How Often Should Thermal Paste Be Changed? [ANSWERED]

However, one part that doesn’t get nearly as much love as others (and can do even more damage over time) is the thermal paste. This substance is responsible for transferring heat from processor cores to heat sinks, where it is eventually dissipated via fans.

Without proper ventilation, these little tubes get clogged and begin to leak. Once they’re full of dirt, dust, bits of hair, fluff, thermal compound residue, and all sorts of other junk, they don’t do their job properly. They also become less efficient at conducting heat because things are now trapped in them. Eventually, temperatures rise so high that one of the components will completely fail or melt completely. That¬†said, thermal connections are not perfect. They deteriorate over time and need new ones every few years.

But why wait for a problem to arise when you can probably prevent it altogether? Keep reading to find out.

How often should thermal paste be replaced?

We mentioned before that thermal bonds break down over time. As such, your best bet for maintaining optimum performance is to swap out the old pipe before it gets too dirty to handle safely. And since it tends to form on both sides of the core-heatsink interface, it’s not easy to clean.

There are several ways to remove the dried paste, including using canned air instead of compressed air, rubbing alcohol, cotton swabs, toothbrushes, paper towels, Q-tips, needle files, sponges, even paint brushes, and various types of scouring powders.

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Use multiple approaches and tools for maximum effectiveness. Make sure that whichever method you choose doesn’t damage the rest of your hardware.
For example, dry thermal compounds can sometimes be removed more easily by soaking the entire assembly in denatured alcohol overnight, followed by scrubbing with a soft bristle brush the next day. Of course, you may want to be extra careful here because getting alcohol all over the place can ruin your electronics and cause a mess. You can also try making your own homemade cleaner using white vinegar, water, dish soap, salt, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and distilled water. Or you can just clean it with a damp microfiber cloth, mild nail polish remover, or even plain tap water.

The thing is, when it comes to removing thermal compounds, prevention really is better than cure. To avoid having to deal with messy spills, stains and general cleaning later on, it’s usually good practice to replace the thermal paste yourself whenever possible.

The best ways to replace old thermal paste

You know how people say size matters? Well, when it comes to choosing a replacement thermal compound, size definitely makes a difference. After all, quite a bit of material is needed to cover the surface between a core and a heat sink.

A little bit of thermal compound costs a lot less than a lot of it. And while newer generations of processors tend to have smaller heatsinks and cores, older chips require larger amounts of paste due to their larger total surface area.

So what happens if you buy too much of it? Will it end up being wasted? Not necessary. Most manufacturers pack large quantities along with sample packs, sample packs, and coupons. They then sell the excess product back to consumers who didn’t need it after testing purposes. Some retailers offer free shipping on refills, and many companies like SuperBiiz and Arctic Silver sell prepackaged tubes from thermal paste cheap online

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Nowadays it is not difficult to find high-quality thermal paste for a decent price.

But assuming you don’t fall into one of those categories, how do you select the right kind of thermal compound? Here are two popular options worth checking out.

First up, Arctic silver 577RX. This particular formulation contains silica gel, zinc oxide, boron nitride and aluminum acetyls. Not only is it very affordable, but it is also great value for money as it offers excellent conductivity, holds up well under extreme conditions and helps protect against moisture and oxidation. In addition, unlike many competing products, Arctic Silver 577RX remains flexible within temperature ranges of -40 degrees Fahrenheit (-40 Celsius). Finally, Arctic silver 577RX sticks to surfaces easily, making it ideal for small jobs and tight spaces.

Arctic Silver 616RT has a similar composition, except with additional zirconia powder to improve stability. Like Arctic Silver 577RX, it also performs well at operating temperatures and lasts about twice as long as competitors. Unlike its competitor, Arctic Silver 616RT lasts longer at a wider temperature range. Still, neither option beats generic varieties that typically cost less money and have fewer ingredients.

What happens if you use too much thermal paste?

Let’s be honest; thermal paste is quite handy to have with you. Whether used correctly or incorrectly, it can help extend the life of your system. Unfortunately, if you decide to use way too much of it, bad things will happen, so we recommend that you

Overloading thermal paste on a heat sink allows it to flow freely and spread uncontrollably. Instead of flowing evenly through the gap, it collects in certain places and acts as insulation, reducing transmission efficiency. Worst of all, this leads to uneven heat distribution, resulting in higher internal temperatures. It won’t be long before overheating destroys CPUs, graphics cards, RAM modules, storage devices, and basically anything else connected to the motherboard. Worse, a melted thermal paste can block airflow and disrupt the cooling mechanisms. In severe cases, this can also lead to a fire hazard or short circuit.

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To avoid possible disasters, apply only a light layer of thermal compound and leave room for expansion. Don’t worry about leaving large gaps between the core and the heat sink. Any remaining space allows for increased airflow and prevents the build-up of static electricity. Also keep in mind that liquid thermal paste dries more slowly compared to solid variants. Be patient, allow enough curing time and wipe off any stray particles with a towel. Finally, make sure to place the fresh pasta in the correct direction. The active side must face the heat sink. Otherwise, you run the risk of smearing the old paste further into the canal.

In short, thermal paste remains one of the most critical devices during a computer’s lifetime. Regular maintenance is required to keep it clean and to function optimally. Never hesitate to replace it when needed.

With a little luck, we’ve made your decision-making process a lot easier.

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