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Remove"Thermal Interface Pad" before applying thermal paste?

Postby HEAT84 » Wed Sep 02, 2009 3:16 am

My friend's PC was randomly hanging (except during a Spybot S+D scan,it happens every time at various stages) Its 7 years old, A Pentium4 Northwood socket 478mpga. After extensive troubleshooting I discovered the CPU was overheating. It was topping out at 95°C/203°F according to the bios. I removed the heatsink to look at the pad it there was hardly any compound left(a very thin layer). At least going by what I'm used to seeing. I'm used to AMD CPU heatsinks which have a thicker compound pad. A piece of tinfoil held in place with the thermal compound seems pretty shoddy to me. Wouldn't it be better without the pad? It has compound on both sides anyways.
What I wanted to know is, do i need to keep the "Thermal Interface Pad" when I apply the new thermal paste? Here's the heatsink I have. Another thing that worries me is clamping the heatsink back in. First you have clip it in on 4 corners then pull two levers in opposite directions. I'm worried the new paste would get smeared around while I'm doing all that. The person who designed this fastening system is one sadistic bastard.
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Re: Remove"Thermal Interface Pad" before applying thermal paste?

Postby zbeast » Wed Sep 02, 2009 6:39 am

Remove the pad. clean the contact surface on the heatsink with alcohol, clean the processer
with alcohol. Now with both surfaces clean apply in fresh heatsink compound to the heatsink in a thin layer.
it should be a about the thickness of a business card.
don't worry about that paste getting spread around you should still have enough paste left
after assembly to still make the heatsink work.

here's the deal on those "pads"... those pads are heatsink compound, they were made to be assembled dry!
If you see one of these put together with the pad and then heatsink compound stuck on it.
Then it was assembled wrong! The double layer of bad and compound now as an insulator preventing
heat from getting from the chip to the heatsink.
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Re: Remove"Thermal Interface Pad" before applying thermal paste?

Postby Fartingbob » Wed Sep 02, 2009 8:48 am

As zbeast said, clean off all the gunk from the heatsink and CPU and get yourself a small tube of thermal paste. Apply a small amount (i find a blob about the size of a grain of rice in the middle of the heatsink more than enough, it spreads out in a fairly even layer then) of paste and make sure its firmly secured. Hopefully the CPU and socket wont have been permamently damaged by the very high heat, which liekly would have been going on for quite a while. If it still has problems then its likely the CPU is fried, you'll be needing a new CPU (and likely a new board since its hard to find a CPu these days for such an old socket). Probably new RAM as well. Sounds expensive, but a bargain bin bundle wont cost much. Could even get an Atom board for very cheap. It'll be faster than the current CPU and the chip doesnt even need a heatsink, it runs so cool.
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Re: Remove"Thermal Interface Pad" before applying thermal paste?

Postby IneptVagrant » Wed Sep 02, 2009 5:03 pm

Depends if your model has a heat spreader or not, silver plate covering most the chip.

If you do, there is no reason to spread out the paste, cause it will get spread out when you latch down the heatsink. I don't put paste on both the cpu and heatsink either. You don't need to cover the entire surface, the CPU underneath the heat spreader is only about 1/2 the area.

The smallest tube of artic silver is 3.5g, which is enough for 10 large cpu die, or 20 small die

There are some guides from arctic silver here http://www.arcticsilver.com/arctic_silv ... ctions.htm

The first cpu I ever did, burned out from using too much compound and it eventually dripped to the edge and underneath the cpu several weeks later. I had a friend did it also, but his ran for a couple years before the excess paste caused it to burn out.
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Re: Remove"Thermal Interface Pad" before applying thermal paste?

Postby HEAT84 » Wed Sep 02, 2009 10:09 pm

So I don't need the piece of aluminum that's there? Its only connected to the heat sink by one edge. I think I may have confused you. I also referred to the square of compound as a pad.

Apparently compound and paste are synonymous. I always thought what came on the heatsink from the factory was compound and what you bought to replace it with was paste.

Also, Is that how CPU overheat protection worked 7 years ago? The bios didn't shut down the PC, it just hung it?
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Re: Remove"Thermal Interface Pad" before applying thermal paste?

Postby Paladwyn » Wed Sep 02, 2009 11:01 pm

Chances is that pad is just purnt out and cooked. Instead of it being soft, it would probably be baked and hard. Scrape that junk off the heatsink and like they said, put paste on. This will really help.

The aluminum you speak of, is it like aluminum foil? Or are you referring to the entire heatsink? If there is foil there, then that is really wrong..
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Re: Remove"Thermal Interface Pad" before applying thermal paste?

Postby HEAT84 » Thu Sep 03, 2009 1:15 am

It about as thick as(or the consistency of) aluminum duct tape. It has compound or paste on both sides of it which makes no sense to me. Maybe the person who built the PC for my friend didn't install it properly. Heatsinks I've dealt with before have a piece of copper or other metal on it that the thermal compound was on. I've never seen a thin piece of aluminum. Maybe its an Intel thing? Also, there's some sort of glue on two of the edges on the heatsink facing side.

Here's a picture:
Image
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Re: Remove"Thermal Interface Pad" before applying thermal paste?

Postby IneptVagrant » Thu Sep 03, 2009 7:05 am

lol that looks like total crap. Someone was a loon when they installed it.

Remove what ever that is, and clean off what ever is under it.

A thermal pad is just paste made into a firm square so its ezier to apply, hence they call it a compound, since its no longer paste. When you remove a heatsink that has used a thermal pad they appear very similar to as if u had used paste.

Heatsinks I've dealt with before have a piece of copper or other metal on it that the thermal compound was on
Thats an inset of a different kind of metel, one that is more expensive but conducts heat better. The idea is to pull the heat away quicker where the surface area is smaller, and let it disperse to the rest of the heatsink where you can increase the surface area dramatically to a cheaper metal. It doesn't come off like, especially not like in the picture you posted. Usually it was a Copper core insert in alluminanum, like this http://www.frostytech.com/articleimages ... h3_bot.jpg

Also, Is that how CPU overheat protection worked 7 years ago? The bios didn't shut down the PC, it just hung it?
Yeah it just ran until it bluescreened and/or wouldn't boot at all. You do small steps up until you bluescreened, and then backed off a few steps and ran some benchmarks, stepping down every time you got a bluescreen.

Modern CPUs do speed-stepping instead, when it gets too hot they speedstep to a lower speed, so you just monitor the clock rate on it and watch for it to change lower now. Pentium D was the first overclocking chip that did this well. You didn't have to wry about it burning out, cause it would just step itself down when it got to hot.
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Re: Remove"Thermal Interface Pad" before applying thermal paste?

Postby HEAT84 » Thu Sep 03, 2009 8:27 am

There was no overclocking involved(the bios won't allow it, at least for this CPU). There were never BSOD's and the PC always booted, it just randomly hung.


As for they way it looks, that really doesn't matter. It was likely perfectly flat before I removed the heatsink. Its the thermal paste being on both sides that confuses me. I was just wondering if I needed that aluminum piece. You and the page where I got that pic from say I don't so I guess I don't.


Hmm, I found this. That's the heatsink I have. I took the fan off the one I have to clean out the dust.:
Image
I guess what happened is the compound evaporated over the years.
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Re: Remove"Thermal Interface Pad" before applying thermal paste?

Postby HEAT84 » Sat Sep 05, 2009 6:37 am

I finally got it back together and its running less than half as hot as it was. :D

I did have a complication though. When I was practicing putting the heatsink back on, I discovered that one of the catches on the Heatsink Retention Module:
Image had broken. The very top had broken off in 2 pieces.That's probably what was causing the CPU to overheat. Using a tie wrap, a soldering iron(to melt a slot for the tie wrap to go through in the HRM), and my MacGyver sense(well, some of it I get from my dad), I was able to fix it. :D The only thing I'm worried about is the heatsink melting the tie wrap. But I don't think it'll get anywhere close to hot enough. I'm also worried about the tie wrap drying and cracking. But I don't think that should be an issue either.
The MB this PC has uses screws to mount the HRM, not fasteners like the one in the picture BTW.
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