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Reseating the processor

Posted on 2004-08-10
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Very short but important question for all you experts!  I work as a PC tech for a computer company and we have servers come in with Supermicro Boards and Dual Xeon Processors.  Sometimes because the heatsink is soo heavy and big on these machines the processor needs to be reseated after shipment.  Do I need to reapply a new thermal pad or paste?  There is still a thin layer already on the heatsink?  I really need some advice asap!  Thank you.

Doug
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Question by:dmeyers83
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by:Callandor
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If it's new, the paste would still be good, but the problem is you have no control over uniformity.  The purpose of the paste is to improve conductivity by replacing air gaps, so unless you can guarantee the same amount is spread on each unit, I think the safer route is to clean it off and apply a small amount again, so that you know it was done right.  You don't want them coming back, right?
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by:pjedmond
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I suspect that you are probably OK without having to reapply a new thermal pad or paste as the pressure holding the heatsink against the processor is fairly significant. In practice I always put a tiny dab of 'arctic silver' just to guarantee that there is a 'as near perfect' as possible thermal connection.

Most modern motherboards now have a 'thermal cutout' which protects the CPU from frying, so you aren't really risking anything by not doing it, other than the time to disassemble and faultfing. If there are 'spurious restarts', and I know that the processor has been reseated, then this is an area that I may be tempted to look.

HTH:)
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by:dmeyers83
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Thanks, I just clean the heatsink it off with water on and a paper towel, what if i little got in the processors?
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by:Blue_Rishi
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Yes, you should always reapply therm paste after reseating the processor. The reason for this is that therm paste gets hard after a while (when cold), when your reseat the proc/heatsink without reapplying new therm paste you run the risk of enclosing air (which conduct heat very very poorly) which can result in overheating/burning of the proc.
The stuff on the heatsink has about as much thermal resistance as a piece of wood (on cheaper heatsinks, anyway). The stuff is only on it to make sure the cpu doesn't overheat when you forget to use therm paste. (yeah, sure they'll tell a different story, but the proc runs 10 degrees centigrade hotter when leaving the stuff on).  The best therm paste is arctic silver (which uses silver-based solution for mimimal resistance, be carefull though as it's conductive). look at a review of thermal paste here: http://www.techangel.co.uk/reviews/thermalpaste/

Hope this anwers your question,

Blue Rishi

PS don't forget to remove the patch/therm paste before applying new one...(make sure you don't scratch the heatsink too)

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by:Callandor
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When cleaning or applying, be careful to not get any on the pins (or for AMDs, on the "bridges").  Arctic silver is the good stuff, and while they say it does not conduct electricty, it has capacitance, so use it sparingly.
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by:Blue_Rishi
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Well, just seems like I typed too slowly (anwsers was blank when I read it...)

Please, don't use water...better to use cleaning alcohol (if the paste solves in alc) Also, I use a little heat myself...letting the computer run for a while, wait till it cools just above room temp and the stuff will come right off. Since this is not an option in your case; consider using a hairdryer (very shortly, as you don't want the proc to overheat...).

B_R
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Garbs earned 100 total points
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Another vote for Arctic Silver here, and yes, you should absolutely clean off any old thermal material and apply new material. Once the seal has been broken, it's time to re-create a new seal with fresh thermal material.

Instead of water and a paper towel, my suggestion would be to use a small amount of isopropyl alcohol on a paper towel which, for me, is very safe and effective in removing old thermal paste.

For old thermal material such as adhesives, I like to use some general nail polish remover (it smells, but works very well) to remove the sticky adhesive thermal material. And then once that's off, some isopropyl alcohol to re-treat and re-clean the surface of the CPU.

Some people, myseld included, also like to use a very small amount of dishwashing detergent (Palmolive, etc) and some water on a paper towel to also clean the surface of the CPU.

As long as you're not getting the "pins" area of the CPU wet with any of these solvents or materials, you'll be fine. The top of the CPU, where the core is, is fine to use this stuff on.

The point here is to completely clean off any old thermal material and apply a fresh layer on to a CLEAN surface. That way the air gaps are removed once again supplying the heatsink and CPU with direct connectivity between one another.

Please also note: only a small amount of thermal material is needed when re-applying! Arcticsilver.com has excellent instructions pertaining to the re-installation of their thermal material. They suggest just a "rice grain" sized drop on your CPU. I like to then put my finger into a plastic sandwich baggy and then I spread the rice-grain sized drop around the top of the CPU for equal and even distribution.

Good luck.

Garbs
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by:Wakeup
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Water is generally a bad way to clean heatsinks....especially if you plan to put it back on right after you clean it.  You definitely want to make sure it is DRY.  any tiny bit of moisture can be bad for your CPU, Motherboard or computer.  I would suggest at minimum Rubbing alcohol, or at best using Contact Cleaner.  They both will evaporate quickly, but will allow you to clean off the heatsink properly.  The contact cleaner is non conductive so that stuff works really well.
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by:Dynamic1
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I agree with wakeup VERY BAD idea water use denatured alcohol. ALSO A/S or artic Silver 5 is not reccomended for XEONS. Thing is when those heatinks rip off they will pull the CPU along with it with A/S 5, possibly pulling the CPU pins with it. It is very thick I would go with A/S 3 much thinner and there is no warning on there site about using it with Xeons.
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by:Dynamic1
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Actually they do say it is ok for socket Xeons now but still if the Heatsinks are coming off with A/S they will rip the CPU with them even on p4s they sometimes rip out of socket even when being carefull taking off.
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by:Garbs
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I'm not talking about a gallon of water and running the CPU under water.

Let me clarify: wetting the corner of a paper towel with water (ring it out some) and then adding a teeny drop of dishwashing detergent to the paper towel (rub it with your fingers to create a little suds) and then applying that gently to the top of the CPU is fine.

Then get a new paper towel, again wet the corner, ring it out, and wipe the top clean. Also fine.

Follow that up with isopropyl alcohol, let it dry, and now you're ready for new thermal material.

Good luck.

Garbs
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by:JaySully
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Personal computers, I have not reapplied Thermal Paste.
Other peoples CPU's I have always replaced the Thermal Paste.

I mean, if it is someone else's you do not want to be resposible to the "What If's"
If it's yours, you do it again, the right way, lol. Hasn't happened yet, but who knows. I am always upgrading. And with a new Processor, I always replace the thermal paste!
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by:IanTh
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Why dont you tell your supplier to take the cpu out as there is always the danger on cpu damage and then you can install it when you get the server. Thats what all the suppliers of heavy heatsinks such zalman flower cooler say that this step should be taken when you move a pc with a heavy heatsink as its far too heavy for the socket in transit
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by:dmeyers83
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There the generic heatsinks that come with the motherboard.  I doubt I can get them to change but its worth a shot thank you all!
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