I installed my new i7 920 CPU and cooler that came with it. It didn't come with any thermal paste, so I guess it is not required?

I really hate these snap-in 'screws', they pop out easy!

  • 1
    Future intel "stock" heatsink advice: They will come with a pre-applied thermal pad on the bottom, but it's really not the greatest. Look into Arctic Silver 5 or Artic Cooling's MX-2. They are less than $8-9 shipped and are well worth it. Secondly, install the CPU and cooler BEFORE you install the motherboard, it's a lot easier to ensure a good solid lock with the intel "push-pins".
    – Keck
    Aug 12 '09 at 16:02

Sounds wierd, the i7 should be shipped with heat sinks having thermal compound pre-applied to the base. Are you sure there isn't any on the bottom of the heat sink? Or a thermal pad installed?

  • I didn't look, I just popped in the cooler after installing the cpu. ok so it is there by default.
    – user3183
    Aug 9 '09 at 23:09
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    I cannot recall if there is a sticker of some sort covering the pre-applied compound... if so, you may need to remove the cooler so you can take the covering off and re-apply... but if there wasn't removing the cooler now will just make things worse.
    – jerryjvl
    Aug 9 '09 at 23:43
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    Generally there is no sticker on the default Intel heatsinks of today, just a thermal compound and sometimes a huge plastic cover that's basically part of the packaging (that you cannot by mistake install with on ;) Aug 10 '09 at 8:43

Thermal paste is definitely needed, they're just being cheap if they don't put any on. Get some Artic Silver, from the tests I've seen it's the best.

Running a CPU that high end without it will result in a dead CPU very fast.

  • 3
    Can't go wrong with Artic Silver
    – pavsaund
    Aug 9 '09 at 21:40
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    Make sure that there is NOT a thermal pad. "Thermal paste is definitely needed" is bad advice, if a thermal pad was also in place (which it would be if it was a retail box).
    – TM.
    Aug 10 '09 at 13:22
  • True, but are there negative effects if both are present?
    – Boon
    Nov 1 '10 at 6:37
  • 4
    @Boon yes there are definitely negative effects if both are present. Heat transfer goes way down.
    – TM.
    Jan 16 '12 at 22:55

Most vendor-supplied heatsinks come with pads on the heatsink which do the job of thermal transfer compound. There would have been a cover on the bottom of the heatsink protecting it until you installed it.


Make sure there is no thermal pad before you put on thermal paste. Intel retail box CPUs will have a thermal pad on the bottom of the heatsink, and if that is the case, you do NOT want to also apply thermal paste.

If you feel that the thermal pad is not good enough, and you want to use some aftermarket paste, be sure that you remove the pad first, and clean the base of the heatsink well before installing the paste.


I have an i7 920 and came across this problem. The thermal pads on the bottom of the stock cooler are fine without adding any extra paste. If you want to apply some third-party paste though, make sure you remove the pads first with a little rubbing alcohol on a cloth.

"The reality is that if it shipped without the thermal compound, they might blame a burn out on user error"

I don't think that the above advice is anywhere near reality on a newly-purchased chip. But if the chip didn't work because you've clogged up your socket with thermal grease, that's another story!


I am in full agreement with Dentrasi. You definitely need to go get some thermal transfer compound. The money you spend on the heat transfer compound is cheap insurance to keep your processor from burning out. The thermal compound is essential in bridging the small gap between the processor and the heat sink.

  • but how can they ship it without it? And the instructions doesn't mention anything so it won't void the warranty w/o thermal will it?
    – user3183
    Aug 9 '09 at 22:21
  • The reality is that if it shipped without the thermal compound, they might blame a burn out on user error. It all depends on how solidly a company wants to support their own product. Most companies will make something like this right but you'd have to scream some.
    – Axxmasterr
    Aug 10 '09 at 0:33

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