Thermal paste question: Is "paper thin" actually thicker than necessary?

By Caxus ยท 13 replies
May 27, 2006
  1. I've always heard and read that a paper thin layer is best but since the paste is really only there to fill microscopic pits and imperfections, wouldn't merely smearing a tiny bit on with a platic bag around your finger be even better? Wouldn't this be closer to having true contact between the cpu and the heatsink? Paper thin almost seems too thick.

    Also, are antec silver and arctic silver basically the same or is arctic better? I had some of both from my last upgrade a few years ago but i was only able to find the antec.
  2. twite

    twite TechSpot Paladin Posts: 937

    Paper thin is fine, not to little, and not to much. I use, and most people would probably reccomend using artic silver.
  3. CMH

    CMH TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,039   +9

    Paper thin is too much, as you mentioned. I've played around AS5 and found that as long as you cover the whole surface, the less you use is better (this is however quite hard to estimate, usually I end up using too little).

    There's an article some time back about a guy who was about to write up a comparison between silver thermal pastes, but ended up writing about a scam. Apparently alot of "silver" thermal pastes contain only the colour silver, and no argentum (silver metal) in them. AS5 was the only one which contains the % of silver advertised. This includes some well known overclocker brands such as OCZ.
  4. KingCody

    KingCody TS Evangelist Posts: 992   +8

    smearing it with your finger will most likely leave it sloppy and inconsistant (it will be thicker in some areas than others.

    From my own experiences, I have found that a single edge razor blade works best to get a perfecty flat and ultra thin layer. just make sure that you hold the blade at an angle to avoid scratching the die or heatspreader surface.
  5. CMH

    CMH TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,039   +9

    Sounds like a great way to apply thermal paste. I'd just follow the AS5 instructions tho: smear around with your finger (in a plastic bag of course), and then removing it with a razor (or something flat, I use a plastic card. credit cards work). And then dabbing a small amount of AS5 on the die, and then putting on the heatsink (and fan).

    Works too.
  6. KingCody

    KingCody TS Evangelist Posts: 992   +8

    the you may want to read the instructions a little closer ;)

    the proper meothods for application and removal of Arctic silver pastes different between the numbers (i.e. Arctic silver 5 and Artic silver 3). you listed the proper metheod for arctic silver versions 1, 2, and 3 but those instructions do not aply to arctic silver 5.

    you can view the official metheods here
  7. Caxus

    Caxus TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 42

    Has anyone tried the method that they suggest for A64's by just putting a small amount in the center and letting the pressure spread it automatically? Apparantly it's best not to cover the whole thing.
  8. KingCody

    KingCody TS Evangelist Posts: 992   +8

    who is "they"??

    if you used this metheod, you may get a thick layer of paste, resulting in poor contact with the heatsink.

    I wonder though... I personally have never removed a heat spreader from the CPU...
    1. has anybody personally done this?
    2. what is used to transfer the heat from the core to the heatspreader?
    3. would there be any benefit to removing the heatspreader, cleaning the underside and cleaning the core/die, then applying some AS5 and reattaching the heatspreader??

    It would be interesting to know if anybody has done this and if it would be beneficial to do so..
  9. Caxus

    Caxus TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 42

    The Arctic Silver people in the link you provided, silly. :)
  10. KingCody

    KingCody TS Evangelist Posts: 992   +8

    lol... i guess I should read a little more careful myself! haha :D

    I still don't like that metheod, but "they" say to do it, so...
  11. CMH

    CMH TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,039   +9

    do not remove the heatspreader. Doing that just gives the processor alot of physical stress. And that cannot be good. Those processors are damn fragile as it is, without you going in there and playing around with it.

    Anyway, for application of AS5, just follow the instructions given, and you'll be fine.
  12. Caxus

    Caxus TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 42

    The thing is i've never heard of anyone doing it that way. But if that's what they say it must be safe.
  13. KingCody

    KingCody TS Evangelist Posts: 992   +8

    i wasn't suggesting for anybody to remove the heatspreader. I was simply asking if anybody had done it. anyways, I don't want to hijack this thread, so I'll start a new one on it. :)
  14. CMH

    CMH TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,039   +9

    Their methods are different, but then again, how many methods do you know for applying thermal paste? :D

    To me, I know only "The Smear", "The Blob", and "The Invisible Paste". :D:D:D
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