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I just bought a boxed i5. There was no thermal paste included. I understand that it is normally pre-applied to the stock fan in box sets. I didn’t notice that before mounting.

However there was an orangey paste looking thing on the CPU surface which I took to be pre-applied thermal paste. Yet all the research I did tells me it should be grayish and applied to the fan/heatsink…

  • Is the orangey thing on the CPU thermal paste?
  • Is there always thermal paste on boxed stock fan even if I didn’t notice it?
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    The paste can be any color it wants honestly. What exactly did you purchase? Intel has some very high-performance products that do not come with stock fans, some with water cooling, and sell separate stock-fans. Your question isn't as easy as you make it out to be. Have you read the instructions? – Ramhound Jul 26 '15 at 21:43
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    Do you have a picture of your product with the orange paste you mention? – Kinnectus Jul 26 '15 at 21:51
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The orangy thing if it is a square like below, is a thermal heat transfer pad (sil-pad), used in many applications instead of paste. It also can be gray colored and is a silicone thermal heat transfer material.

enter image description here

It is preapplied for easy, goof-proof assembly.

All of the boxed i5, i7 and Xeon processors I've used in the past 4 years use this instead of paste. They probably find that paste application has issues (voids, over/under application, drying out, etc.)

If you look at pictures of the three-strip application used on some of the Intel heat-sinks, it's the same material.

  • Note that this pad does not work nearly as well as properly applied thermal paste, but it works much better than improperly applied thermal paste. Intel uses it because it's much more goof proof. A controlled study found a 7 degree difference between properly-applied pads and properly-applied paste. – David Schwartz Apr 12 '17 at 8:39
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Intel site says thermal solutions for Boxed Intel® Desktop Processors ship with the TIM already applied to the bottom of the fan-heatsink in a 3-bar application.

However for the lack of information in your question I would suggest you to refer to Intel Processor Installation Center

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