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Old 04-28-2004, 10:41 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Thermal Compound

How much does the thermal compound actually help the CPU, if at all? I know pc builders who use it and some who don't. Is it damaging to not use it? Just searching for personal opinions....
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Old 04-28-2004, 11:29 PM   #2 (permalink)
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In an ideal situation, the bottom of your heat sink and the top of your processor will be absolutely flat making them mate perfectly. This will allow your heatsink to absorb all the heat that your processor puts out making the temperature the same over the entire processor.

In reality this doesn't happen. Most heat sinks are not prefectly flat and neither are most processors. So you end up with processor and heat sink touching in only a few spots. This makes for uneven heat transfer and higher temperatures.

Heat sink compound is thermally conductive. This means that it transfers heat through itself. When applied to the top of the processor, it fills in the gaps between the processor and the heatsink thus optimising the transfer of heat from the processor to the heatsink.

Should you use it all the time? Probably, unless you're willing to take the time to lap the bottom of every heatsink and the top of every processor.
Is it damaging to use? No
Is it damaging to not use it? It can be if you have a severe mismatch between the heatsink and processor.

-Target
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Old 04-28-2004, 11:37 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Don't know of any pc builder who doesn't use it. Yes it makes a difference. It even makes a difference if you use a good or bad thermal compound. Why take a chance in not using it? The very best is cheap. At around 3 to 5 USD for a 3.5 g tube, you have enough to probably do at least 5 to 10 cpus. If I built a new system every 2 years I would probably loose it before I use up the tube.
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Old 04-29-2004, 01:18 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Like Target said if you want to use thermal paste... might as well lap the heatsink. But it is really helpful, you should do it.
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Old 04-29-2004, 11:27 AM   #5 (permalink)
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If you are going to use thermal paste, which i highly recommend, make sure you get some decent stuff from the arctic silver company. It may seem a little expensive, but to protect the investment of your processor, its worth it. Also make sure you dont put a ton on there. Just because you get a large tube doesnt mean you have to use it all . Put on just enough for full contact, this will give you the best possible results with the lowest temperatures.
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Old 04-29-2004, 12:17 PM   #6 (permalink)
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i think for the little cost its worth it, i would not really wanna damage an expensive cpu
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Old 04-29-2004, 04:36 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Thank you all for your opinions. I have just heard some say that the thermal paste traps the heat on the CPU. After reading these responses, that theory really doesn't seem valid.

Another question...or survey, if you will:

Do you recommend putting a thin layer on just the heatsink, or both the CPU & heatsink? I have also heard people doing both.

Also, any ideas on good software to track the temps and/or performance?
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Old 04-29-2004, 06:14 PM   #8 (permalink)
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a thin layer on the heatsink to even out the surface then a thin layer on the cpu
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Old 04-29-2004, 07:03 PM   #9 (permalink)
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i use this to track temps and performance:

http://www.cpuid.com/pcw.php
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