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You’ll need to know how to remove thermal paste from CPU if you’re changing your cooler or if you’ve noticed drops in your PC’s performance, as this could be a result of overheating. You would also need to remove thermal paste if you’ve bought a cooler that has come with thermal paste pre-installed, as this is not necessarily the best thermal paste to use and you may be better off applying thermal paste that we picked as the best thermal paste for CPU. Worried your CPU is overheating? We’ve got you covered if you need to know how to check your CPU temperature.
Even if you are just taking your cooler out for a few seconds, you still have to repeat the process over again, as attempting to reuse old thermal paste can lead to air bubbles or dust getting trapped in the paste, and reducing the efficiency with which heat can be transferred from the CPU to the cooler. Which is why it’s always the smarter choice to change the thermal paste whenever you remove parts from your heatsink.
We’ve already talked about how to apply thermal paste, but now we’re going to give you a step by step on how to remove the old thermal paste, which may be responsible for your CPU overheating or causing performance issues. Let’s get started.
ARCTIC MX-4 – Premium Performance Thermal Paste
Effective up to
150 degrees Celsius
All CPUs, GPUs, PlayStation, Xbox and PC
How to clean thermal paste off your CPU
- An important first step that you should do whenever getting into your PC’s hardware, is to refer to the manufacturer’s manual or look it up online if you no longer have the physical copy. This is because the way in which PCs are built is not universal, and you don’t want to unscrew or detach the wrong thing in your PC when trying to access your core processor.
- If your PC is switched off, you’ll want to go ahead and turn it on, and let it run for a few minutes before you then shut it down and unplug the power supply, and any accessories plugged into your computer. This is because thermal paste sets hard, and trying to remove a heatsink/cooler from your CPU when it is cold could end up damaging your hardware. By letting your PC run for a few minutes, it allows the paste to soften to ensure it is easier to separate the cooler from your CPU.
- Unscrew or unlatch the side panel of your PC and then locate your CPU and cooler. Gradually remove the heatsink from your CPU by loosening the screws, ensuring each screw is loosened gradually and equal pressure is released.
- Use a small amount of isopropyl alcohol on either a lint-free cloth or a cotton swab, and then begin to wipe the thermal paste from the bottom of the cooler.
- Keeping the CPU in the socket, begin the same process of removing the thermal paste using isopropyl alcohol on a lint-free cloth or cotton swab. Be gentle! You’ll also want to make sure any paste that has gotten into recesses is cleaned out using a cotton swab.
- Do not immediately go in with a fresh round of thermal paste, you’ll want to leave the CPU and cooler so that the isopropyl alcohol evaporates before you begin the process of adding new thermal paste.
Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut, High Performance Thermal Paste
Effective up to
320 degrees Celsius
CPUs, GPUs, PlayStation, Xbox and PC
Should I wipe off old thermal paste?
Yes, reusing thermal paste may seem like a good idea if it hasn’t been very long since you first installed it, but this can lead to air bubbles in the paste that reduce its efficiency and effectiveness at transferring heat from the CPU to the heatsink, which can lead to your CPU overheating and throttling, so you should always remove the old thermal paste and go in with fresh paste every time.
What can you use to remove thermal paste?
You’ll want to use a microfiber/lint-free cloth, so that no fibers from the cloth get stuck to the hardware, and isopropyl alcohol to remove the thermal paste without damaging your PC’s components. You can also use cotton swabs to get thermal paste out of any recesses.