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Do I need to replace thermal paste on a CPU that's never been on?

By diewrecked ยท 8 replies
Sep 5, 2012
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  1. Hi guys

    Hope you can help here. I'm building a box with an I7 CPU and an NH-D14 cooler. The cooler is so big it obscures the RAM stick slots, so I took it off, put the sticks in, put it back on. Given that the machine has never been switched on - it's never even made it as far as the case - and given the components are the same with the same orientation, is it really necessary to clean/remove and reapply the thermal paste?

    Thanks in advance all
  2. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,357   +116

    Opinions will vary, but as long as you haven't fully fitted the cooler and the thermal paste is okay then its fine to re-fit it.

    It doesn't matter if the CPU has been powered, the issue is whether the thermal paste will still function correctly having been disturbed when you removed it. If you're in any doubt I'd remove, clean and add more paste.
  3. CMH

    CMH TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,038   +9

    I would replace it, although you probably wont see too much difference in everyday use. more of a peace-of-mind thing.
  4. slh28

    slh28 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,703   +171

    You should definitely replace it, once the thermal paste spreads and you take it off and put it back on there will be lots of air bubbles trapped between the chip and cooler.
    SNGX1275 likes this.
  5. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,545   +429

    Agree with slh28, if you've attached it - as in made contact between the cpu and the hsf, and then removed it, its screwed up, you'll need to do it again.
  6. Jad Chaar

    Jad Chaar Elite Techno Geek Posts: 6,481   +975

    If you still have an issue look into low profile ram from corsair
  7. Cinders

    Cinders TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 867   +12

    You can run the computer with the old thermal paste in place, but your temps will start out a little higher than they could be. Over time the air bubbles that were trapped in the paste will expand and eventually push the paste out from between the heat sink and processor causing the paste to pile up in some places and leaving air gaps in others. Your temps will begin to rise very quickly after a few months to a few years. I usually replace the paste every time I remove the heat sink, but I have obviously gotten lazy at times. :)
    Dawn1113 likes this.
  8. Dawn1113

    Dawn1113 TS Booster Posts: 319   +68

    I would replace it. Not that much work involved, anyway. :)
  9. hood6558

    hood6558 TS Evangelist Posts: 353   +110

    Do the right thing not the easy thing; builds character (whatever that is)

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