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I'm building a relatively high-end PC without any overclocking. I have a stock CPU cooler with my Intel Xeon E3-1230V. I understand the stock CPU cooler comes with thermal paste pre-applied (three gray strips). My question is, do I need to buy and apply additional thermal paste directly onto the CPU chip itself? It seems like the thermal paste from the heatsink will naturally smear onto the CPU, but maybe the heatsink doesn't actually touch the CPU?

Thanks.

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On the stock cooler, it probably doesn't matter much (as @AthomSfere mentions, +1). But you will experience better temps with a better paste like Arctic Silver 5. That being said, my guess is you will swap out coolers eventually since the stock ones are generally louder and less efficient, at that point - get nicer paste. Just keep an eye on your temps relative to your thermal limit. –  nerdwaller Jun 24 '13 at 3:35
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Great, so maybe I can get Arctic Silver 5 paste with a Cooler Master Hyper something cooler? –  Jason Jun 24 '13 at 4:10
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up vote 2 down vote accepted

The thermal pads that comes on the stock heatsink and fan is all you need. If you ever remove the heatsink, you will need to remove this paste and reapply a different paste or pad.

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