Ok, so I'm building a computer and was wondering how necessary thermal paste is. it
Is it critical or can the CPU live with just a heatsink and fan?
(I guess maybe I should research it more before continuing. :p)
7th December 2003
If your fan comes with a thermal pad you don't need paste. Depending on the quality of your fan thermal paste may perform much better though.
It would be a bad idea to install a fan to your CPU without any paste or pads in between though.
MrFancypants;5172626It would be a bad idea to install a fan to your CPU without any paste or pads in between though.
You'll fry your cpu if you don't add any thermal compound
DarkKrucifix7;5172645You'll fry your cpu if you don't add any thermal compound
No, it pretty much depends on how good the contact is between the CPU's surface and the heatsink. If both are totally "flat" and smooth, there is not even a need for thermal paste.
If both the heatsink and CPU heat spreader are perfectly flat and even (or at least fit perfectly with one another) then there is no need for thermal paste; in such circumstances, thermal paste may even decrease the function of the heatsink, because it just slows heat transfer from the CPU to the heatsink.
However, CPUs and heatsinks rarely fit together as well as this, and unless you're all for spending quite a few hours off the bat lapping both trying to make them both perfectly flat, I would recommend you buy some good thermal paste. The paste just increases the surface area of contact and allows an even connection. Even though heat will pass through slower than through metal, overall, because of the increased surface area, heat transfer will increase. And if you put the heatsink and CPU together and they don't fit together perfectly, then your CPU is in for some hard times.
17th June 2002
The point of thermal paste and pads are to ensure the maximum amount of surface contact and, thus, heat transfer. On their own, the CPU and the heatsink do not form a perfect contact, and much surface area is wasted - surface area which could be used to conduct heat away from the sensitive innards of your processor. By squeezing a small amount (emphasis on 'small') of heat conducting gunk between the two, you fill in the gaps and optimise the contact between them. Simply put, there is no reason not to install a heatsink without using some kind of contact material, and you're only hurting yourself.
Thermal pads are almost always stuck to the bottom of heatsinks these days, so if you made a conscious decision to go without you'd actually have to expend even more effort just to remove the thing. And thermal pads are perfectly fine for the majority of CPUs. Certainly, using some more sophisticated paste instead, made from more conductive materials, will improve the transfer of heat, therefore your system's performance and ultimately the CPU's lifespan, and if you have the time and the money (like, a tenner) I'd certainly recommend that you go ahead and apply some. But in the past I've built PCs using only the supplied heatsink and the pre-attached thermal pads, and they've survived five and six years of intensive use (and haven't been particularly well ventilated either) without so much as a croak, so if, for whatever reason, you just want to stick with the thermal pads, don't worry yourself too much about it.
Thanks for all the supplies so soon guys! :eek:
I guess it would help to know what CPU it is. :p
The CPU I'm using is the Phenom II X2 545 3Ghz.
Oh, and about handling it, I shouldn't touch the gold contacts right, just hold it by the edges I assume? :p
EDIT: This may be kind of odd, but would it be possible/recomended to add paste later?
7th December 2003
LaughingCheese;5172678 Oh, and about handling it, I shouldn't touch the gold contacts right, just hold it by the edges I assume? :p
That's the way to do it. The important thing is to avoid bending any pins or touching the actual chip at the center of the thing.
I didn't make it!
Arctic silver 5 or OCZ freeze is some of the higher performing stuff, so you may want to go for one of those thermal pastes.
Chill factor is nice too.