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Step 6: Applying New Thermal Paste

How-To: Fix (And Prevent) Laptop Overheating
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Just about every different type of processing chip has a different method for applying thermal paste, but the methods for applying thermal paste onto laptop chips are fairly universal. Start with a single small dot of paste in the middle of the chip. Then, using the plastic edge (clean it off first) or the tip of the new thermal paste tube, spread it evenly over the rest of the chip. You’ll end up with a thin layer of thermal paste about the same thickness of a piece of paper.

Even though it’s tempting to cake on the thermal paste, it’s actually best to use as little as possible while still covering the whole chip. High-end thermal pastes are designed to work optimally when only thick enough to fill the various microgrooves on the face of the chip and heatsink while remaining just microns thick otherwise.

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  • 12 Hide
    Tomsguiderachel , December 1, 2010 8:03 PM
    SilmarunyaI'm having questions about the target audience of this article. I don't exactly see the kind of person that's stupid enough to let his/her pet sleep or play right next or even on top of his laptop open the thing up to clean it - after all, that sort of people usually thinks Facebook and word processing are the only things you can do with a computer.

    Welcome to Tom's Guide, home of regular people who love their gadgets and want to use technology to solve everyday problems. We live life, which can sometimes get a little messy, but we're eager and curious to solve our own problems when we can (and we don't hesitate to ask for help when we need it).

    Glad you're "smart" enough not to encounter any of the overheating-inducing lifestyle issues in this article!

    Thanks for the comment.

    Rachel Rosmarin
    Editor, Tom's Guide
Other Comments
  • -9 Hide
    Silmarunya , December 1, 2010 5:37 PM
    I'm having questions about the target audience of this article. I don't exactly see the kind of person that's stupid enough to let his/her pet sleep or play right next or even on top of his laptop open the thing up to clean it - after all, that sort of people usually thinks Facebook and word processing are the only things you can do with a computer.
  • 12 Hide
    Tomsguiderachel , December 1, 2010 8:03 PM
    SilmarunyaI'm having questions about the target audience of this article. I don't exactly see the kind of person that's stupid enough to let his/her pet sleep or play right next or even on top of his laptop open the thing up to clean it - after all, that sort of people usually thinks Facebook and word processing are the only things you can do with a computer.

    Welcome to Tom's Guide, home of regular people who love their gadgets and want to use technology to solve everyday problems. We live life, which can sometimes get a little messy, but we're eager and curious to solve our own problems when we can (and we don't hesitate to ask for help when we need it).

    Glad you're "smart" enough not to encounter any of the overheating-inducing lifestyle issues in this article!

    Thanks for the comment.

    Rachel Rosmarin
    Editor, Tom's Guide
  • 0 Hide
    liannfs , December 1, 2010 10:56 PM
    Thanks for the tips, these tips are quite useful. :) 
  • 0 Hide
    Djanarak , December 1, 2010 11:51 PM
    I noticed something missing (because I've worked in the electronics assembly industry briefly). You failed to mention what to do with the anti-static wriststrap. Where I worked once upon a time, we had our wriststraps plugged into earth-ground sockets placed on the top edge of our work tables. Now, its a hazard for anyone to do the same at home, so what is the best practice for working on laptops if you have an anti-static strap?
  • 9 Hide
    theshonen8899 , December 2, 2010 3:53 AM
    SilmarunyaI'm having questions about the target audience of this article. I don't exactly see the kind of person that's stupid enough to let his/her pet sleep or play right next or even on top of his laptop open the thing up to clean it - after all, that sort of people usually thinks Facebook and word processing are the only things you can do with a computer.


    Congratulations! You win the Tom's Guide Doochebag award! Please call 1-800-PureVag for details on how to receive your prize!
  • 1 Hide
    quantumrand , December 2, 2010 5:32 AM
    DjanarakI noticed something missing (because I've worked in the electronics assembly industry briefly). You failed to mention what to do with the anti-static wriststrap. Where I worked once upon a time, we had our wriststraps plugged into earth-ground sockets placed on the top edge of our work tables. Now, its a hazard for anyone to do the same at home, so what is the best practice for working on laptops if you have an anti-static strap?


    You make a good point. You probably don't want to shove an end of your anti-static strap into the ground hole of a power outlet. Anything mostly metallic works well as a ground. I usually just attach my anti-static strap to the edge of my work lamp.

    As a simple test, you can shuffle around in your socks and touch things around your workspace. If you get a shock, odds are it will make a decent enough ground.
  • 0 Hide
    Silmarunya , December 2, 2010 2:19 PM
    TomsguiderachelWelcome to Tom's Guide, home of regular people who love their gadgets and want to use technology to solve everyday problems. We live life, which can sometimes get a little messy, but we're eager and curious to solve our own problems when we can (and we don't hesitate to ask for help when we need it).Glad you're "smart" enough not to encounter any of the overheating-inducing lifestyle issues in this article!Thanks for the comment.Rachel RosmarinEditor, Tom's Guide


    I never meant to imply that Tom's Guide visitors are stupid - doing so would mean that I call myself stupid (as I'm a Tom's Guide visitor myself), as well as the makers of the many great articles on this site, and many of the visitors that leave some pretty useful/funny comments most of the time.

    However, I'm just pointing out that someone who allows his pet to play with his laptop usually isn't the kind of person that cares about technology much...
  • 0 Hide
    allenpan , December 2, 2010 2:20 PM
    horrible article, "never" use compress air for blow out dust, "always" use tooth brush and blow it with low volecity air (mouth works), and replace thermal pad the copper sheet, various between 1mm to .5mm, also, if possible replace the Al heat trasfer with Cu,

    example, Dell XPS 1530, i1520, 1420, so on

    some laptop need to redo the heatpipe to make it better contact

    example: HP DV25xx, 27xx so on

    for laptop "if" you use compress air and it will 100% damage the board, most of time are the low profile light weight board, since the cpu is BGA, and also of heatsink in solder near other compoment such as powerFET

    example: lifebook S 64xx, so on

    this article is close to usless
  • 0 Hide
    allenpan , December 2, 2010 2:23 PM
    btw, i cal almost be 100% sure the laptop in the article is dell i1420, and in order to "really" clean it, u need also take bottom case off, to clean the GPU heatsink/fan, which is right below the cpu heat transfer fin
  • 0 Hide
    cklaubur , December 2, 2010 4:16 PM
    allenpanhorrible article, "never" use compress air for blow out dust, "always" use tooth brush and blow it with low volecity air (mouth works), and replace thermal pad the copper sheet, various between 1mm to .5mm, also, if possible replace the Al heat trasfer with Cu, example, Dell XPS 1530, i1520, 1420, so onsome laptop need to redo the heatpipe to make it better contactexample: HP DV25xx, 27xx so onfor laptop "if" you use compress air and it will 100% damage the board, most of time are the low profile light weight board, since the cpu is BGA, and also of heatsink in solder near other compoment such as powerFETexample: lifebook S 64xx, so onthis article is close to usless


    The compressed air is meant for the fan and the heatsink, not the motherboard.

    Casey
  • 0 Hide
    allenpan , December 2, 2010 4:41 PM
    some of the heatsink has build in differential sensor embeded on the fins, any compress air will damage it, again, some of the heatsink is solder on the board, u will damage the surrounding compoment too
  • 0 Hide
    DjEaZy , December 2, 2010 5:05 PM
    ... not all laptopa open up the same...
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , December 2, 2010 6:44 PM
    As a tech who regularly repairs laptops, I have to say I agree that this is not a job for the average computer enthusiast - I can't tell you how many laptops I have taken in that come in parts (often some are missing) from someone who *started* to repair their own laptop and couldn't put it back together. I'm not saying it takes special training or genius of any kind, but here are a few things to keep in mind:
    Always mark each screw removed from the case (exactly where it came from) as they often vary in length and putting a screw that's too long in could cause a direct short and a failure - so keep track of those screws! Also, be *very* careful with the flat cables - don't just yank them out of their connectors; often there is a little slider on the socket that locks/releases the cable. Also don't bend them anywhere they aren't already bent (or you will likely break them.) There are many other things to keep in mind... but more than anything else, take your time and document as you go so you will remember how it all goes back together.
  • 1 Hide
    quantumrand , December 2, 2010 6:51 PM
    chehalisjeffAs a tech who regularly repairs laptops, I have to say I agree that this is not a job for the average computer enthusiast - I can't tell you how many laptops I have taken in that come in parts (often some are missing) from someone who *started* to repair their own laptop and couldn't put it back together. I'm not saying it takes special training or genius of any kind, but here are a few things to keep in mind:Always mark each screw removed from the case (exactly where it came from) as they often vary in length and putting a screw that's too long in could cause a direct short and a failure - so keep track of those screws! Also, be *very* careful with the flat cables - don't just yank them out of their connectors; often there is a little slider on the socket that locks/releases the cable. Also don't bend them anywhere they aren't already bent (or you will likely break them.) There are many other things to keep in mind... but more than anything else, take your time and document as you go so you will remember how it all goes back together.


    Excellent advice. I'd just like to add, if things look like they're getting too complicated for you (before you get the heatsink off) there's no harm in turning back. Cleaning out the vents as described in the first two steps is generally enough to reduce overheating at least temporarily.

    And as chehalisjeff said, the best advice is to take your time and pay close attention to everything you do, taking notes if necessary.
  • 0 Hide
    ethaniel , December 2, 2010 9:53 PM
    Sometimes I use a pen eraser to remove old, hardened thermal paste (I know, it's a pain just to imagine it). Also, Isopropanol is recommended, but not the "it's-gonna-blow-up" critical item someone could imagine. As for static, well, you just need to discharge yourself. Touch a wall, the floor, a door knob or a metallic water tap if you don't have a wrist strap with you. Good article.
  • 0 Hide
    Luscious , December 3, 2010 2:50 AM
    Step 0 - turn off F@H smp and gpu clients
  • 0 Hide
    quantumrand , December 3, 2010 4:52 AM
    LusciousStep 0 - turn off F@H smp and gpu clients


    Hahaha, I suppose laptops make decent F@H boxes, considering they usually pull less than like 150W, as opposed to a beefy gaming rig pulling closer to 800W. Take a Core i7-720QM with Radeon Mobility 5870 for example. How many work units do you think it could do compared to a Desktop Core i7-860 and Radeon 5870? I think per watt, a nice laptop would make a great F@H box to run 24/7. It's a bit pricier than a desktop would be, but saves a bit of space...Just thinking.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , December 3, 2010 5:25 AM
    You forgot one very important thing to mention that will definitely reduce the temperatures of your laptop.

    Undervolting!

    It's far more simple to do than figuring out the steps to dismantle your laptop. It's also safer because it is done at a software level. Maybe next time you can tell your readers how to accomplish this. I've done it to my laptop and achieved lower temperatures at idle and full load without negative hit to my clock speeds. This will also increase the amount of time your laptop will run on battery. It's several bonuses wrapped into one that only requires a very small amount of trial and error.
  • 0 Hide
    Luscious , December 3, 2010 8:53 AM
    quantumrandHahaha, I suppose laptops make decent F@H boxes, considering they usually pull less than like 150W, as opposed to a beefy gaming rig pulling closer to 800W. Take a Core i7-720QM with Radeon Mobility 5870 for example. How many work units do you think it could do compared to a Desktop Core i7-860 and Radeon 5870? I think per watt, a nice laptop would make a great F@H box to run 24/7. It's a bit pricier than a desktop would be, but saves a bit of space...Just thinking.

    Except that not all laptops are built the same, especially when it comes to heatsinks and cooling. On a hot day my SLI rig can hit BIOS thermal limits easily when GPU and CPU are at 100% for several hours. While it's true you can get a cooling pad to help, simply turning F@H off in the first place will prevent overheating and an annoying shutdown. Running it 24/7 would require a very lean CPU as far as thermals go, and those kinds of notebook processors don't win when it comes to PPD. A slimline desktop box would get you far better folding performance per buck.

    All that said, I run the smp client on my quad-core notebook, but not 24/7, and when it's time to game or it gets warm, I kill it. Gotta protect my gear first and foremost!
  • 0 Hide
    getochkn , December 4, 2010 1:24 AM
    Way too much thermal paste on the die in their photo. They should have used the credit card and smoothed it out. They got enough on there to do two dies. They say you want as thin a layer as possible then show it with peaks and valleys. I bet if they screwed that heat sink on, then took it, it was squirted out all over sides of it and the die.
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