heat from surface to surface.
 

Darkbreeze

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Moderator
I'll tell you EXACTLY why that shouldn't be used. It contains wintergreen oil, and nothing with ANY kind of oil should be used to clean the surface of your CPU, heatsink or any other type of electronic surface. Not only is it counter productive in that you are not actually cleaning everything off the surface that way, but you are also actually intentionally creating an oil based barrier that will not be beneficial to the thermal compound making good contact with the surface of either part or likely being able to fill the porosity details in the metal surfaces.

So now, you've been told why not to use that. If you want to continue using it, that's up to you. It wouldn't be the first time somebody continued to do something unwise even after being told. We have plenty of stump heads from the middle east who think it's ok to clean their motherboards using gasoline, so technically, your practice is far from the worst one but it's certainly not advisable.
 
No more warranty for the processor and I want to do the countermeasure by myself yet I'm afraid to do it
I'm still not sure I know exactly where this blob is located, so far it sounds like it's not on the flat metal heat spreader surface which is good, but on the bottom surface in the center.

After puzzling the first question to my mind (how did it come to be there in the first place?) my thought is that if you can just leave it be would probably be the best course of action. So if you check the socket, try to imagine where the blob will fit in the base and if it's in a spot with a cavity just proceed with installing the CPU and mounting the heatsink.

BTW...the only logical answer for the question I had is someone tried to attach a thermocouple to the CPU, frequently done with a blob of adhesive. If you got this cpu second hand from an on-line source that does seem feasible, although why with a non-K variant eludes me.

And lastly: I totally agree do NOT EVER use 'wintergreen' or any other kind of isopropyl alcohol that has any kind of oil or anything other than alcohol, in 70% or greater solution.
 
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Darkbreeze

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Moderator
I'm still not sure I know exactly where this blob is located,
And this is the important, seemingly unanswered question. Pictures would definitely be helpful.

 

Darkbreeze

Titan
Moderator
Do NOT use a Qtip. Qtips leave fiber "hairs" behind which is undesirable UNLESS you have access to compressed air from a small compressor or cans of compressed air to blow off the area you have cleaned afterwards to remove any fibers.

Using paper coffee filters, micro fiber cleaning cloths or other lint free cloths such as those specifically made for cleaning transmission and engine internal parts is recommended. Those all are lint free products that won't leave bits and pieces behind.

Nothing is guaranteed to be "safe" when working on computers. Every time you take the side panel off or install/uninstall a piece of hardware, you are opening up the possibility of damaging something. That is just the way it IS and has ALWAYS been, since, always.
 
Feb 28, 2020
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Yes, a potential for damaging something indeed, but my point is would the CPU be still working using an alcohol and a lint free cloth?
 

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