Thermal paste is an important part of every system that ensures optimum heat transfer under immense load conditions. There is a myth that thermal paste cools the system temperature itself, which is completely wrong. Instead, a thermal paste acts as a conductor to transfer the heat from the processor and GPU to the heatsinks by filling the micro-voids. However, the paste gets dried out with the passage of time and requires immediate replacement. So, if you face such problems, I will tell you how to remove the thermal paste with alcohol and a rubbing cloth.
Why do you Need to Remove the Thermal Paste?
If you own a PC, console, or laptop, chances are you will have to remove the old thermal paste at some point in your life. For instance, the PC starts heating up quickly if your thermal paste is dry. The dry paste doesn’t conduct heat as efficiently and often acts as an insulator. Similarly, most new GPUs come with a stock thermal paste that doesn’t work as efficiently. So, people remove the stock paste and replace it with a high-quality to ensure optimum system temperature.
There are many scenarios where you need to remove the old thermal paste and make room for a new one. If you have just upgraded the processor with a new shiny one, you still need to remove the old paste. Some of the thermal paste sticks to the heatsink, cooling fan, or processor socket. So, you need to remove it before installing the new upgraded processor. Similarly, all modern consoles have a processor and a graphics chip inside them. Usually, they are covered with a good thermal paste. However, it gets dried up over time and requires replacement. Luckily, all you need is microfiber cloth, some Q-tips, and isopropyl rubbing alcohol.
How to Remove the Thermal Paste from the PC?
Fortunately, replacing the thermal paste from your PC is simple as compared to other devices. It is because you can easily open the PC case, access the processor, and remove the paste. Here’s how:
Removing from Processor:
- Shut down the computer and unplug all the cables from your CPU.
- Open the case of your PC and unplug the cooler (water or air).
- Unmount the cooler from the CPU and open the processor socket from the clip.
- Dip the microfiber cloth in the alcohol and gently start rubbing on the processor in concentric circles.
- Make sure that you don’t rub too hard, or else you might damage a pin.
- Wipe off the paste from under the cooling fan without applying any pressure.
- Now that you have wiped the thick layer of paste, it is time to pay attention to details.
- Dip a Q-tip in the isopropyl alcohol and remove the remaining thermal paste from the processor and the cooler.
- If you followed the steps properly, you would now be looking at a shiny new processor.
Removing from GPU:
Removing the thermal paste from your GPU can be a little tricky. It includes disassembly of the GPU to access the graphics chip. So, only use the process if you are comfortable with tiny screws. Otherwise, it would be best to seek a professional’s help.
- Turn off the computer, unplug the cords from the CPU.
- Open your PC case and remove the GPU connection cable.
- Unmount the GPU from the PCI slot, be very gentle in the process.
- Take a Philips head screwdriver and remove all the screws from the GPU case.
- Open the GPU case from the middle with steady hands, and don’t pull too hard.
- The case only opens at half-length; after that, you need to unplug the heatsink and cooling fan cables from the board.
- Now completely open the case and place the other half on a nearby table.
- Use the same screwdriver to open the protective slot from the graphics chip.
- Take some rubbing alcohol on a microfiber cloth and gently wipe off the thermal paste in concentric circles.
- Dip a Q-tip in alcohol and clean the remaining thermal paste from the chip.
- Remember to replace the thermal paste with a new one before re-assembling the GPU.
How to Remove the Thermal Paste from PlayStation 4?
PlayStation is probably one of the best gaming consoles that Sony has ever produced. It supports hundreds of titles along with the signature PS-only games. However, the device develops some heating issues after some time that requires immediate thermal paste replacement. However, it includes complete disassembly of your console, so it is best to seek professional help if you are not comfortable with small components:
- Push the glossy side of the top with your thumbs to remove the top cover.
- Use a Philips screwdriver to remove the hard drive bracket.
- Flip the console and remove the four screws located as:
- Two screws under the warranty stickers
- Two screws under the plastic screw cover.
- You will need a 7.2 mm Torx security screwdriver for the job.
- Remove the bottom cover and unplug the power supply cable with the help of a tweezer.
- Unscrew the four visible screws to remove the power supply.
- Dismount the PSU and unplug the Wi-Fi antenna with a spudger.
- Disconnect the optical drive, remove its screws, and lift it from the motherboard.
- Unscrew the two Torx screws securing the upper case of your console.
- Lift the remaining portion of the top case and unscrew the twelve screws from the EMI shield.
- Insert the flat end of the spudger to lift the motherboard till the USB ports are out of the housing.
- Lift the motherboard out of the housing and flip it.
- Dip a microfiber cloth in rubbing alcohol and gently wipe the thermal paste off the processor and graphics chip.
- Use a Q-tip dipped in alcohol to wipe the remaining thermal paste.
- Make sure to replace the thermal paste with a new one before re-assembling the unit.
Thermal paste is the most important component to make your system thermally stable. However, the paste becomes dry over time and requires replacement. You need to remove the previous paste before you can put a new paste on the chips. In this article, I have discussed how to remove the thermal paste with alcohol from various systems.