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do i need heatsink paste?

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If you buy a boxed processor, it will come with a heatsink and fan. The heatsink has thermal compound pre-applied. Basically, it looks like this (the 3 gray strips):



I've found that the stock thermal compound is fine for most uses. If you plan a radical overclock, and/or you want to shave off the most heat possible, then buy a good third party heatsink, wipe off the stock thermal material (use isopropyl alcohol and a lint-free cloth- get from an electronics or hardware store), and get yourself some Arctic Silver 5.


Make sure the heatsink surface is mirror smooth- wipe off any trace of old/pre-applied thermal compound. Apply a tiny bead of AS-5 directly to the center of the installed processor (Seriously, use a very small amount, and DO NOT spread it all over the processor cap, it will spread out by itself the way liquid spreads between two glass slides) and then lower the heatsink in place. Applying to much will leak out between the heatsink and processor, and actually raise temps.


Arctic Silver can't work miracles, but in conjunction with a decent heatsink it can lower temps sometimes by 5-10 degrees or more.


Again though, for average builds with lower power processors, it's not necessary on initial install of a pre-applied heatsink.


However: I'd recommend everyone get a vial of AC5 just to keep handy- if you ever change your processor, or re-install it, ALWAYS clean the old compound off both the heatsink and processor, and reapply new. NEVER re-use thermal compound- the second you pry a used heatsink off a processor both surfaces will develop cracks in the existing thermal compound that will raise temps if you reuse it.

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