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I heard a rumor that when you build a new PC, you are supposed to "burn" it in for about 24 hours so the thermal paste will correctly bond between the heatsink and the CPU. Assuming this is really necessary, does it make any difference if the CPU is orientated horizontally or vertically during the burn in process?

It would seem to me that keeping my CPU horizontal during the burn-in would allow for the most even distribution of the thermal grease bond. On the other hand, once I am done with the burn in, my CPU will be orientated vertically for all future use.

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Yes, you're supposed to burn it in, but that's not why. – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Jul 5 '13 at 2:14
The only thermal past that bonds is two part epoxy permanent heat sink compound. Since you're not using that, you've been sold a bridge. Works great for permanently attaching high power LED assemblies to aluminum structures if you'd like to do that. – Fiasco Labs Jul 5 '13 at 4:46
up vote 3 down vote accepted

The is no technical need to burn in a new computer or new hardware.
Nor will the thermal paste bond with the CPU or the heat sink. The cooling is done by passing heat between the CPU metal and the polished heat sinks metal and the heat transfer of this is significantly higher than if you use thermal paste to conduct the heat. What thermal paste is used for is to fill the very small unequal parts in the metal (even after polishing), allowing more heat to be conducted. This is why you use a grain sides dot of paste and why cooling degrades of you use to much.

However it does make sense to test your new configuration.
See if it still works when it heats up. Try it for a few hours (not necessary all continuous hours). This is not a burn in. Nothing actually changes. Your computer will not behave if differently if you do or do not burn in.

If you meet the people again who told you to burn in a computer please point them to me. I got some mithril audio cables to sell them. Manufactured by elves during a full moon, after sacrificing a rooster below an old oak. It will make for a much more fuller and rounder audio experience with a touch of herbs and a hint of brambles.

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