Thermal Paste Removal/Installation Guide

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Today I will be teaching you how to remove thermal paste from your heatsink and processor. Usually people will replace their paste 6-12 months, as paste dries out and temperatures rise!

What you will need:

Isopropyl Alcohol:
At least 70% is needed, 90% if possible. This can be purchased from almost every pharmacy and supermarket, mine is from Walgreens.

This is used to remove the paste from the processor and cooler, be careful not to spill any!

Paper Towels:
These are dabbed in the Alcohol and rubbed on the cooler/processor to remove the Old Paste!

Thermal Paste:
This is to increase the thermal conductivity between the processor and heatsink by filling in microscopic holes between that are on the heatsink and processor.

Whenever a cooler is removed from a processor, new paste needs to be applied. I will be using Arcrtic Silver 5 for todays cooler installation.

This can be your previous one, or a new one! I will be using the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO

Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO Review/Performance:
For those of you wondering, I am using an Aerocool Shark 120mm Fan on the 212 EVO with the stock Fan that comes with the EVO as well in a push pull configuration!

Aerocool Shark 120mm Fan Performance Compared to Other 120mm Fans:

The review uses an AMD Black Edition 965 overclocked to 3.9ghz with a Noctua NH-D14.
Step One: Removing The Paste From The Heatsink.

Once you have removed your heatsink from your system, open up your alcohol and place a paper towel on top like so:

Then, quickly flip the bottle of alcohol over (paper on top) to get some alcohol onto your paper towel like so:

Now we can begin by placing the part of the paper towel where alcohol is on to the base of the heatsink, and start rubbing back in forth like so:

After you rub for a few seconds, you will notice that your paper towels have taken off some of the paste:

Repeat this process until your heatsink is nice and shiny with no traces of paste on it!:

Reactions: hippyninja
Step Two: Removing Paste from the Processor.

Once you have finished cleaning the heatsink, you are ready to clean the processor!

Apply some rubbing alcohol onto some paper towels, such as in step one:

Then begin rubbing like you did for the heatsink:

As you can see, the thermal paste is completely removed from our i7-2600k and everything is looking good for the next step:

Step Three: Application of New paste.

Once you have removed the old paste from both your processor and heatsink, you are ready to apply your new thermal paste!

Since we are using Arctic Silver 5, the application will be slightly different. Unlike other pastes, Arctic Silver 5 requires us to apply the paste in a vertical line method on specific processors, in this case we are using the Intel Core i7-2600k.

For a list of processors Arctic Silver specifies, click these links:

Arctic Silver 5 Performance Compared to Other Compounds

Line Method:

Right after applying paste you should install your new cooler! Personally, I use the weight of my cooler to spread the paste. However, you can spread it around to a thin layer with things such as an old credit card.

Step Four: Installation of New/Old Cooler.
Now we have installed the Hyper 212 EVO, we are good to go!

Thermal paste and cooling fan temperature results belong to 4ryan6.


How long can I run my system before I need to reapply thermal paste?



Apr 25, 2012
Thanks for the guide!

What is the reasoning between applying Arctic Silver 5 in a line? Should I remove my Hyper 212+ and re-apply my Arctic Silver 5? I used the dot method.


Mar 13, 2012
In a line, I think that it fits in more with the "lines" of the 212+ copper pipes. However, if you're fine with the temperatures you're getting, you don't need to reapply. I don't think it'll make more than a 1C difference... if that.

Deleted member 217926

It's a good guide but it's kind of incomplete as Arctic Silver only recommends the line method for some CPUs.

You also have to take in account that is ONLY correct for Arctic Silver as well. Different pastes have different viscosities and spread differently. What works for Arctic Silver will not be correct for the very thick IC Diamond.
personally I think you used too much paste...

but very good 'stickie'.
well deserving.
I agree with mal, here.

That's a lot of paste, amuffin.

I apply just a "mid siezed" drop in the middle then start spreading the paste with something like a ruler (straight side, sturdy) over the CPU plate (looking for no dirt or something that might fall over it) leaving the paste as thin as possible and then put the HSF on top.

By far, that's the best method I found to keep the temps low (and save AS5 for future builds, lol).

Any towel or something that don't leave residues on top of the CPU once the liquid is cleared out is fine.

I use Q-Tips to apply the alcohol and then clear it with a towel that leaves no residues.



May 10, 2012
It seems cotton swabs/Q-Tips have more lint than paper towels.
My Bounty Paper Towels are supposed to be fine, so I'll use those if I don't have any coffee filters.

It was my first time applying AS5 so I didn't really know :whistle:


Oct 5, 2011
Really nice sticky!
Planing on getting a 212+ soon (first non-stock cooler), so i'll keep this in mind :)


I suggest to make this guide thorough you need to do extensive trial and error test fitting to see how each type of TIM, is going to spread, if it's your first time applying something do it numerous times, inspecting the footprint to see exactly what's going on with the application method you're using.

The original CMH212+ actually needed some pre-application TIM filling on the heat sinks base to fill in between the pipes and aluminum base plate, various different types of coolers with different base finishes require different types of applications and pressures, some are finished to a mirror finish and they're in a class by themselves.

What makes a great sticky is use the advice and criticism to edit it and make it better, do not get discouraged by the criticism, and regarding some of it consider the source and what they may have added to THGF themselves, or are they just sitting on the sidelines doing nothing.

I personally take great pride in your efforts to step up and do something here to help others, and even this can be a stepping stone to a masterful sticky, you take what you learn and use it for your own purposes, you will never please everyone!

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