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Can a lack of thermal compound prevent your PC from turning on?

By matchboxmatt · 7 replies
Jul 27, 2007
  1. My Dell broke recently when the mobo fried, so I bought a new case, PSU, mobo, cooler, and RAM in order to salvage the remaining parts that worked just fine.

    Being the first PC I've ever built, I took out the CPU from the old PC, and placed it in the new one, but didn't apply thermal compound because I thought it already had some on. I placed on the cooler, installed and hooked up everything, and tried to turn it on.

    However, the LED lights in the front would only turn on for about half a second, and the case fan would start for a couple seconds before the computer stopped. I tried numerous things, from testing each stick of RAM to disconnecting and reconnecting all the wires. I took off the cooler finally, and saw that the bottom (not metal, but some weird gray looking mesh) had melted onto the CPU's heatsink. No damage seems to have been done to either part; only a melted compound.

    If I get some thermal paste, should the PC start properly?
  2. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 5,746   +14

    this belongs in the "dumb things people do to their PCs" thread.

    YES. Failure to disspate heat can fry your CPU.
    Thermal compund is designed to disappate it.
  3. pdyckman@comcas

    pdyckman@comcas TS Rookie Posts: 526

    Don't make your own. I read a "PC World" article and it said "mix toothpaste and silicone spray". I must admit I have done it and it works...but your cpu smells funny and the toothpaste drys out. Buy some and put on an even thin layer. I use a plastic business card to 'swipe' and it gives it that smooth look that thermaltake would die for.
  4. matchboxmatt

    matchboxmatt TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 19

    Should I wipe off the melted substance from the CPU and the bottom of the fan? Will the thermal compound be fine alone in filling the gap completely?

    Also, where can I buy the stuff and what brand?
  5. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,382   +3,602

  6. matchboxmatt

    matchboxmatt TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 19

    Well, apparently that mesh that came with the fan was wax. Isn't that supposed to act as a heat conductor as well? Am I looking at the wrong problem if my PC isn't starting?

    I'd get the deal from newegg, but I'm out a credit card for the moment.
  7. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,382   +3,602

    We're on the the same page with....

    Clean off the old before installing the new are we not? NOT, just clean it off, then assemble? Yes, sometimes the thermal compound looks like a grid or net. Coolermaster heatsinks come to mind. Processors with little or no thermal control will likely shut down before booting. nonetheless, you have to attend to the heatsink issue, before moving on to other causes! Thermal compound is generallly considered a one shot deal, in that if you remove the heatsink for any reason, it must be cleaned off and renewed.
  8. C_Conqueror

    C_Conqueror TS Rookie Posts: 140

    I needed some thermal compound fast once and I went to bestbuy and they had it. If there is a bestbuy where you live.
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