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Intel i5 heatsink -- how to remove old thermal paste/apply new thermal paste

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I've been having a lot of video issues (so far audio is unaffected) with my i5 HTPC lately... red flickering lines, digital noise that fills parts or all of the screen, display loses signal briefly.

I was 98% sure that it was a heat issue, so I downloaded and installed Speedfan. Under very little load, my system is running at 60c. That's way too hot, right?

I opened the computer and found that the pins on the heatsink weren't pushed in all the way -- so I assume the heatsink wasn't doing it's job, right? Also, the thermal paste (just the stuff that came already on the heatsink) was kind of nasty looking -- half of it was on the cpu and half was still on the heatsink.

Two questions:

1) how do I remove old thermal paste from the heatsink and the cpu and how do I apply new thermal paste?

2) are there any longterm negative effects from running my cpu too hot? I ran it sporadically for a few weeks before checking it today.
post #2 of 20
I have used gel hand sanitizer (with alcohol in it) with fantastic success. Just put a little dab on something and it goes a long way.

I don't know of anyone else that uses this in this manner so ymmv.
post #3 of 20
Alcohol is indeed a good solvent. Just Google the brand of paste you're using and you'll find the manufacturer's recommended procedure for applying it.
post #4 of 20
Just make sure to let the alcohol completely evaporate before using again.
post #5 of 20
Yup, just use whatever solvent you have laying around...rubbing alchohol, paint thinner, etc...make sure cpu and heatsink are thoroughly clean, whatever you used is completely evaporated/dry, and no stray dust or lint is left behind when you put things back together.

If you use paste like AS5 or something, dont overdo it. A little goes a long way. You dont need any more then a SMALL grain of rice sized dab. No real need to spread it before assembling either. Just put your dab down and assemble it. Maybe rotate the heatsink back and forth a little a time or 2 before tightening it down if you want. The pressure from attaching the heatsink will spread it. Thermal compounds are one of those less is more sort of things. Using too much will actually hurt effectiveness rather then help.

If you dont have new stuff to put on it yet, and the hs still has the thermal pad pretty well intact since it wasnt attached propperly to begin with, you should be fine just attaching it propperly as is, even though the general rule is to remove and reapply thermal compound any time the heatsink is removed.
post #6 of 20
ive used wife's nail polish remover as well.
post #7 of 20
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16835100010

Just use this to remove then apply:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16835100007

Remember you can find it cheaper elsewhere, but this stuff is great, although a little more money....
post #8 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by woody777 View Post

Under very little load, my system is running at 60c. That's way too hot, right?

Nope. 60c is just getting warmed up. Tcase is around 72-73 for i5 procs, and TjMax is around 98-100c. All i5s have integrated thermal management that will slow down or disable cores should the temperature reach too high levels, in addition to scaling up the fan speed if the fan/mobo supports that feature.
post #9 of 20
60 degrees isn't too bad. Check your parts' recommended operating temps and you'll probably find that its well within limits. However, heat is the enemy of PC reliability so getting it down below 50 is a good idea. For getting thermal paste off I use nail polish remover and q-tips. Make sure its all off and dry before reapplying. Also, don't use too much paste! The thinner the layer that completely covers the CPU, the better as a thick layer can actually insulate the chip.

Questions though - are you using a discrete vid card or just Intel graphics? Also, do you have a good extractor fan on your case? I've found this to be a much bigger factor in keeping my case cool than the intake fans. Make sure there is plenty of air around the intake/exhaust too.
post #10 of 20
Try using a better cpu fan/heatsink then the stock fan/heatsink that came with the cpu.
I agree 60 degrees isn't too bad.
post #11 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by tardis26 View Post

Try using a better cpu fan/heatsink then the stock fan/heatsink that came with the cpu.

His heatsink wasn't seated.

I would try to use the stock cooler properly first.
post #12 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by aerosnow88 View Post

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16835100010

Just use this to remove then apply:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16835100007

Remember you can find it cheaper elsewhere, but this stuff is great, although a little more money....

I bought that same remover combo at Microcenter when I stripped down my laptop and redid the thermal compound (and cleaned out the fan/heatsink). It was a bit cheaper than the NewEgg price. I used the Diamond IC7 paste to replace it.

My laptop was running hot (65C idle to 95C load). Now it is barely reaching 65C under load. The load being Diablo 3...
post #13 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much for the tips guys!

If 60c isn't that hot, could the issue described above be caused by something else?

Also, can heat cause problems other than just frying a cpu? I mean, if it still works, is everything fine? I've had this pc for over a year and just recently started encountering these issues.
post #14 of 20
I just use toilet paper with no solvent or anything, it works well.
post #15 of 20
I use 91% Isopropyl alcohol and a paper towel. The isopropyl alcohol is available from any Target store in the pharmacy section. If you really want to do a thorough job then get some 99% isopropyl alcohol, usually available through any pharmacy via special order for only a couple of bucks. Isopropyl alcohol is preferred because it evaporates completely and leaves no residue like most solvents. I deal with all sorts of maintenance procedures for the military and isopropyl alcohol is used widely for many types of electronics cleaning tasks for the reasons I stated.
post #16 of 20
i used a towel paper, folded in 4
post #17 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by woody777 View Post

I've been having a lot of video issues (so far audio is unaffected) with my i5 HTPC lately... red flickering lines, digital noise that fills parts or all of the screen, display loses signal briefly.

I was 98% sure that it was a heat issue, so I downloaded and installed Speedfan. Under very little load, my system is running at 60c. That's way too hot, right?

No. I seem to recall that modern processors are rated for up to 80C.

Quote:


I opened the computer and found that the pins on the heatsink weren't pushed in all the way -- so I assume the heatsink wasn't doing it's job, right? Also, the thermal paste (just the stuff that came already on the heatsink) was kind of nasty looking -- half of it was on the cpu and half was still on the heatsink.

If there was compound on both the CPU and the heatsink in a fairly thin layer that was split between both pieces, then this suggests a fair thermal connection between the two.

Quote:


Two questions:

1) how do I remove old thermal paste from the heatsink and the cpu and how do I apply new thermal paste?

Many ways to do this. Contact cleaner, brake cleaner, carburetor cleaner, acetone, lacquer thinner or. squirt on some new heat sink compound and work it into the old stuff until its all softened.

Be careful! Some of the chemicals mentioned here will attack plastic.

Quote:


2) are there any longterm negative effects from running my cpu too hot? I ran it sporadically for a few weeks before checking it today.

Back in the day, a misaligned heat sink could spell death for a CPU. Today's cpus have heavy heat sink plates of their own and thermal sensors and should be self-protecting.

Many will simply partially shut down and only run as fast as their heat sinks let them.
post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by woody777 View Post

Thanks so much for the tips guys!

If 60c isn't that hot, could the issue described above be caused by something else?

Also, can heat cause problems other than just frying a cpu? I mean, if it still works, is everything fine? I've had this pc for over a year and just recently started encountering these issues.

The heatsink needs to be properly seated. Put new thermal paste on and lock it all down. The 60 degree reading could be way off for parts of the chip. If that doesn't fix the issue then it could be something else. Try the following:

- If you are using a discrete vid card, check the temps on that
- As I wrote before, make sure your intake/exhaust fans are working
- Try a different monitor
- Try a different HDMI port if you have one

Chances are the heatsink/paste issue will fix the problem.
post #19 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by woody777 View Post

Thanks so much for the tips guys!

If 60c isn't that hot, could the issue described above be caused by something else?

Also, can heat cause problems other than just frying a cpu? I mean, if it still works, is everything fine? I've had this pc for over a year and just recently started encountering these issues.

If your CPU is too hot, you will greatly reduce its' lifespan. Your computer can freeze at random.
post #20 of 20
Thread Starter 
I finally got a chance to remove the old thermal paste and apply new. The instructions on the arctic silver site were a bit confusing. I didn't "tint" the heatsink or the cpu as I couldn't find any videos showing this. It seems like most people either apply a pea sized mound in the center or a thin line across the cpu. I did the line as that's what arctic silver recommended.

So far, temps are down, but only a few degrees. I'm running 57-58 instead of 60-61. No video issues so far, but I'm worried they might come back.
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