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I built my PC using the heatsink that came in the retail packaging with the CPU (an Intel Core 2 Quad), which had pre-applied thermal compound. I finally got fed up with the noise that thing makes so I'm about to replace the HSF assembly with a specialist cooler.

The question is: Is removing the pre-applied thermal compound any different from removing the thermal paste that you apply yourself? i.e. will it just wipe off or will I need some kind of chemical to remove it?

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you might gain I don't know.. 2 or 3 degrees by using something stron like 99% IPA. Instead of just wiping it off. But in terms of how it works, it makes sense to use the IPA.. cos apparently the purpose of the paste is (only and importantly) to fill microscopic holes. –  barlop May 19 '11 at 3:08

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It should wipe off like any other thermal compound. I would recommend wiping it clean (until it shines) with isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol). Just make sure both the CPU and heatsink are very clean before reapplying new thermal compound (I recommend Arctic 5) and installing the new heatsink.

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