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How often should I replace my thermal paste?

By Dannyk0ed
Mar 7, 2012
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  1. I dont think im getitng a CPU upgrade in awhile so i need to know how often should i replace my CPU thermal paste. I dont think i replaced the paste in like 6 years (Day my dad bought)
    Any suggestions and will it improve my performance
     
  2. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TechSpot Paladin Posts: 6,242   +1,549

    As long as the temps are not too high there will not be any performance loss. I wouldn't worry about replacing thermal compound, unless you are experiencing temperature issues.

    If you are wondering what your temps are. Download Core Temp and watch your CPU temps.
     
  3. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,941   +725

    Replacing the thermal paste wont improve performance unless the CPU is throttling under thermal load. Check your temps - there are a few good CPU temp utilities around, and if the the temp is getting out of hand under average load/gaming conditions then replacing the TIM would be in order.
    Your next question is likely, "How hot is too hot?"...well, that depends on what cooling (both CPU cooler and chassis cooling) you're using and how good the airflow is.

    Note: If you plan to replace the TIM, run the computer for a while first under load. This will heat up the CPU, TIM and cooler heatsink base which will cause the TIM to become more pliable and make the heatsink easier to remove.

    EDIT: Ninja'ed by clifford....c'est la vie
     
  4. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 12,647   +323

    Anytime you remove your heatsink, or anytime the heatsink becomes inadvertently dislodged. Other than that I wouldn't worry about it too much, increasing temps are much more likely to be caused by dust buildup or inadequate case airflow (like if you add more hard drives or something and your cable management gets worse).
     
  5. Dannyk0ed

    Dannyk0ed TS Member Topic Starter Posts: 79

    I get around 40-44c
     
  6. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 20,984   +168

    The temps are okay...
     
  7. Dannyk0ed

    Dannyk0ed TS Member Topic Starter Posts: 79

    I just bought Cooler Master High Performance Thermal Paste a fews day ago and i heard if you put this on, it will cool my computer down, and will have a huge performance differnace from the Thermal paste that is still on my CPU/
     
  8. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 20,984   +168

    ...and if you believe this, you believe everything you read, right? After 6 years you may see a slight improvement in temps. Be sure to clean off the old paste before applying just a small amount of the new paste
     
  9. Marnomancer

    Marnomancer TS Booster Posts: 808   +51

  10. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 20,984   +168

    "I replace my paste once a year"...

    That's a little excessive Marnomancer. I have had computers from 2000 that still run with their original thermal paste. I will replace the thermal paste when the CPU heatsink feels really hot to the touch or if the heatsink is clogged with dust... Also at the time of upgrading my system every 2 years or so
     
  11. Marnomancer

    Marnomancer TS Booster Posts: 808   +51

    I know, but I've been ending up cleaning my case often in the last few months. The buildings being constructed on both sides of mine have driven me paranoid. :eek: Not to mention the climate here is almost always hot and humid. And, I got that paste for free in 2005.
    I didn't mean it quite literally, though. I just replaced it in Fall, 2010 (regular cleanup), Summer 2011 (construction started). Hopefully they'll be finished before I upgrade my GPU. They're painting the terrace now. All that dust being blown into my PC...urgh!

    Which reminds me, Dannyk0ed, don't over-apply the paste, should you drip it onto the PCB. You don't want a fried mobo, do you?
     
     
  12. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 20,984   +168

    "You don't want a fried mobo, do you?"...

    Yes Marnomancer, some less experienced tend to use too much Thermal paste, and sometimes this acts like an insulator causing the CPU temps to rise not lower, and the paste can be electrically conductive as you mention
     
  13. Dannyk0ed

    Dannyk0ed TS Member Topic Starter Posts: 79

    Thanks, And no i dont want a fried Motherboard. :)
     
  14. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 20,984   +168

    Fair enough :)
     
  15. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 13,469   +327

    In 20 years I've never changed the paste - - but then I don't overclock the cpu either.
     
  16. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 10,967   +955

    You know, plowing through garbage threads like this just irritates me.

    Not that I don't learn anything. For example, "paranoia" is justification in and of itself, for redoing your heatsink. Construction dust is capable of getting under a correctly attached heatsink, Certain brands of TIM can make your CPU faster, 40 to 45C are temperatures you should really be worried about, ad nauseum.

    And yet still, I feel I'm accomplishing more when I'm surfing for porn, rather than posting to threads like this....:rolleyes:
     
  17. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 12,647   +323

    If you were addressing my comment concerning dust, I meant no such thing. I was referring to dust buildup on the attached heatsink itself, not underneath.

    If you were not addressing me, carry on as usual :)
     
  18. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 10,967   +955

    I wasn't, I am.

    For your illumination and edification:
    Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to porn we go...... :rolleyes:
     
  19. Marnomancer

    Marnomancer TS Booster Posts: 808   +51

    I was talking about the dust collecting ON the heatsink, reducing it's contact with air.
    And don't mind me asking, but if you find these threads so annoying, why do you open them in the first place?
     
  20. tekman42

    tekman42 TS Member Posts: 42   +8

    I fail to understand some of the advice given here on the subject of TIM and replacement intervals. Heat...and especially prolonged intervals of continous heat like say a cpu.....drys everything including the thermal paste...especially the thermal paste@! Just because one hasn't changed the paste in 6 years..or more...doesn't mean that it was a good thing for their processors or the operating efficiency of said silicon and all the surrounding components that suffered efficiency loss due to the thermal envelope inside their machines ever increasing over time. The hotter silicon gets the less efficiently it can conduct electrons thus reducing overall efficiency and sometimes a loss of efficiency that is heavily detrimental to the performance of part or all of the components in ones machine, never mind the reduction in mtbf...mean time before failure...which decreases as operating temperatures in the operating environment reach higher and higher levels and the components that function in those environments suffer from the increase in heat load.

    As a guy with a degree in technology and a total of two decades of working on electronics and pc's...read..electronics and networking...I fully understand that "HEAT" is the destroyer of all electronics and the transferrence and dissipation of heat...as much as you can...is a very desirable trait one wants a computer system to be extremely capable and efficient at performing.

    Since ALL processing performed in a computer is performed by one type of processing unit or another..ie cpu or gpu and other controllers that exist in the Northbridge or Southbridge or by any type of chipset all produce large quantities of heat and one should always endeavor to remove as much of that heat as is efficiently possible! GOOD ENOUGH... ISN'T... REALLY!

    With the CPU being the "brains" of the pc platform...using a quality thermal paste, in the correct amounts, per spec design...and REGULARLY changing the paste...does nothing but ENHANCE performance over the long haul. The colder you can keep your cpu, gpu, N or S Bridges... or chipsets that generate large amounts of heat..the absolute better the entire system performs...the longer the usuable life the components have...and the longer it takes to reach unacceptable performance and degradation of the components leading to failure, bsods, unexplained freezes and drop outs and so on.

    At a minimum...I would (and do) change the paste on my machines at least once a year...my laptop...every 6-8 months...and yes...I do see a difference in performance and idle temps as well as "under load condition" temps. The most gain realized is always under load conditions...I usually drop 2-4 C with new paste...in and of itself that doesn't seem like much of a drop...but when you add that difference back into the equation when considering longetivity of your components....that can lead to a considerable lengthening of the silicons life expectancy. In this economy...I'm all for enhancing my chances of a better ROI on my choice of computers and the ensuing maintenance intervals that are responsible for that enhancing!!!

    The cost of materials is insignificant vs the cost of a lost cpu...chipset...gpu...and associated hardware like the socket for the cpu...the cpu cooler fan or equipment and especially the bus traces that interconnect the cpu to the peripheals...when a cpu or gpu fails...and with added heat loads...they do regularly fail...these failures almost always contain enhanced risk to the components directly connected via those bus paths...ie the ram slots and ram...the pcie slots the expansion cards are in...the controllers that handle jobs for usb...raid...the onboard nics...all are easy to blow with failures in the circuits due to heat build up that could be disastrous and expensive.

    These are "Worst case scenarios" agreed...but they are also common as failure points for the pc industry and the designs being utilized today...high frequency processors...with very little headroom for heat buildup outside the thermal profiles of these high speed components per manufacturer specs.

    As a once semi-profecient backyard auto mechanic...grease is what helps manage heat in the rearend that is always turning if moving...the wheel bearings as they are always turning if moving...the drive shaft u-joints as they are always turning if moving...and as a mechanic...if people would repack the bearings and u-joints once a year and replace the rearend grease at intervals of 3 years or so...then the risk of failure goes heavily DOWN...just like the thermal paste in your machines...be they laptops or desktops or htpcs...heat management is critical for longevity and efficiently guarding against performance degradation.

    I would recommend waiting on gpu's through the warranty periods as removal of outer covers and heatsinks often times voids the warranty...it's getting better as time passes and manufacturers are recognizing that overclocking and mods are being utilized more often and are providing for simple maintenance such as tim replacement and are beginning to allow the end-user to perform some basic preventive maintenance on these types of components without voiding the warranty...read carefully all warranty provisions and beware...if in doubt email or contact the manufacturer of your component and inquire as to if what you are attempting will void your warranty PRIOR to any work being performed.

    Why oh Why would you neglect to perform a very simple "in most cases" maintenance operation that is both cheap and extremely effective insurance against catastrophic loss or failure?

    For me...it's a no-brainer...and a simple task...an individual with basic hand tools and a small modicum of ability...can watch a video on any type of cpu socket or gpu heatsink removal and tim replacement as well as recommendations for application of the tim and perform what is at the most a fifteen minute operation in a vast majority of pc layouts.

    You should change (or have changed) your paste as often as whatever makes you comfortable...but when dealing with high speed electronic components, I never believe in pushing my luck or taking a unnecessary risk due to heat build up that can be easily neutralized via a simple 15 min task in most cases.

    As I said in the beginning of this post...I do not understand why one would risk thousands of dollars and all their personal data on their computers by failing to perform simple "preventive" maintenance. That's a risk that is easily avoided and should be part of any pc owners efforts to maintain their computers. Educate oneself a bit in the art of electronics and do a bit of reading on the subject of heat vs electroncis and how engineers design the TP...the thermal envelope and operating designs of a circuit or component or group of components...and the value of keeping all that silicone as cool as possible and operating at peak efficiency for the money spent on your electric bills.. thereby improving efficiency, enhancing roi along with increasing the longevity of the components and investment in their computers.

    Need is a subjective descriptor...I "need" to adhere to a maintenance schedule for my machines that includes a healthy dose of common sense, an educated interest in the components thermal envelope that resides in my computers and since I don't have the funds to burn...protecting my hard earned dollar invested in said machines.

    A year is a good time frame if heavy computing...a bit longer if surfing and email is your average online experience...less if heavily into gaming, encoding, or cad...or any other processor intensive activities are the norm for you.

    Risk is all around....why invite it in?

    I know others don't feel this way...but from one who has seen a lot of machines in educational environs...governmental environs.. and industrial environs... and many a home....I feel comfortable with my time frame as a least risk option for me...Not everyone will see it the same way but I suspect there are a lot of techies out there that practice much the same time tables as I do...JIC...just in case. It also has the caveat of being one more risk reduced as a point of failure further reducing expenses to ones pocket book.

    Respectfully,
    tekman42
     
  21. Doctor John

    Doctor John TS Enthusiast Posts: 247   +15

    I can't agree, there's no point fixing what isn't broken. Regarding "drying out", the paste will have dried within a few hours at operating temperature. Also, the conductivity of silicon doesn't fall off much with temperature within normal limits. If the core temp is acceptable, the paste is fine.
     
  22. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 20,984   +168

    "At a minimum...I would (and do) change the paste on my machines at least once a year...my laptop...every 6-8 months"...

    A bit excessive don't you think? Laptops do get hotter than desktops, and they need a little more care, to keep them off carpets and beds, and to keep the external air vents clean. The average computer user would never do this anyway. Some thermal paste and pads are of better quality than others "If the core temp is acceptable, the paste is fine"... This is the bottom line here, thanks
     
    Doctor John likes this.
  23. Doctor John

    Doctor John TS Enthusiast Posts: 247   +15

    Enough said? :)
     
  24. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 12,647   +323

    That was a really long post, so I didn't quote it in full.

    I respectfully disagree with just about everything you said. I know you touted the 'in this economy' line, but I don't think that really flies here. You are talking about CPUs, and I think you mentioned 6 years somewhere in your post. Yes, heat does kill electronics, but it kills them on a decade time scale. Sure if I liquid whatever, lets say nitrogen, cooled my processor, maybe it will run for 20+ years. But if I air cool it, it will run 10-15. I ran an overclocked Athlon Thunderbird 1Ghz (ran it at 1.1 to 1.2) for its entire lifetime, it died in 2006 or 2007, it came out in June 2000. Those things were notorious for their heat, I ran it overclocked, on air, for 6 or 7 years before it died, and I'm not even sure it died - may have been the motherboard. But, at that point, that processor was so slow compared to its modern peers, it was effectively worthless.

    So yes, your regular repasting is likely beneficial to the health of your components. But it isn't really doing anything except wasting time and money, because all those years you are helping it achieve are useless years.
     
  25. tekman42

    tekman42 TS Member Posts: 42   +8

    Not a problem...this is an "each to their own" choice and I choose to not take (any risk) simply because the paste is so cheap and that also makes me take a look at the rest of my components at the same time and provides a reason (some of us need a bump to do housekeeping) to clean out all the dust bunnies, clean off the dirt on the fan blades, and remove built gunk anywhere we find it inside the machine as well.

    I know that most processors are out of date with 18 months of purchase "moores law" and all that but if I'm spending $2000 or more on a machine I'm building for myself...the extra insurance of ensuring no heat issues by diligent maintenance...I breathe a bit easier and sleep a bit better....and at my age (almost 50) sleep has all of a sudden become more important :) and in much shorter supply!

    But point taken.....maintenance on ones personal computer is seriously just a matter of personal preference and what you are most comfortable with!
     


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