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Old 11-22-2009, 09:24 PM   #1
newbiesforever
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CPU fans: thermal pads and thermal paste;


So I finally bought a new CPU fan (and heatsink) to replace my old failing fan. In a thread I started about thermal paste, someone said a new fan won't need thermal paste if it happens to have a thermal pad. Unless that's wrong, what does a thermal pad look like? I don't think this new fan (Thermaltake model TR2-R1) has one, because the box doesn't mention one (and maybe because it wasn't expensive), but if it does, what would I be looking for? The back side of this fan is just chrome with a white square in the center. ... Hmm, the square appears to be covered with that white silicon goo which several people told me is inferior to silver paste. If I should remove it to use the thermal paste I bought (I assumed I'd need it), what should I use to scrape it off?
 
Old 11-22-2009, 09:51 PM   #2
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To remove the paste, I would gently wipe it off (not scrape!) with a very soft cloth, or some Q-Tips. The stuff should be somewhat gummy, but not that hard. The aluminum that comprises the heatsink (usually it is aluminum) is very soft, and too much rubbing and scraping with just about anything, will scratch it up. You want it to be as smooth and shiny as possible.

If it happens to be one of those sticky foam-like pads, and not an actual gooey pasty substance, I would definitely replace it with some better stuff, like the thermal paste you bought. removing those adhesive pads can be tricky. Use care!

PS - when applying your new thermal paste, don't go crazy! it only takes a very small amount, evenly spread.

Best of success.

Sasha
 
Old 11-22-2009, 09:57 PM   #3
newbiesforever
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Thanks. Will the silicon paste probably ruin the cloth?
 
Old 11-22-2009, 10:03 PM   #4
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I'm not sure it's actually silicon but either way, I wouldn't use your girlfriends/boyfriends best blouse for this purpose though I believe the stuff washes off rather easily. The silver stuff may not wash off so readily.

I have a bottle of heat-transfer compound right here, from "MG Chemicals" and it says in big letters on the front: "NON SILICONE", but (very oddly) the back label on it says "8610 Silicone Heat Transfer Compound" -- go figure :/ -- and the main ingredient is zinc oxide.

Sasha
 
Old 11-22-2009, 10:10 PM   #5
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Understood. I might not change the fan for a while, because I don't mind turning the computer off for a few minutes, but removing the motherboard, disconnecting everything, then putting it back in, and reconnecting everything is a relative pain in the ***. (I'm not going to try it with the motherboard in the case--it seems much harder.)

Last edited by newbiesforever; 11-22-2009 at 10:15 PM.
 
Old 11-22-2009, 10:14 PM   #6
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Indeed, it can be. But maybe you don't really need to disassemble the whole machine to just replace the heatsink/fan unit.. Or maybe you do, I'm not familiar with your machine.. Mine has some screwy clippy things, one on each corner, which turn 90' to lock or unlock.

I guess if you're not sure, the safest thing would be to disassemble and have a close look.

Best of success!
Sasha
 
Old 11-22-2009, 10:22 PM   #7
newbiesforever
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My new fan has a large clip on each side, but that's not really why I want to remove the motherboard. It's because I figure it must be easier to manipulate the fan into place when the board is perpendicular to me.

By the way, what should I use to spread the paste around? A cloth? My finger?

Last edited by newbiesforever; 11-22-2009 at 10:39 PM.
 
Old 11-23-2009, 04:30 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newbiesforever View Post
In a thread I started about thermal paste, someone said a new fan won't need thermal paste if it happens to have a thermal pad....what does a thermal pad look like?
If it has a patch of something on the back, it will be either a pad or paste. Paste is probably better (from a thermal performance p-o-v), but not so much that it makes a big difference to anyone but an overclocker.

Paste looks like a stiff paste, a pad looks like a pad; you can probably tell the difference most easily by poking with a small stiff piece of plastic.

Quote:
Unless that's wrong, I don't think this new fan (Thermaltake model TR2-R1) has one, because the box doesn't mention one (and maybe because it wasn't expensive)...
...probably a spec available on the website, if you are really interested...

Quote:
but if it does, what would I be looking for? The back side of this fan is just chrome with a white square in the center.
...the white/light grey/slightly raised/ non-metallic looking square area

Quote:
white silicon goo which several people told me is inferior to silver paste. If I should remove it to use the thermal paste I bought (I assumed I'd need it), what should I use to scrape it off?
  • silicon is a dark, stiff, brittle material used to make semiconductors; silicone is a plastic-y material (from stiff plastic to slightly thick-ish liquid), so you mean silicone.
  • An old credit card (or similar) followed by a solvent (lighter fluid, possibly alcohol, in some cases, will work)
  • if you are interested in performance, lapping (polishing, but make sure that the surface stays level) may make as big a difference as the change of compound

Quote:
By the way, what should I use to spread the paste around? A cloth? My finger?
Not the finger; the old credit card again (used at right angles to the direction of any maching marks left on the heatsink itself, to ensure that the remaining grooves are filled with gloop). The objective is to get the thinnest layer of the stuff that you can; pressure from the heatsink retention mechanism will try to squeeze the excess out, which is good. The ideal case is that you the maximum metal-to-metal contact (metal is a better conductor of heat than even the best paste) and that any microscopic irregularities are filled with the paste (air is a rubbish conductor of heat, so that you don't want that).
 
Old 11-23-2009, 04:45 AM   #9
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I say the best way to apply paste is not to spread it, but instead put a drop in the center and then fix the two pieces together. If you choose to you can also spread it yourself. But, do NOT apply too much or it will have the OPPOSITE EFFECT ... yes it will act as an insulator and heat up the CPU, there needs to be just a thin microscopic layer of the stuff. In fact, some people argue that it's useless to use paste at all and don't use any (and it usually works just fine).

Also, make sure to use at least metal-based paste such as Silver (Copper is cheaper and not as good) (silicon is crap).

See these references:
http://forums.techpowerup.com/showthread.php?t=6630
http://www.buildyourown.org.uk/forum...TOPIC_ID=21134
 
Old 11-23-2009, 08:27 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by H_TeXMeX_H View Post
In fact, some people argue that it's useless to use paste at all and don't use any (and it usually works just fine).
That's an interesting statement. I'm not arguing either way: I'd like to think that if one were not to use paste, then the CPU case and the heatsink mating surface should both be absolutely, 100%, perfectly flat and smooth, and no-paste should work really well.

On my roommates AMD Duron machine, I tried this (no paste) and the machine would not power up. Granted, the machine has a cheapo OEM heatsink, but the CPU thing is flat & smooth. No go. I *had* to use some paste. I put it down to the crappy heatsink; maybe if the sink were good quality, no-paste would be no-problem.

My preference in all cases is +1 for paste.
 
Old 11-23-2009, 10:45 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by H_TeXMeX_H View Post
I say the best way to apply paste is not to spread it, but instead put a drop in the center and then fix the two pieces together. If you choose to you can also spread it yourself. But, do NOT apply too much or it will have the OPPOSITE EFFECT ... yes it will act as an insulator and heat up the CPU, there needs to be just a thin microscopic layer of the stuff. In fact, some people argue that it's useless to use paste at all and don't use any (and it usually works just fine).

Also, make sure to use at least metal-based paste such as Silver (Copper is cheaper and not as good) (silicon is crap).

See these references:
http://forums.techpowerup.com/showthread.php?t=6630
http://www.buildyourown.org.uk/forum...TOPIC_ID=21134
Your suggestion sounds simplest. I'll try it.
 
Old 11-23-2009, 01:18 PM   #12
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I've never actually tried no paste at all, but I know some people who don't use it, and their computers do work (these computers are somewhat older, so it may be that on older computers paste may not have any effect anyway).
 
Old 11-23-2009, 02:13 PM   #13
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I meant putting just a drop in the center, not forgoing paste.
 
Old 11-23-2009, 03:18 PM   #14
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I didn't see anyone else mention it, so I thought I would add a tip as well. I generally use alcohol pads to clean the remainder of the thermal paste off the CPU and heat sink, before re-applying the new stuff. Q-tips and rubbing alcohol works as well. The idea is to have the surface as clean as possible before putting the new paste on. Like H_TeXMeX_H, I typically just put a small dot of paste in the center and depending on the size of the processor, I may run a small circle around that. You want just enough to cover the surface, not spilling over the side once the heatsink is mashed down.
 
Old 11-23-2009, 05:49 PM   #15
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Duly noted. Thank you.

Can anyone tell me how hard it will be to pull the old fan off? How sticky is thermal paste? (I'm not sure which kind is on the old fan, but it was OEM, so the paste is probably silicon.)
 
  


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