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What chemical should I use for removing thermal paste?

I've got an AMD-K6 CPU which has a duff fan, the thermal paste has gone solid and won't come off with alcohol or akasa heatsink cleaner (smells of citrus, like label remover). I'm assuming the residue contains copper as it polishes up nice and shiny but turns green when exposed to liquid. I've experimented, using a blade and crocus paper on the underside of the heatsink which worked quite well but I don't want to remove the CPU or subject it to the same rough handling (no spares).

Does anyone have a handy tip for removing this stuff from my CPU in-situ?

I'm surprised this has been closed as an "exact" duplicate as it refers to a metal residue that has been left behind after normal cleaning using TIM remover.

marked as duplicate by Shinrai, Sathyajith Bhat Apr 18 '11 at 18:46

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • ...and I stand by my recommendation in that thread for acetone, ESPECIALLY in this case. You do probably want to run it a bit first so it's warmer and for goodness sake BE CAREFUL WITH THE STUFF. – Shinrai Apr 18 '11 at 14:31
  • This post is not a duplicate - it doesn't ask for chemicals nor is the answer only about chemicals. It is more general in scope. – harrymc Apr 19 '11 at 9:27
  • I don't have accesss to pure acetone, so I used nail polish remover, smells like acetone but had no effect – Tog Apr 19 '11 at 18:21

Heating the paste by turning the processor on may soften it enough to be manipulated (carefully).

If not, see the procedure described here :
How to Remove the TIM from a Stock AMD Heatsink and CPU.

Specialized products are also a possibility, such as ArctiClean Thermal Compound Cleaner
(have never used it and cannot vouch for it).
Ask at your local computer store, or search "thermal compound cleaner" on your favorite Internet shop.

  • 2
    I'm not willing to risk the CPU running without a heatsink, it's circa 1997, IIRC AMD CPUs didn't have O/Heat protection then and tended to go pop. I'll look for a different type of TIM remover to the Akasa one which didn't work. – Tog Apr 18 '11 at 11:45
  • You don't need to strongly heat the paste in order to soften it, turning on for a short-time may be enough. But of course you know best what is the status of this computer. – harrymc Apr 18 '11 at 11:58
  • 2
    A hair dryer should be ok, they're designed not to scorch your skin. That's about the same temperature you're aiming for. – MSalters Apr 18 '11 at 12:44
  • I have a heatshrink gun, not much call for a hair dryer (see avatar). I'll set it to low and have a go. Back tomorrow. – Tog Apr 18 '11 at 14:55
  • 1
    Try the other procedures, or get help from a repair-shop. – harrymc Apr 19 '11 at 19:13

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