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All right, my i7-920 is running at stock, however it is idling at 70-80c and under load 90-95. I'm running the stock heat sink on top of it, there is no dust, it's all very clean and airflow in the case is good running at an ambient/system temperature of 29c - I live along the coast.

However, my the thermal paste on it is old, there is basically nothing left, and my heat sink is touching the CPU well enough since it's rather hot so it's definitely transferring the heat correctly but can be greatly increased with thermal paste. If I apply a paste, will it lower the temperatures significantly? I'm at a loss here, everything seems to be perfect besides the thermal paste which I am going to buy soon hopefully tomorrow or by the latest the day after. Note that I have no performance hits due to these temperatures. Just wondering if I'm overlooking anything here. Will a good thermal paste reduce my temperature significantly?

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closed as not constructive by Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007, Diogo, Sirex, Randolph West, DragonLord Sep 24 '12 at 5:21

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" If I apply a paste, will it lower the temperatures significantly?" are you kidding? Yes, the entire purpose of paste is to transfer heat to the heatsink, use arctic silver AS5 paste, or IC Diamond –  Moab Sep 6 '12 at 0:40
    
"Will a good thermal paste reduce my temperature significantly?" I'll put it bluntly: if you don't apply thermal paste, your processor will overheat and slowly melt, even with thermal throttling. –  Thomas Sep 6 '12 at 2:04

1 Answer 1

If you separated the CPU from the heatsink, you must clean off the old thermal paste and replace it with new thermal paste. Old thermal paste can conduct heat about as well as new thermal paste, however it cannot fill cracks anymore. When you separated the CPU and heat sink and then put them back together, you created tons of air gaps that the thermal paste is now too dry to fill.

In an emergency, you can use a very tiny bit of alcohol (or even a fraction of a drop of water if you don't have alcohol) to make the thermal paste flow again. That's better than nothing. But you really want to clean off all the old thermal paste and apply fresh thermal paste.

Your CPU is performance limited by temperature. So better cooling will mean better performance.

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