Thermal paste is important for facilitating efficient heat transfer between the CPU Integrated Heat-Sink (IHS) and the cooler. It can be applied directly to the IHS or to a heatsink, and it is often recommended to reapply fresh thermal paste from time to time in order to increase the performance of your PC. However, before reapplying the paste, you must clean off any old thermal grease that remains on the processor, as it can cause the new application to fail or overflow. This article will show you how to do it quickly and easily with a few inexpensive items.
You will need some rubbing alcohol (or isopropyl alcohol, IPA), a lint free cotton swab and a lint free paper towel to wipe off any remaining thermal paste residue. Rubbing alcohol is inexpensive and readily available in most households, and is not electrically conductive. Ideally, you will use a 70% or higher isopropyl alcohol solution for this step. Using lower concentrations may cause the alcohol to evaporate too quickly, leaving behind electrically conductive particles.
Note: Do not use water to clean off the thermal paste, as this can cause short circuits on your motherboard. Nail polish remover is also not a good option, as it contains acetone which can damage your IHS and the plastic/metal components on your motherboard.
To start, gently peel off any excess paste from the edges of the CPU. This is often the most difficult part of the process and may take some effort, but will ensure that you don’t accidentally smear any of it onto your motherboard where it could damage or disrupt other components.