Thermal paste is used to conduct heat from your computer’s Central Processing Unit (CPU) to the CPU cooler, preventing overheating. However, it degrades over time, and it’s important to know how to clean it off and reapply a fresh coat regularly in order to achieve optimal CPU performance.
It’s very easy to apply too much paste, but it’s also difficult to remove a lot of the old stuff due to the small amount of workable surface area on a CPU socket and the fact that there are a lot of nooks and crannies. A cotton swab doused with some high-percentage (90% or above) isopropyl alcohol can do the trick, though it may take some patience and care to ensure that you’ve cleaned all of the old paste.
You’ll want to make sure that you use lint-free cloths or coffee filters to avoid contaminating the CPU and motherboard with any dust particles, which could inhibit cooling by creating an uneven surface between the IHS and the heat sink. A microfiber cloth is a good choice for this, but you can also use an old T-shirt or a paper towel. You’ll also need a bottle of isopropyl alcohol that has 90% or higher purity — lower percentages can leave residue on the surface, which can interfere with thermal transfer.
With the proper tools and preparation, you’ll be able to properly clean and reapply a fresh coat of thermal paste in no time. Just remember to switch off and unplug the computer before attempting any internal maintenance and to follow the proper electrostatic discharge precautions. Thermal paste removal