Question Thermal Paste on CPU Pins and motherboard socket

Mar 27, 2023
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Hi.
Don't ask me how it's possible, and yes, in the future I won't be doing this myself.

The Thermal Paste that is used is the Arctic MX-4 2019 Edition, It's metal-free and not electrically conductive.
As you can see on attached images, there is thermal paste on about 14 CPU pins in the edge of the CPU, where 4 of those are covered all the way to the top, rest on the bottom.
On the motherboard socket, it's on the top left corner and the bottom right corner, and two other holes where I already had it removed gently with a toothpick.

The reason why I stopped myself from going further with removing it, is because I was also stupid enough to have a similar situation happen to me with the exact same thermal paste, the Arctic MX-4 2019 Edition, 3 years ago. That time it was easily 20 times worse than this time, and I ended up not bothering to remove it. That computer has been working without any bluescreens or booting problems, overheating or anything else, for the past 3 years, never had any issues with it due to the thermal paste, and that one is basically soaked in it compared to this one, on both the motherboard cpu socket, and the cpu pins itself.

Next time I will obviously get help with it to not have this situation happen again, but for now:
Would you as a tech expert reading this, still advice me to get Isopropyl alcohol, and a soft tootbrush and have it removed, or just leave it as it is?

I have already booted it up again without any issues, and been running Cinebench with 100% cpu load reaching maximum temperature of 56°C, after having it running for some hours without interruption or issues, because I simply want to avoid risking any damages by trying to remove it.

Thanks.

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Looking at the pinout, if anything was lost there, it was likely a USB port or two. I'm not sure what the orientation is, but the other side that would make sense is related to motherboard data, which to me wouldn't make sense the computer boots.

If it's fine, I'd say leave it. But I also don't see any problem with using a soft bristle brush to clean the socket and pins either as long as you're really careful with the pins.
 
Mar 27, 2023
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TBH, if it isn't causing issue, I would go with it. If you bend or break those pins trying to clean it you for sure will have an issue. You now know it doesn't take that much paste, so that was a valuable learning lesson.
Yeah the amount of Arctic MX-4 2019 Edition thermal paste on the old cpu and socket was without exaggeration basically covering a big part of the motherboard socket and the cpu pins. Basically 20 times worse than now, if not worse.

That computer has never had any issues for 3 years. I realised now I will not take this risk again by building another one myself and risking this, but considering the amount this time is extremely small compared to the last time, I first figured I would just try and remove it, but then I stopped myself knowing the old one that was basically soaked in the thermal paste never has had any issues for over 3 years, so it made me stop the cleaning process to avoid breaking or bending any pins.

Considering I have "proof" of a motherboard and cpu pin from before literally soaked in the exact same thermal paste , the metal-free and not electrically conductive Arctic MX-4 2019 Edition, it really puts me in a tough position here.

I know from my own experience that there probably wont be any issues this time either, and I would have probably found that out now already, but I also know I "should" remove the thermal paste.

If I do however, and I end up breaking something, it would make me feel even more stupid, since I already know the other one who was soaked in the exact same thermal paste, has worked without any problems for the past 3 years without me even bothering to remove any of it.
 
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punkncat

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I also use MX4. It is inexpensive and available in those small tubes up at the counter at Micro Center. I have not noticed a significant difference between it, Noctua, or other pastes that are supposedly better.

In this case, if you do try again just remember PEA sized amount, and or spread a small amount with a card or your finger behind rubber glove or plastic.
 
Mar 27, 2023
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I also use MX4. It is inexpensive and available in those small tubes up at the counter at Micro Center. I have not noticed a significant difference between it, Noctua, or other pastes that are supposedly better.

In this case, if you do try again just remember PEA sized amount, and or spread a small amount with a card or your finger behind rubber glove or plastic.
Yes, my thought process and plan right now is to go with it and keep it at it is, and remind myself to not even bother removing the CPU from the motherboard socket.

Only if I end up getting any issues this time, I will get a new clean soft tooth brush and the Isopropyl alcohol and remove it.

Do you see any reason as to why I shouldn't do just that? Meaning; Just go with it and keep it as it is, and only try to remove it IF and after I end up with any issues?

What do I really "gain" from trying to clean it up now, except for the risk of breaking anything?
Thanks.
 

punkncat

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I can't recall, maybe Arctic, makes a cleaning kit for paste that is a two part deal with orange cleaner and then a cleaner for the orange cleaner. You could try something like that. I figure that something like Goof Off is probably pretty similar but have never tested it specifically so no real idea if it could even harm anything (or work).
 
Mar 27, 2023
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I can't recall, maybe Arctic, makes a cleaning kit for paste that is a two part deal with orange cleaner and then a cleaner for the orange cleaner. You could try something like that. I figure that something like Goof Off is probably pretty similar but have never tested it specifically so no real idea if it could even harm anything (or work).
Thanks for the reply.
So you would just not bother trying to remove it now, and only do it if any problem occurs?
I'm on that computer right nowing doing all kinds of tests, reboots, stress tests etc, no problems as of now.

I also appreciate comments from more people on what to do here. It helps a lot, I have a lot of stress and worry.
 
D

Deleted member 2838871

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I also use MX4. It is inexpensive and available in those small tubes up at the counter at Micro Center. I have not noticed a significant difference between it, Noctua, or other pastes that are supposedly better.

In this case, if you do try again just remember PEA sized amount, and or spread a small amount with a card or your finger behind rubber glove or plastic.

This is exactly it. I used MX4 on my recent build... a pea sized amount.

When the CPU blew up 3 days later and I removed the cooler it was literally perfection... covering the entire IHS with no spillover.

I'm confident the paste I applied in the same way on the new CPU turned out the same... because the thermals confirm it.
 

punkncat

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Thanks for the reply.
So you would just not bother trying to remove it now, and only do it if any problem occurs?
I'm on that computer right nowing doing all kinds of tests, reboots, stress tests etc, no problems as of now.

I also appreciate comments from more people on what to do here. It helps a lot, I have a lot of stress and worry.

Exactly. It is working. You go fooling with it, bend/break a pin, mess up with the brush and knock off a transistor or something and then it is costing you money.
 
Exactly. It is working. You go fooling with it, bend/break a pin, mess up with the brush and knock off a transistor or something and then it is costing you money.
Clearly the Artic designers were thinking of you when they designed this product, lol. That's why they clearly state on their website that "This eliminates the risk of short circuiting..." So since it ain't broke you don't have to worry about fixing it.
 
Mar 27, 2023
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Thanks for the reply.
The news is, I do have the Isopropyl alcohol and soft toothbrushes now, but I have not decided to clean anything yet, for now only if any problems occurs, which I guess there won't be then.

I had Cinebench running to stress test the CPU at 100% for 12 hours straight last night, it finished the tests without any problems, reboots, or freezes or anything like that, with the Cores reaching (Max) 56°C after those 12 hours after having the CPU at 100%.

At idle without doing anything on the computer, the Cores are at 28°C.

I have high performance power plan mode on.
 
Mar 27, 2023
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After taking my time to think about this and taking all things into consideration (including information online and the comments in here), and asking tech stores about it, I have come to the following conclusion.


Regarding bent/broken CPU-pins:
As we can see from the pictures, none of the pins have been bent or damaged in any way, so there is no reason to take the CPU out of the motherboard socket and have a look again for any damages like that (after all, I only ended up checking it yesterday with a toothpick, and to my knowledge didn't damage anything). I have after that stress tested it with Cinebench with CPU on 100% load the entire time for 12 hours, without any problems. I have tried all kinds of games without any problems, I have rebooted and done all that type of stuff many times as well, no problems.

Regarding using Isopropyl alcohol + soft toothbrush to carefully remove the thermal paste:
The motherboard and the CPU is working without any issues.
A previous motherboard and CPU that was basically soaked in the exact same thermal paste, is still working as well without any issues 3 years later, without doing anything about it and just keeping it as it is.
The fact that the thermal paste is metal-free and not electrically conductive, combined with the fact that the motherboard and the CPU is working without any issues at all, should be enough reason not to bother removing the thermal paste. The fact that the other motherboard and CPU that was soaked in the exact same thermal paste (in a scenario 20 times worse than this) is still working without any issues 3 years later and without doing anything to remove it from that one, is adding experience to it as well, that it is fine.

If I want to keep the new motherboard and the CPU, I have no reason to even bother removing the thermal paste or think about it at all, until it becomes a problem, which most likely there will never be.

If I in the future want to sell the CPU, I can just be honest about it to the buyer, take a small loss on it, and perhaps end up selling it to someone who just keeps it as it is, or someone who has the skill and knowledge to simply remove it themselves. Especially when it's "only" as little as it is with this CPU, basically being "only" on 14 CPU pins out of the 1331 pins on the CPU pins.



Regarding removing the plastic cover from the motherboard socket and checking underneath for thermal paste:
As we can see on the image above, it's just a very small amount, and nothing to bother removing the plastic cover for to check underneath. There is also a risk of damaging the plastic cover, which I have read many people doing while checking underneath it. The motherboard is also working without any problems at all, so there is no reason there either to check underneath the plastic cover.
If I in the future want to sell the motherboard, I can just be honest about it to the buyer, and simply cleanly remove the small amount that can be seen on the plastic cover.


I very much appreciate all the comments, and I will be checking on the new comments in the thread after this post as well, as for now, my conclusion is the following:

Regardless if I decide to keep the CPU and the motherboard, or sell it in the future, I have nothing to gain from removing the metal-free and not electrically conductive thermal paste now. In the best case scenario, that I get it removed and everything works fine, it's still the same functionality as now; everything works fine.

Only if problems with the CPU or the motherboard occurs (most likely there wont be any issues at all in the future either), will I be removing the thermal paste or going underneath the plastic cover on the motherboard. Only then will I take that risk and check on those things.

I am however thinking about what I should do to the old motherboard and CPU, the one where the problem is 20 times worse, the one that has been working without any problems for 3 years. I can either sell that old motherboard and CPU as it is, or I can use that one to simply try the Isopropyl alcohol + soft toothbrush method to remove it on the old motherboard socket and CPU pins, OR I can simply keep it and not sell it, and not bother removing it considering it's been like that without any problems for 3 years.

Sorry for the long post, I suffer from a lot of stress and anxiety, so the comments mean a lot.

Thanks! :)
 
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