Introduction: How to Replace Thermal Compound on a CPU

The CPU is the brain of the PC. Without it, nothing can happen as it directs all functions within a computer. The 2 major companies that make CPUs are AMD and Intel. Qualcomm and ARM also create CPUs, but these are not usually made for home computers. Clock speeds (Ghz) measure how quickly a CPU can perform actions, higher clock means faster speeds. Cores also play a part, more cores means more things can happen at the same time. This is why most CPUs today are dual, quad, or even octa-core CPUs.

Step 1: Diagram

The Caches hold addresses in RAM that need to be accessed quickly.

The ALU performs arithmetic calculations and comparisons

IO management's sends instructions to and from the CPU
The FPU is a special device that performs mathematical calculations faster than normal circuitry

Step 2: Physical and Software Maintenance

There are not many physical things that you need to maintain on a CPU. Making sure the thermal compound is not dried out and old is the only main issue you will have. Making sure it doesn't overheat is also an issue, especially with overclocking.

Software maintenance is also relatively non-existent. A utility like CPU-Z can be used to monitor temperatures and clock speeds, but there is not much that you can do with software

Step 3: How to Troubleshoot the CPU

The biggest signal that there is something wrong with your CPU is that the computer shuts off immediately after turning on, without any warning. The computer will also not POST (Power On Self Test) If it detects no CPU, or a damaged cpu.

The simplest problem to fix is when the computer does turn on, but shuts off immediately after the fans spin up. This is caused by bad thermal compound, or a cooling issue, as the CPU detects that it is overheating and shuts down.

The other issue is more of an issue as you will most likely have bent pins on the cpu or motherboard. It can also be caused by having a bad CPU socket or a bad cpu. The only solution is to to replace the damaged component, or attempt to bend the pins back (not recommended)

I will go over how to fix a cooling issue with your cpu, usually caused by old and degraded thermal compound.

Step 4: Check the Heatsink Fan and Make Sure That It Is Seated.

Check the fan to make sure it is functioning, and make sure that the heatsink is contacting the CPU. If everything is good, then you will need to replace the thermal paste.

Step 5: Remove the Heatsink

If you have a heatsink with a latch, flip the latch and pull the heatsink directly upward to avoid pulling the CPU out. Do this slowly, as dry thermal compound sometimes adheres to the CPU and pulls it out if you are not careful. This can lead to damaged pins. Make sure to disconnect the fan as well.

Step 6: Remove the CPU

There is a retaining latch that hold the CPU in the socket. Lift this latch, it may have to be moved outward, then it will lift up. Use caution as this latch is usually under pressure. If you have an AMD CPU , be especially careful to lift the CPU DIRECTLY UPWARD. This will prevent pins on the CPU from bending, and bent pins usually cannot be fixed.

Step 7: Prepare to Remove Thermal Paste

There is most likely old/dried out thermal paste on your CPU. You will need some materials.

- A tube of thermal compound (Be careful if using silver based, as it will short connections on the board)

- Paper towel

- Rubbing alcohol (Higher % The better)

Step 8: Remove Paste

Dampen the paper towel with rubbing alcohol. Rub the CPU and heatsink with the towel, and slowly remove the thermal compound from the CPU. This may take some time, so be patient. Do the same with the heatsink.

Step 9: Re-install the CPU

Follow the steps for inserting the CPU in reverse. Make sure that the gold arrow that is on the CPU is in the same spot as the arrow stamped into the CPU socket. Lower the CPU directly downward into the socket. Be careful not to slide the CPU into the socket, as it can bend the pins. Lower the latch and lock it into place.

Step 10: Apply New Thermal Paste

The best method for thermal paste application is to apply a 1/2 pea sized amount directly on the CPU. This may not seem like much, but is spreads over the entire CPU.

Step 11: Re-install Heatsink

Lower the heatsink directly onto the CPU, be careful not to slide it around and possible push thermal paste off of the CPU. If any leaks around the edges, use a paper towel and rubbing alcohol to remove it. Be careful to let the alcohol evaporate before using the system. Flip the latch to lock it into place. Re-attach the fan cable.

Step 12: Turn on and Test the PC.

Your computer should now boot up normally. If it does not, make sure you check other components that may be improperly seated, or it may be that the CPU is damaged and will no longer function. I accept no responsibility for damaged components as a result of you improperly executing this procedure.