There has never been a solidified way of the best technique when it comes to applying the thermal paste on hardware components, mainly when it comes to GPUs & CPUs. Application methods, such as a central application, a cross design, one solid line, and more varying styles, have been discussed in a meaningful context in PC DIY circles.
"Sausage-style" thermal paste application for GPUs results in five degrees difference above all other techniques.
Igor Wallossek, owner and computer expert on the website Igor's Lab, put all methods to the test to answer the question of the best process overall. The final result resulted in a difference of five degrees celsius compared to the least used methods.
In the study by Wallossek on his website, he discusses how crucial proper thermal paste application is for large graphics cards. He notes that where smaller GPUs run into this problem, much less, more significant, and higher performing graphics cards present surfaces that are not even and are prone to distortion under pressures from the cooling assemblage.
Wccftech and other news outlets initially reported the Alder Lake processors to warp due to the uneven mounting brackets, which have now been fixed with newer bracket designs. Another highlight he mentions before testing is ensuring that the previous thermal paste has been eradicated from the assembly before reapplying the new thermal paste.
Wallossek declares that the large gap between GPU and cooler causes inadequate cooling and that using a "high-viscosity thermal paste" is highly recommended. Products, such as the Arctic MX-2 and Arctic MX-4, are ones he would not recommend but would suggest Alphacools Apex, Subzero, or what he calls "the old Gelid PC Extreme."
Before applying the new thermal paste to the GPU, he suggests increasing the paste's temperature by warming the tube in your hands or pockets and ensuring that the die on the GPU is not cool to the touch. Wallossek also suggests utilizing a hair dryer to keep the viscous paste malleable.
When he discusses the various techniques of applying paste onto the die, Wallossek used a painted GPU with three different application methods:
- the standard factory pasted method
- the central blob application
- a vertical straight line down the middle, also known as the titular sausage method
Methods not tested were:
- the central cross
- applying the paste with a flat object across the die
- several complex patterns
The clear winner of the best application for GPU dies is applying the thermal paste down the middle while including a specific style of screw tension. To make the application correctly, he suggests placing the cooling assembly straight onto the GPU without any sliding or large movements, applying a minor amount of tension to one side of the body with side pairing screws.
Following is the final result published by Igor's Lab:
Then, he suggests adding the additional screws to the other side of the assembly and then tightening each side little by little until the entire cooling body is reattached. Doing this method that he suggests warranted a five-degree difference compared to all other procedures recommended by some manufacturers and DIYers. We know that majority of the users will go with the reference applied TIM but let us know what style you prefer when applying paste yourself.