What is Thermal Paste? A Complete Cooling Equation

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Are you experienced with thermal paste? It is an often-overlooked part of most computer setups.

In case of installing a heatsink on a CPU or a video card this critical tool, thermal paste is a must.

The thermal paste which is laid straight away on the CPU upholds and transfers heat conduction between both surfaces of a device.

Though thermal paste is not well known to most of us, it is one of the most important items while building a DIY PC and chasing a good result.

What is Thermal Paste

What is Thermal Paste?

A thermally conductive compound that acts the interfacing fact between heat sources (high power semiconductor devices) and heat sinks is known as Thermal Interface Material (TIM) or thermal paste. It differs from thermal grease.

There is no effect of mechanical strength to the bond produced by thermal paste or thermal grease between the heat sink and heat source. Rather, the paste has to be matched up with a mechanism of mechanical fixation like spreading the thermal paste all over the heat source by applying pressure between the heat sink and heat source.

Types of Thermal Paste

Thermal paste is of various types-

Types of Thermal Paste
  • High-end ceramic-based thermal paste
  • Carbon-based thermal paste
  • Arctic MX-4 99.9% silver thermal interface material
  • Silicone-based thermal paste
  • Liquid metal-based thermal compound
  • Graphite-based thermal paste etc.

What Does Thermal Paste Do?

The thermal paste acts as thermal insulation. It eliminates spaces or air gaps from the interface area for maximizing heat transfer and dissipation.

As it is a CPU grease, it covers all the microscopic imperfections on

the GPU/CPU and heatsink which can fill the air in them and cause a great loss in the heat sink’s performance.

How Much Thermal Paste Need to Use?

How Much Thermal Paste Need to Use

CPU is the one component that will require thermal paste while gaming on a computer. So, when applying it, get a paper-thin layer of the paste all over the CPU. And to do this just use a dot of the thermal paste on each side of the CPU.

What is Thermal Paste Made for?

The reasons for what thermal paste is made –

What is Thermal Paste Made for
  • To improve the heat coupling between various types of components.
  • To drain away waste heat generated by the electrical resistance in semiconductor devices.

How to Remove Thermal Paste?

There is a serial process for removing thermal paste

  • Referring to the self-user manual for access
  • Get rid of dust in the heat sink’s vents
  • Scrapping off the old paste
  • Rubbing away the residue with alcohol or acetone
  • Repeat with the processor
  • Doing the same thing anywhere else thermal paste has spilled

How to Reapply Thermal Paste?

The process of applying new thermal grease is given below-

  • Giving the processor and heatsink a chance to dry
  • Applying the processor’s core with paste
  • Spreading the paste over the core’s surface
  • Reassembling the computer together

Importance of Thermal Paste

Excess heat rapidly decreases the activities of the semiconductor devices including power transistors, GPUs, and CPUs which can cause a failure to the device. And so, cooling the semiconductor devices is very important to protect the device from the negative temperature coefficient property of them. For this reason, the thermal compound is important to produce.

Most often in a factory, PCs generally incorporate thermal paste between a heat sink and the top of the CPU case to cool down. Also, in this case, thermal paste is sometimes used between the CPU heat spreader and CPU die.

Moreover, while installing or reinstalling a CPU, the thermal paste should always be used.

Importance of Thermal Paste

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

There are some frequently asked questions regarding thermal paste. They are-

Q: How much long-lasting is thermal paste?

Ans: Low-quality thermal paste will be dried out very quickly by a hot-running CPU. But good quality thermal compound lasts for a long time (about three to four years).

Q: What happens if the thermal compound is not applied?

Ans: If the thermal compound is not applied, the performance of the total system will degrade. And for the CPU operating function, the temperature will grow higher.

Q: What will happen if too much thermal paste is used?

Ans: If too much thermal paste is used, it will perform like an insulator and will hinder a heat sink’s stability to cool properly. And for this, you will not get your expected result.

Q: Is it necessary to dry the thermal paste?

Ans: Generally, it is not needed to dry the thermal paste. But sometimes you will get a better result after letting the paste sit for hours.

Conclusion

In a heat management system, it is quite important that each part of the conduction path is thermally perfect as possible to increase the heat transfer between the source and the sink. And thermal paste is the perfect element for this.

An ideal means of controlling the temperature of a semiconductor pass the heat through conduction away from the heat sink to a heat source which mitigates it correctly according to the surrounding.

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