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How much does thermal paste actually add to cooling the CPU?

I am looking for some techie advice here. I have a home built system with a P4 2.80 GHz 800 MHz bus and a stock fan and cooler for the unit. I've got it on an ASUS P4P8X motherboard, and running an ATI Radeon 9800 Pro with it. I just recently got a new Chenbro gaming case with a 120 MM rear fan, 92 MM front fan, and I've added a 'card fan' (dual fans, about 40 mm in size, fits in the PCI slot beneath the AGP slot) by Vantec to provide more vertical air flow.

When I initially put this thing together, I didn't know what I was doing and did not put thermal paste on my CPU/heatsink contact. I am currently running my CPU anywhere from 105-115 degrees and the system seems to run just fine. But, I want it to run BETTER. How much better are 'custom' heatsinks like the Arctic I've read about, and how much more bang for your buck do you get by adding thermal paste. I want some objective numbers, so if anyone's got 'em I'd appreciate it. Thanks!!

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Thermal paste. . .

In reply to: How much does thermal paste actually add to cooling the CPU?

adds conductivity. It makes the transfer of heat more efficient. Without it heat remains on the processor chip. With it heat is transferred to the cooling fins.

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By stock fan, do you mean that you

In reply to: How much does thermal paste actually add to cooling the CPU?

bought the Retail CPU. They come with the HSF. For a while they came with the thermal paste on the bottom of the Heatsink. It looked like a sticker because it was so perfect. Touch it and one realized that it was a paste. Later they went back to supplying a small tube of thermal compound with them.

In your case you have an Intel CPU. They already have a heat spreader on them, and although they would possibly do a little better with thermal paste, I wouldn't expect more than 4 C degrees.

AMD only has the approx 1 square inch chip to contact for heat transfer, definitely needs thermal paste. [the 64 bit versions do have a heat spreader, they have copied most of the good heat protection things that Intel has had for a few years.]

Artic Siler and a few others are also electrically conductive so be careful to not get it on anything but the heat spreadr. The thermal compound goes on in a very thin layer. Too thick and it tends to npot transfer heat as well.

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Re: By stock fan, do you mean that you

In reply to: By stock fan, do you mean that you

Ray, thanks a lot for that information! I had actually been thinking about getting a whole new heatsink/fan setup and installing that. When I finally make the decision to install the new HSF setup, do you recommend spreading paste on the CPU as well as the sink, or will the sink alone do?

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No you put it on the CPU only.

In reply to: Re: By stock fan, do you mean that you

When the heatsink comes with the paste on it, it was put there by a manufacturing process that knows EXACTLY where the CPU will mate with the heatsink. [extremely important for the AMD's, but also for the Intels., especially when using thermal paste that is also electrically conductive.]

Study the assembly of the two and you will see that the CPU is NOT in the center of the heatsink due to the fact that the heatsink also covers the part of the CPU socket that has nothing on it. This is to allow the clamping system that they use to apply a uniform force across the surface. The AMD's have four spacers to prevent crushing the small CPU. The Intel heat spreader gives a larger surface.

In fact there have been cases where the HSF was put on backwards on AMD CPU,s and only touched part of the CPU and the CPU overtemped fast. With the Intel's the heat spreader makes this less of a problem.

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I calculate that to be 46 C.

In reply to: How much does thermal paste actually add to cooling the CPU?

Which isn't bad if it is the valid CPU temp at maximum stress on the CPU. Gamers try to do better, usually at the expense of larger heat sinks and much noisier fans [very high RPM]. They often claim 35 C.

BTW the CPU will enjoy long life at 46C [may outlast you LOL]

The best thing that I have found [not in any way a gamer] is a top exhaust fan and a side fan that blows room ambient air directly towards the CPU/HSF

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better yet

In reply to: info on web

I just got a 1.1 terrahertz OPU [optical processor unit] from an R&D team. It fits into my athalon 2.4ghz socket but is about 6"cube. I had to use my 3500btu room airconditioner as a new case side to keep it cool and make a cardboard tunnel [chunnel) to get the hotair exhaust out the window.
this is from in-your-dreams.com
PS. a little humor here!

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OPU fueled car.

In reply to: better yet

I found a hot air exhaust port from an OPU and used it's heat to create fuel for my car.


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