How to remove and apply thermal paste to a CPU

removing thermal paste using a q-tip

How to remove and apply thermal paste to a CPU

Level:  Intermediate

Time Taken:  10-30 minutes

What you will need:

Thermal Paste

Cotton Buds/Q-Tips > lint free cloth

Isopropyl alcohol 90+% /acetone> water


If your computer or laptop is running just a tad bit too hot for your liking, chances are, removal of old thermal paste and the application of new paste can reduce the temperature of your CPU/GPU and fix any problems (computer randomly shuts down, poor performance, noisy fans) you may be experiencing.


Choosing the right Thermal Paste


If you have never worked on a computer before, then I suggest you follow the steps carefully and if you are not confident in your ability, consider getting a professional or someone who knows what they are doing to help you.  The CPU is a sensitive component and can be easily damaged if the proper precautions are not taken.


Open you computer case, taking all health and safety precautions, remove the heat sink/fan that sits on top of your CPU.  There are different kinds of heat sinks/fans, many of which are a pain to remove; you may have to consult your manufactures guide on how to remove yours.  Once removed, take your CPU from its holding, carefully lifting it as to not touch the pins or circuitry.


proper way to hold a CPU

how to remove an intel heat sink













To begin removing the thermal paste, dip a Q-tip into the rubbing alcohol (or whatever item you are using to clean with) gently rub back and forth across the CPU, as the alcohol sets in, the paste will begin to dissolve and the compound should come off with relative ease.  Repeat this process until all of the thermal paste has been removed.  The same action should be performed on the bottom of the heat sink.


removing thermal paste using a q-tip


Once the compound is removed, using the new thermal paste you have, place a pea sized amount onto the centre of the CPU.  As it sits on top of the CPU, the heat sink does not need any of the paste applied directly to it.  Place the CPU back into its holding, secure the heat sink back on top of the CPU and that’s you done!


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  1. Cleaning The Inside of a PC

    […] Here is a more in-depth guide to removing and applying thermal paste on to your CPU. […]

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