Originally posted by iUser
How does the stock heatsink come off? Just pull hard?
Nobody answered this so I will. What CPU socket do you have? S939? S775?
For AMD socket 939:
You'll see a black lever thing on one side. You have to lift this up. It's spring loaded so it's stuck in pretty good, just push and it will lift up. Then, there are two metel pieces with punchouts that fit onto the socket. One side has a place for a flathead screwdriver. What you do is stick the screwdriver in this place (it's like a tab) and then you push downwards (towards the mobo) and slightly twist the screwdriver to get the metal piece off the socket. DO NOT pry it, hit it, force it, pull on it, or any other stupid means of getting it off. It's all covering delicate parts so be careful. Also take care not to slip with the screwdriver and take out a capacitor on the mobo...
For Intel socket 775:
On all four corners you'll see a little post-type-thing. On the top is a slot. What you do here is take a flat head screwdriver and push down on top and then turn it counter-clockwise (I think) as far as you can and then release pressure and it will pop out of the hole. Go to the opposite corner and do the same and then repeat until all four are out. Much easier than AMD's design in my opinion.
To clean the thermal compound off, first remember to leave the CPU in the socket at all times to prevent breaking the pins. Now, go buy some 91% Isopropyl alcohol and some coffee filters. Generously put the alcohol onto a coffee filter, and then rub the compound off the CPU and heatsink. The reason you use a coffee filter is because it is lint-free, you don't want lint or little pieces of debris all over everything. Rubbing alcohol will evaporate, so don't worry about drying it.
Once all the thermal compound is off, give it a good scrubbing with a clean alcohol-soaked coffee filter. Now, take your thermal compound. Put a small drop about the size of a BB or a grain of un-cooked white rice in the dead-center of the CPU. Now put the heatsink on top, and once it's all the way down twist it side-to-side about 3 degrees to help prevent air bubbles from forming.
Once the heatsink has touched the thermal compound, don't remove it. If you remove it you have to start all over again. Try not to move it around too much either, because you don't want to spread the thermal compound amongst electrical components (it's mildly conductive...after all, it is basically silver putty in a tube).
As for what cooler, the Zalman CNPS9500 is $53.99 USD and is very very good, and fits almost all the socket types (besides AM2, but the one for AM2 is a few bucks cheaper).
Well, hopefully that answered all your questions.