Recently I've been watching video on installing the Intel i7-6700K to the Asus Z170 motherboard series. This will be the first time I'm building a computer from scratch so I want to get it right.

When I buy the CPU fan, does it already have the thermal compound on it? I'm confused about the thermal stuff. I thought it was a gel you applied somewhere...

Any clarification appreciated.

  • first, understand that a CPU cooler usually consists of a heatsink (made of conductive metal) with a fan mounted to its top. The heatsink evacuates heat from the CPU, and the fan discharges it into the air. thermal paste goes between the CPU and the heatsink, not usually between the heatsink and the fan. As for what it will come with, that depends entirely on the make/model and packaging of the CPU cooler you purchase. you can probably determine if its preapplied by looking to see if some is itemized separately in the retail sku for the item. – Frank Thomas Nov 28 '16 at 4:48
  • Hard question to answer, because it varies... I have bought heatsink fan assemblies with it thermal paste pre-installed, some that come with with a small tube of it, and some that have no trace of it. Different manufacturers handle this differently, there is no standard. I would suggest researching your specific fan assembly. Remember that using a high quality thermal paste you apply is probably better than any pre-applied paste, but it might be easier for a novice if it is pre-applied, low quality paste that is correctly applied is much better than high quality paste applied incorrectly. – acejavelin Nov 28 '16 at 4:48
  • @FrankThomas I see. Thank you for letting me know. – tycrek Nov 28 '16 at 4:50

If you buy a intel i7 6700k with the stock cooler, the stock cooler comes pre-applied with thermal paste on the bottom of the heatsink. So all that you have to do is to install the CPU in the motherboard, then install the cpu cooler on top of the processor. If you are not sure, just look at the bottom of the cooler, there should be some grey paste or grey strips. If there is no pre-applied thermal paste on the bottom of the cooler, then you should buy some TIM (Thermal interface material- a fancier shorter name for thermal paste). To apply the TIM, you first install the cpu in the motherboard, then apply a small drop of TIM on TOP of the cpu. Then install the heatsink on top of the cpu.

  • Very good answer, thank you very much. I also appreciate you describing the steps of applying the TIM. Once again, thanks :) – tycrek Dec 3 '16 at 2:55

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