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See the attached picture. What is the gum like thing? Should I replace it with thermal paste? Thanks!

enter image description here


Update

Thank you guys! I replaced it with new thermal paste and my laptop is not burning anymore! This particular thermal pad is quite thin, maybe about 1 mm, so I just replaced it with thermal paste. See the temperature below! (I don't know why it doesn't detect GPU temperature).enter image description here

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May I asked because that is the most odd heat removal assembly I've seen, what did you pull it out of. –  user88311 Jun 29 '13 at 21:34
    
@user88311: A SONY VAIO VGN-CR390. May I ask what is so odd about it? –  LWZ Jun 29 '13 at 21:36
    
For a laptop cooling system, it looks quite like that in PS3's now, well guess I know where sony got it's inspiration for the design change. –  user88311 Jun 29 '13 at 21:38
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3 Answers 3

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Those are known as Thermally-Conductive Pads, and are used as the equivalent of thermal paste. They're usually made from wax or silicone, and become very soft and pliable when heated up.

They're not as good as thermal paste, but they are less messy and much easier to deal with, so this makes them a good choice when heat transfer efficiency doesn't have to be perfect. For this reason, it's generally recommended that you replace them with thermal paste if you're removing and reapplying the heat sinks and thermal paste will work well at the location (There may be conductivity or spacing issues which make thermal paste a bad choice).

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-1 not the same, and not something that should be swapped with paste. –  Bon Gart Jun 29 '13 at 21:58
    
@BonGart - Except in reality they actually are just like thermal paste and are used because they are cheaper and as Darth put it less messy. You say its not the same, you are down voting people who say it is, yet you don't even post an answer yourself. –  Ramhound Jun 29 '13 at 22:33
    
Darth, read the edit's to my question, he has a point. –  user88311 Jun 29 '13 at 22:38
    
@user88311 Made some tweaks to the answer. –  Darth Android Jun 29 '13 at 23:19
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@Ramhound I didn't post an answer, because it was already stated. I found no need to state it again. Changing where the cooling assembly sits by even a few millimeters can tilt the entire assembly (as I have found in reality with some of the hundreds of laptops I have repaired over the years). Just because it functions like thermal paste, does not mean it is the same. –  Bon Gart Jun 30 '13 at 2:05
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That would be a thermal pad, they are placed there to allow heat to travel more easily out of whatever chip it was placed against.

Probably should add that they are also used when a perfect seal isn't possible, I.E. A space more then 1mm between chip/processor and cooling system.

So if doesn't look like it was compressed much, may want to replace it with another pad instead of compound.

Also they happen to be used when needing to cool silicon chips, as you can't use something like silver based thermal compound on something that doesn't have such things as copper heat spreaders on them already.

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+1 You are the only one to actually acknowledge the fact that the thermal pad is quite a bit thicker than any application of thermal paste will be, and that replacing a thermal pad with paste can actually adversely affect the cooling system. Thermal paste is only meant to be used in situations where the cooling assembly is supposed to sit flush on the processor. Replacing a pad with paste can (and usually will) introduce a gap and increase temperatures. –  Bon Gart Jun 29 '13 at 21:57
    
I work with them all the time so it's the first thing to come to mind, I repair game consoles in spare time and you find them all over older PS3's/360's, and if you look at the hardware you can tell why. Going to update again just remembered something. –  user88311 Jun 29 '13 at 21:59
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Thermal pads allow for movement, something extremely important in mobile devices, and also in the expansion and contraction that pictured plumber's dream will have due to the copper piping. –  Fiasco Labs Jun 29 '13 at 22:11
    
It may be worth noting that thermal pads come in varying dimensions including depth. Very useful on graphics card heatsinks where the board can flex during fit/removal. –  Tog Jul 17 '13 at 10:55
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It is a thermal pad / thermal paste.

It does exactly what something like Arctic Silver 5 does, but its less effective.

It is also easier for a machine or layperson to apply, so that why factories use it. Its fool proof, cheap, and does what it needs to.

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So it's safe/good to replace it with thermal paste? –  LWZ Jun 29 '13 at 21:37
    
@LWZ Certainly. Just use the right amount, not too much and not too little and its not only safe, it will be better –  AthomSfere Jun 29 '13 at 21:40
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-1 not the same, and not something that should be swapped for paste –  Bon Gart Jun 29 '13 at 21:58
    
@LWZ - Not at all, Thermal paste is for use on very flat surfaces with no movement between them and very thinly. Thermal pad installations expect there to be space, movement and uneven surfaces. The engineers know what they're doing when they use these. –  Fiasco Labs Jun 29 '13 at 22:08
    
@BonGart, Thank you, but I've already replaced it after I read the answers. Fortunately it seems to work fine so far. –  LWZ Jun 29 '13 at 22:27
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