Question What happens if a CPU cooler isn't screwed in all the way?

Jan 4, 2021
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I recently purchased an i7-870 to replace my i5-650. However, when my PC was booted, I was sitting on a consistent 50-60°C. I didn't know if it was normal so I booted up my favourite game, CS:GO. Not even a minute into loading and I was exceeding my max temperature, sometimes sprouting up to 90°C. My PC was incredibly loud and I was worried. I instantly shut down and opened my case. I noticed everything near my CPU was hot. I thought I needed to purchase a new cooler before using my i7-870 so I simply unscrewed the cooler, removed the thermal paste and installed my i5-650 spare. I screwed it in like normal and booted up my PC. I was sitting on a consistent 40°C, the normal temperature for my i5-650. Upon booting CS:GO, I was averaging 60°C, which is great because it's not only 12°C less than the maximum temperature but my thermal paste hasn't completely set.

The thing is, when I installed my i7-870 it was my first ever CPU installation. I didn't want to break anything so I didn't screw the CPU cooler in all the way. I thought if it was too tight it could potentially ruin everything. I didn't realise at the time I needed to keep screwing until it wouldn't go further or until I felt a large resistance. I was anxious at the time and decided to screw it in until I felt a slight amount of resistance. And like I said before, upon booting I was idling 50-60°C. I thought I did everything right. To prevent my CPU from being any more damaged I decided to take it out and replace it with my old i5-650. This time, I screwed everything in until I couldn't screw anymore. I booted it up and boom, 40°C!

Should I attempt to reinstall my i7-870 but screw it in all the way or wait until my new cooler is shipped, using my current i5-650 in the meantime. I have about 4 more thermal paste applications remaining in my tube so I don't know if I should risk anything. Let me know!
 
Jan 4, 2021
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Well, I don't know what your cooler is.
It's a basic stock cooler, nothing too special.

I installed my i7-870 and screwed it in all the way but nope, still bad. Compared to when the bolts aren't screwed in fully, this was faster but still overheated regardless. I'm looking to purchase the Deepcool GAMMAXX 400 which supports my CPU, LGA1156.

Before Fully Screwed In:
Idle: 50-60°C
Load: 80-90°C

After Fully Screwed In:
Idle: 45-55°C
Load: 75-80°C

Not a large difference but still improvements.
 

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