Why and how often should the thermal grease on the processor be changed?
Every user wants his computer or laptop to function stably for many years, without failures and braking. But, as practice shows, “nothing lasts forever”, and in the process of operation, any equipment lends itself to wearing out, parts fail and functionality decreases. The main cause of performance degradation is CPU heating caused by thermal paste drying and degradation. Despite the fact that the process of replacing thermal paste is quite simple, most make common mistakes, which will be discussed in today’s article. It is very important to know not only the principle of operation of the processor itself, but also how to replace consumables.
What is thermal paste on a processor?
Thermal grease is a silvery-gray viscous substance that is the main link between the processor and cooling system. It transfers heat to the radiator base plate or water cooling unit. In simple terms, thermal paste helps the cooling system perform the necessary functions, and the processor does not overheat during operation.
Do I need to change it and why?
In order for the processor to function stably and the radiator does not cease to perform its functions, the use of auxiliary components is required – in this case, thermal paste. Both components have a ribbed surface, therefore, during the installation of the equipment, gaps are formed into which air enters – as a result, heat transfer deteriorates.
To get out of this situation, a paste with maximum thermal conductivity was created. Over time, the substance dries up – it turns from a liquid state into a solid or powdery. Thermal conductivity decreases several times, the processor starts to overheat, throttling starts, you can see the computer shutdown in complex processes. Modern units rarely fail for this reason, since they have a special auto-shutdown chip. But in order not to bring the equipment to such a state, it is recommended to periodically replace consumables.
How often should you change it?
The drying speed of the paste depends on several factors, namely:
- brand of substance;
- working temperature criteria;
- the degree of load on the processor.
If you bought a paste of well-known brands, which was used on office equipment, which does not create a high load on the processor, then its residence time in a liquid state can reach 5 years. Another case – when using cheap paste on a powerful gaming device, the substance dries up after a year. It is difficult to provide an exact answer about the time frame, but the user can independently determine whether it is time to replace the paste on the device or not. This requires constant monitoring of the processor temperature:
- 45 degrees in normal condition;
- 65 degrees in a state of workflow.
If the temperature indicators do not exceed the criteria, it does not require replacement. However, a lot is individual here, you need to look at the technical characteristics of the processors. For example, old AMD processors can operate at temperatures up to 80 ° C and this is practically the norm for them.
The main mistakes that beginners make when replacing thermal paste
The procedure for replacing the paste is very fast and does not cause any particular difficulties. A clumsy approach can render the technique unusable.
The most common mistakes include:
- User sloppiness. This starts with the disconnection of components that require maintenance. Everything can be removed easily, you do not need to pull out anything by force. If it is not possible to disconnect certain elements, you need to look at the mount and re-try to unscrew the mechanism.
- Use of low-quality devices… When unscrewing the screws, it is important to use quality screwdrivers. If the cross is licked off, it is easy to damage the head of the screw or rip off the thread.
- Thermal paste selection… This is a controversial issue, but experts advise against using a too cheap tool on game blocks. The budget option will be relevant for office equipment.
- Applying the wrong amount of product… This is the most common mistake among users. As a result, the excess paste will simply spread and end up in places where it shouldn’t be. The tool can flood the motherboard, which will subsequently affect the functioning of the device. Too economical use is also undesirable, otherwise the paste will not cover the entire area of the hot plate and heat transfer will deteriorate. Usually one small pea is used.
- Selection of tools for applying paste… A mistake will be the use of cotton swabs, metal products or napkins. Metal can damage the surface of the chip. The cloth will leave fibers that will mix with the material and prevent an even layer from being formed. For work, it is best to use a plastic spatula, thick brush or card.
How to apply thermal paste correctly?
A few steps to follow when applying thermal paste:
- Before starting work, you should read the instructions. It is necessary to select the material for your device model, get acquainted with the trademarks and pricing policy of each of the companies.
- Remove the cooling system and remove the old thermal paste particles. This is done with a napkin or cotton swab. The use of alcohol will be effective – it moistens a napkin and polishes the entire surface of the radiator.
- A drop of thermal paste is placed in the center of the processor.
- Using a brush or plastic card, it is necessary to evenly distribute the substance in a thin layer. After that, carefully install the cooling system and connect it to the power supply.
- After switching on, it is recommended to go into the settings and check the temperature of the processor. It shouldn’t get too hot, the heat should be normal even in stress tests.
The resulting information will become relevant for users who are faced with a computer performance problem. Tips and tricks will help you not only make the right paste replacement, but also choose it for your device. The article gives the approximate operational terms of each material, but it all depends on the individual parameters of the equipment.