Clean and re-apply thermal paste for Intel CPU stock Cooler: The Self-Help Guide

This is a step-by-step guide for how to clean and re-apply thermal paste for Intel CPU with the stock CPU cooler that usually comes with its desktop socket processor. For many people, they would rather keep the Intel stock CPU cooler aside and get an aftermarket one which will give a significant boost in cooling performance, especially when you’re running CPU intensive tasks. But for some type of users, it’s good enough for the time being or don’t care about making that extra investment as long as it does the job.

But as always, maintenance is required. At some point, the processor would be overheating and also even shut down. For people in such a scenario, once they’ve narrowed it down to CPU temperature issues, they have two choices. Either buy a brand new CPU cooler to get much better cooling and even for overclocking (or simply replacing the Intel CPU cooler simply because it stopped working) or re-apply the thermal paste and keep using it for whatever reason. Fair enough!!

This self-help guide will help you to clean and re-apply a drop (a grain of rice equivalent) of thermal paste on a CPU stock cooler. But for those who want to replace the Intel stock CPU cooler with an aftermarket one, there’s another self-help preparation guide.

As mentioned in the CPU cooler guide, a thermal paste helps to transfer heat from the CPU’s integrated heatspreader to its cooler’s heatbase. This way the heat exchange can be made as quickly as possible. But thermal pastes have a wear level, which depends on the lifespan of the currently used thermal paste, the load and heat the processor dissipates and the amount of time the CPU is used, along with number cores and that. When you buy a processor-AMD or Intel- the thermal paste is pre-applied on the base itself. When the time is up for that paste, you’ll need to change it.


Changing the thermal paste is somewhat simple and it’s something that a person can do easily well within an hour. First, a good deal of information and tips will be given on what you need to get the job done.

Why should you change it on your own? If you do it yourself and do it right, then you’re practically half-way there to take off the entire system on your own. I learned how to build PCs by dissembling a PC using an Intel Pentium 4 (Willamette architecture) system and removing the CPU cooler when I was 14. Eventually, I’ve built a system using AMD 3000+ and an MSI something mATX motherboard with onboard ATi graphics, and now here I am!

Another reason is that some PC assemblers may not use a good enough thermal paste for cost-cutting reasons. The ones I’ve seen usually use a silicone-based filler which isn’t the best choice. A 1.4ml syringe has enough thermal paste for about 8-10 systems and will cost much lesser than what your guy will charge you for the job. If he needs to take the system with him, then the data on your system goes with him. If you want, you can always learn from this guide, get a CPU thermal paste of your choice and ask your preferred PC tech to change it in front of you. If he doesn’t mind (and if he’s honest), the tech will not mind. This way you can watch him do the entire process in front of you, relate with the guide all the way and even make sure he’s doing the job properly. The next time, you should be able to do this with full confidence. If this self-help guide gives you that confidence to do-it-yourself, nothing makes me happy.

If you’re doing it yourself, all you need is faith in yourself, the stuff you require for this process and complete attention with this guide. The time and effort taken to prepare this guide are way more than giving a fresh application of thermal paste. But a lot of effort is taken for this guide so that you won’t be stuck in the process of it.

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