Thermal Paste on CPU Pins: What to do!

When it comes to discussions about PC components, thermal paste is often overlooked, but its importance cannot be understated; it is critical to the overall performance of your rig. Unfortunately, this lack of information often leads to people putting thermal paste on CPU pins, which is not recommended.

You can easily remove the thermal paste on CPU pins by using a toothpick to take out the paste gently. Do not make the mistake of soaking the CPU in alcohol to get the thermal paste out; use a toothbrush and dip it in alcohol to scrub out the thermal paste. You just need to do it on the affected area with thermal paste and not the entire component.  

If you have used a non-conductive thermal paste on CPU pins, you can easily get it out. This guide will walk you through the process of removing the thermal paste from CPU pins. 

Thermal Paste on CPU Pins: How to Remove

Thermal paste is instrumental to your CPU’s performance. When the thermal paste dries out, you may experience a dramatic decrease in speed and performance when running software. This means that you need to reapply the thermal paste. However, to do so, you will first have to remove the dried-out thermal paste on your PC. 

In an attempt to reapply the thermal paste, many also make mistakes like applying it directly onto the CPU pins instead of the CPU heat spreader. Check out the steps below to know how you can remove the thermal paste on CPU pins. 

Supplies Needed 

Make sure you have all the necessary supplies on hand to remove thermal paste on CPU pins. Below are the items that you will need.  

  • Isopropyl alcohol with at least 70% concentration. Getting 99% concentrated alcohol will be ideal as it evaporates faster. Alternatively, you can also get a special thermal paste cleaner from an online or offline marketplace. 
  • Toothbrush and dry microfiber cloth. 

Note: Please ensure that you clean your desk or workspace before beginning the process of thermal paste removal. 

How To Remove Thermal Paste From CPU Pins

In general, most thermal pastes cannot conduct current (except for liquid thermal compounds). In other words, you just need to remove enough to enable the socket pins to connect properly. 

If the CPU pins still have a small amount of paste, it won’t be a problem. Check out the steps below to remove thermal paste from the CPU pins.

Using 70% Isopropyl alcohol

As a cleaning tool, a soft toothbrush will be required. To clean using isopropyl alcohol, you’ll need a concentration of 70% or greater. You’ll need a microfibre cloth to keep the brush dry between scrubs. Once you have all of it ready, proceed with the steps below.

  1. Dip the toothbrush into a bowl of isopropyl alcohol and allow it to soak for a few minutes. 
  2. Gently start scrubbing the brush on the affected area to remove the thermal paste off the CPU pins. The pins in an AMD Ryzen CPU may flex if you apply too much pressure. Because Intel CPUs have a flat surface, this is simpler. As we previously stated, you don’t need to eliminate the paste from the CPU to get it to function. Ensure that the pins and socket are in proper contact by removing just enough paste. 
  3. Wipe the thermal paste off the toothbrush after every single scrub.  If you don’t clean it in between, it will get into the pins again. 
  4. Remove any extra alcohol. Using a q-tip to soak up the remaining alcohol or leaving the CPU out in the open air can help the remaining alcohol dissipate. Remember, don’t put yourself under any unnecessary stress and be patient. 
  5. Run a test to ensure that the CPU is working. Then, apply a new thermal paste to the motherboard’s CPU socket and reboot the CPU.

If the CPU boots effortlessly, then the cleaning did the trick. If not, then try the same process again to clean thermal paste on CPU pins. 

Using Thermal Paste Cleaners

Thermal paste cleaners are available for purchase. Get your hands on one! As a cleaning aid, you’ll need a pair of Q-tips at your disposal. If necessary, you can use a magnifying lens. 

  1. To clean the CPU, dab a bit of thermal paste cleaner on the affected areas. Don’t go overboard with the amount of product you’re using. It’s preferable to start with a modest quantity and then add more as needed rather than slathering at once. 
  2. Cleaners for thermal paste require time to bond with the paste. Leave it for at least 5 minutes.  
  3. Gently brush the CPU pins with the q-tip. Make sure you don’t go too forceful while cleaning an AMD Ryzen CPU since this might result in major damage. There are no pins on the top of Intel’s CPUs; therefore, it is a flat surface. 
  4. Don’t rush things. You just need to scrape an adequate amount of paste to ensure good contact between the two surfaces. 
  5. Q-tips should be swapped out. The Q-tip is prone to clogging up with thermal paste chunks. So, get a new one instead. 
  6. Remove any surplus liquid. When you’ve used a few wipes, you can begin drying off the remaining liquid. Use a new q-tip to remove any remaining liquid from the surface. 
  7. Determine if the CPU is functional. A new thermal paste should be placed on the motherboard socket after the CPU has been thoroughly cleaned and dried (ample amount applied). Check to check whether your PC starts up after you put on your CPU cooling. 

If your PC turns on easily, then your cleaning effort was successful. 

If it does not boot, then re-clean it to see if it helps. The CPU pins may be unable to establish adequate contact because of a small amount of paste that has gotten trapped someplace.

Thermal Paste on CPU Pins: What Not to Do

The entire process of removing thermal paste on CPU pins could get a bit exhausting, and it may lead to some hasty actions that could damage the component. Here are some “don’ts” that you must keep handy so that you don’t cause damage to your CPU. 

Don’t Rush The Process 

Removing thermal paste from CPU pins is not super complex. However, it will take a while. There’s no need to rush the process, whether you’re removing thermal paste from your CPU or the socket. In the long run, you’ll spare yourself the embarrassment and expense of having to replace the entire motherboard or CPU because of a broken pin.

Steer Clear of Bending CPU Pin

Because CPU pins are so prone to bending, be extremely cautious while handling them. You need to be extra careful when trying to push thermal paste towards the socket. Resoldering pins onto the CPU or motherboard isn’t impossible, but it is extremely tough. In the process, if you end up bending a pin, you must exercise utmost attention while fixing a bent pin.

Don’t Remove Large Chunks At One Time

Keep the amount of paste you remove to a limited extent. A pin will break in two if you attempt to remove or push out huge portions. The cleaning of LGA CPUs is not difficult at all. It’s easy to clean the bottom of the CPU with a towel and isopropyl alcohol because the CPU is flat. The socket is considerably more challenging to clean. The tiniest toothpick you can get your hands on is the best tool for this task.

Don’t Use Excessive Force

Removing thermal paste from CPU pins ultimately takes a lot of time and effort. Destroying the CPU is much more disastrous than the motherboard as it is costlier. Be wary of rushing through the process and maintain a gentle approach to cleaning so that you don’t end up breaking any component with brute force. 

How to Reapply Thermal Paste

Reapplying the thermal paste is the next step. You must read the directions for your thermal paste before using it, as some may demand a different method. In addition, you should know how to reinstall the CPU cooler. 

Follow the steps below to reapply thermal paste:

  1. Put on a new layer of thermal paste. 
  2. You need to apply thermal paste to the CPU’s heatsink in a thin, even layer. 
  3. Put the CPU’s heatsink back on it with caution. Lay it as flat as possible to ensure that the paste spreads uniformly throughout the surface. 
  4. Place the CPU cooler. Keep it in place, and don’t let go of it. 

Tips on reapplying thermal paste 

You’ll have to start from scratch if the cooler falls or slides. For this reason, it is necessary to apply thermal paste to seal the heatsink to prevent air pockets from forming, which defeats its function. 

To get proper CPU coverage, it’s critical to use the correct amount of paste. If you apply too much paste, it may end up on the motherboard.

Things to Keep in Mind When Buying Thermal Paste

Choosing a suitable thermal paste might be difficult because there are so many options out there. Keep in mind the following considerations before making a purchase.

Viscosity

A high-viscosity thermal compound is easier to apply and sticks better. So make sure that the thermal paste you buy has high viscosity. 

Conductivity Rating

Conductivity rating reflects the paste’s capability to transfer heat effectively. A higher rating is considered better.

Volume 

If you’re solely using the thermal paste for the CPU, you would need a minimal quantity. Thermal paste that has been unsealed can no longer be used and must be thrown away, which is why you should get a small quantity that can be used one time.

Type

Both conductive and non-conductive thermal pastes are available on the market. But it is better to stick to non-conductive materials if you’re a beginner. If conductive metallic thermal pastes fall on the motherboard, they can damage your system. So, only get the conductive thermal paste if you are already a pro at the task. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Now that we have walked you through different processes of removing and reapplying thermal paste on CPU pins, it is time to handle some other related questions. 

Is it bad if thermal paste gets on CPU pins?

The pins and socket connection will be hampered if thermal paste falls on them. But the thermal paste is not hazardous to the CPU component. If thermal paste gets on the CPU, you must remove it to get the CPU working again.

What should I do if I get thermal paste on my CPU pins?

If you have dropped a non-conductive thermal paste on CPU pins, you just need to grab some Q-tips and isopropyl alcohol. Dab the Q-tip in isopropyl alcohol and start by cleaning the small chunks at a time. You can scrape off the micro chunks with a toothpick. After cleaning, make sure you leave the CPU to dry. 

How do you remove thermal paste from CPU pins Intel??

The pins are usually located on a motherboard in Intel CPUs, depending on the model. You just need some Q-tips and Isopropyl alcohol to wipe the paste from the Intel CPU

Conclusion

Removing thermal paste on CPU pins might be a complex undertaking for people who are just not technology savvy. However, following instructions and patience can help anyone wipe excess thermal paste from their CPU and motherboard. We hope this guide helps you in scraping off thermal paste on CPU pins. Let us know in the comments!

About Melissa

Hey! I'm Mel, I write the occasional article for Spacehop, amongst other things. I love meeting new people and chatting, so if you have any questions don't hesitate to ask.

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