Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Some time ago, I removed the thermal pad from my CPU and applied some thermal paste instead. I also removed dust from the fan. It's a Dell Studio 1735 Laptop. The laptop got MUCH quieter and cooler.

Three months later, it's loud and hot again.

There is no dust. I just removed the cooler, and all of the thermal paste still sits there. Maybe while travelling, the CPU cooler wiggled around a microscopic amount, thereby reducing the effectiveness?

How do I apply the thermal paste so that the cooling efficiency persists? Could it be that a thermal pad would work better in the case of a laptop, as it is rigid and won't move under mechanical stress?

Update: Re-applied thermal paste today, temperatures dropped from about 50°C to 40°C in Idle. Let's see how long that lasts.

share|improve this question
What brand and type of paste did you use? – Moab Aug 26 '12 at 14:40
Arctic Silver 5. And carefully cleaned it with ArctiClean and coffee filters beforehand. – LTR Aug 26 '12 at 20:06
AS5 is very good paste, I have never run into this problem on any notebook I have replaced thermal pads with AS5, a strange problem. – Moab Aug 26 '12 at 20:20

The link below has a detailed explanation along with specs.

share|improve this answer
Thank you, excellent instructions. However, I followed similar guidelines when applying the thermal paste and this doesn't answer the question. – LTR Aug 24 '12 at 17:47

I'm not sure if this applies to laptops, and your situation in particular, but typically when we see thermal pads on motherboards, they're there to ensure proper contact, usually with a slight "interference" fit. When switching to grease, you may not have enough height to compensate for the loss of the pad.

Was the pad truly a pad, or just "pre-applied" grease? If the former, you may need to modify some part of the heat sink or find a pad of similar thickness to the original.

share|improve this answer
Yes, it was a pad. There was a small height difference, but I could work around that by bending the heatpipe that leads to the CPU a tiny amount. Remember that it did cool the CPU perfectly for 3 months. So the height difference didn't matter that much, and the question remains why the cooling suddenly got worse. – LTR Aug 24 '12 at 17:45
It got worse because it dried out and cracked. You can't use normal thermal compound to fill a gap precisely because it will dry out and crack. – David Schwartz Mar 14 at 15:44

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.