Repair Guides

Thermal Paste: The Vehicle of Cool

Ever wonder why that green stuff in your car’s radiator is so important? Those of us that have a car with a leaky cooling system know that sitting in traffic puts the temperature needle in the red zone —  which has the potential to destroy the engine. The green coolant transfers heat from the engine to the radiator, keeping the engine cool and happy.

Thermal paste applied to the surface of a processor serves a similar purpose. During normal operation, a computer’s processor generates heat that transfers via thermal paste to a heat sink. The heat sink can be cooled either by a fan or a liquid cooling system. If you reassemble a computer without using thermal paste, air is the only substance to conduct heat between the processor and the heat sink.

Applying thermal paste with a spudger

A pocket of air surrounding your body insulates your skin from a cold environment. This effect is exactly what we do not want to subject our processor to. An insulated processor will quickly overheat, most likely causing permanent damage. Thermal paste is an excellent conductor of heat and is essential for keeping the processor temperature in check.

We created a guide on how to remove and apply thermal paste correctly. This procedure was performed on a MacBook Unibody, but the general steps can be used for any computer, whether Apple, PC, desktop, or laptop. However, be mindful that you never have to re-apply thermal paste during regular computer maintenance — only when you separate a processor from a heatsink. We love keeping you and your computer happy, and we hope you find the guide useful!