The correct way to apply the best thermal paste has been a hotly debated topic among PC enthusiasts since the beginning of PC DIY. Some affirm that the best application method is a central blob, a cross, a line, a more intricate pattern, or spread over the chip like butter on a cracker, Igor Wallossek of Igor’s Lab says GPU rather than CPU He tried to test and demonstrate the best thermal paste application method. Igor found that the best method yields a liquid-cooled GPU that runs 5 degrees Celsius cooler than the least preferred method.
Essentially, Igor’s GPU Repaste Guide, he first talks about how important it is to apply the thermal paste correctly on large GPUs. Smaller GPUs are more forgiving, but larger, more powerful GPUs have uneven surfaces that can warp under tension in the cooling assembly. We recently saw a similar warpage story with elongated Alder Lake CPUs that were thermally improved by using a mounting frame.
Igor also stresses the importance of properly cleaning old thermal paste. He provides a walkthrough of his method, what to watch out for and what not to fuss about.
Interestingly, Igor claims that using a high viscosity thermal paste is essential due to the “brutal” gap between the GPU and the cooler. As for GPUs, it steadfastly denies popular products like the Arctic MX-2 and MX-4, but has good words for Alphacool Apex and Subzero, or the “old Gelid PC Extreme.”
Before applying the paste to the GPU, the paste should be “hand warm” temperature. The same applies to GPUs. Igor suggests putting a tube of thermal his paste in your pocket for a few minutes to make sure the GPU die isn’t cold. Before and after application, a little manipulation with a hair dryer will make the viscous paste easier to work with.
For the controversial thermal paste application geometry, Igor tested a GPU completely “painted” with the paste, as well as a center blob and a vertical line (the famous sausage). Sadly he missed Central Cross and some other common methodologies/permutations. For example, take a look at Noctua’s CPU paste recommendations revealed earlier this week.
Sausage wins, but relies on the seesaw screw tension method
A sausage-style central vertical line was the easy winner in Igor’s test. However, its use is tied to a particular screw tensioning method. First, when reinstalling the cooling assembly, it should be placed straight on the GPU without sliding. Then apply a little tension to the pair of screws on one side, then move the other side back and forth a few times – like a seesaw.
In his test, the sausage method was the clear winner, improving by about 5 degrees Celsius over the other method. said he did.
Finally, Igor sticks to his paste-and-cooler method of tensioning, saying that some manufacturers have adopted methods very similar to those outlined above. Perhaps readers can try this method the next time they re-paste their old GPU. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
There are so many thermal pastes to choose from in 2022. If you’re confused about which to choose, it’s worth taking a look at our roundup of the best thermal pastes considering 90 products.