How To Correctly Apply Thermal Paste To CPU Or GPU

How to apply thermal Paste to CPU or GPU

Thermal paste is a crucial component to protect your CPU from heat and, of course, your investment from going up in smoke. With this in mind, knowing how to correctly apply the thermal paste is important, but so is buying the correct type of paste too. Chances are, you have stumbled upon quite a few different methods to apply thermal paste to your CPU or GPU, leaving you a little confused.

Don't worry; as long as you apply the correct amount, you are going to be fine. And we're here to guide you through the process.

Types Of Thermal Paste Application

To paraphrase a classic saying, there's more than one way to apply your thermal paste. And, you might be surprised to hear that a lot of those methods all work the same, so you don't need to get bogged down trying to find the "best method for applying thermal paste". From a small pea-sized dot to a cross, let's take a look at what difference these methods make on your PC build's temperature.

Application Methods

The results you can see above really drive home just how little your method matters. One thing's for sure, though, if you don't use enough, you may end up needing to replace one of your most prized components.

Part 1
How To Correctly Apply Thermal Paste To CPU

  1. 1

    Before you re-apply the thermal paste on your CPU, you should get rid of the old thermal paste from the ends of both the processor and the heatsink. Don’t worry, though; it’s quite simple.

    You’ll need:

    1. Microfiber / Lint-free cloth or cotton swab
    2. Isopropyl Alcohol
    3. Replacement Thermal Compound
  2. DSC02125

    Use the lint-free cloth to get rid of the first layer of thermal paste and apply the cloth or the microfiber with isopropyl alcohol to get rid of the remaining thermal paste on the chip.

  3. DSC02126

    Do this until you get rid of all the thermal paste on the chip.

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    Don’t forget to do this on the heat sink’s end as well.

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    Carefully apply a dot of the replacement thermal paste on the CPU when the chip is cleaned and the alcohol has dried.

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    Make sure you carefully place the heat sink back on the CPU after the paste is applied.

    NOTE: Don’t bother spreading out the paste at all as this should spread throughout evenly when you place the heat sink back on the CPU.

  7. 7

    Tighten the screws back.

  8. 8

    When everything is secured, you can set everything back and you should see improved temperatures, even in extreme gaming.


Part 2
How To Correctly Apply Thermal Paste To GPU

  1. 1

    You also need to get rid of the old thermal paste from your GPU, similarly to how we did with the CPU. You’ll need all the same equipment, with the addition of a screwdriver.

    What you need:

    1. Microfiber / Lint-free cloth or cotton swab
    2. Isopropyl Alcohol
    3. Replacement Thermal Compound
    4. Screwdriver (to remove the screws)
  2. DSC02137

    Make sure you unscrew all of the screws from the graphics card.

    NOTE: There are some graphics cards that have screws both on the top and bottom and even on the sides. Make sure you have them removed prior to removing the cover. You can tell whether or not everything is removed if it comes off easily. DO NOT apply too much pressure as it could cause damage to the card.

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    Don’t forget to keep an eye on the fan power plugs as they usually are fragile.

    IMPORTANT NOTE: If your GPU has thermal pads, it is best to leave them be unless your intention is to replace them with pads with the same dimensions in thickness.

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    When everything is removed and screws set aside, use the microfiber cloth with the isopropyl alcohol and clean both the GPU fan and the base of the GPU.

  5. DSC02151

    Apply the thermal paste to the chip just as we did with the CPU.

    NOTE: Leave it as it is and don’t spread it out as the heat sink should do the job and spread the paste evenly for you.

  6. DSC02152

    Carefully refit the cover of the graphics card.

  7. DSC02153

    Tighten the screws back in a cross pattern to make sure everything is fitted and tightened right.

  8. 8

    Install the GPU back onto the motherboard and you should see better performance in temperatures, even when loaded.



  1. There are many ways in which you can apply thermal paste to your CPU and GPU. You’ll also want to make sure that you know the difference between thermal grease vs. thermal paste before getting started.

    If you follow the steps and advice above, then you’ll be able to feel confident that not only are you correctly applying your thermal paste, you’ll also see improvements in your PC build’s performance. Don’t forget to check our best thermal paste review to make sure you’re getting the best product for your build as well!

    If you have any questions on how to apply thermal paste, which thermal paste to buy, or anything else in the world of PC building, why not head over to the WePC Community and both the WePC team, and your fellow builders, will be on hand to help!

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