In order for the video card and central processor of the computer to work properly, it is necessary to prevent them from overheating. Thermal paste or thermal pad can help with this. What is the difference between them and which is better to use depending on the situation?
Many users, when cleaning and updating thermal paste on their own, mostly for laptops, are faced with this issue. We disassembled the laptop, thermal paste was applied to one chip, and a thermal pad was applied to the other. Yes, it seems like it makes no difference if I apply thermal paste everywhere. But that would be a mistake.
Thermal pastes and thermal pads. Photo by the author of the channel Thermal pastes and thermal pads. Photo by the channel author
Pros and features of thermal paste
Thermal paste is a thick mixture of a whole complex of substances that can improve the thermal exchange between the surface of the radiator and the chip body. The paste has a viscous constitution, which is ensured by components of various natures. The standard set of components are elements made of synthetics, minerals and metal.
Using thermal paste solves problems such as:
— elimination of microcavities in the gap between the cooling system element and the chip, where air can subsequently accumulate;
— improved heat transfer and cooling system efficiency.
One of the disadvantages of thermal paste is that it contains liquids that evaporate after a while. The paste becomes a powder, its properties are lost and air gaps appear. All this leads to high performance of components and inefficient operation of the cooling system. The timing of such evaporation varies and depends on the operating mode of the computer and the quality of the thermal paste. Because of this, it is necessary to change the thermal paste from time to time. You need to look at programs that show the operating temperatures of your computer. It happens that after a year it is necessary to change, and sometimes nothing can be changed for 10 years.
Thermal paste GD900, photo by the author of the channel Thermal paste GD900, photo by the author of the channel
Pros and features of thermal pads
You can also use thermal pads for the same purposes. A thermal pad is a sheet (or several separate plates) containing a large proportion of graphite and ceramic filler that improves thermal conductivity.
Different models of thermal pads differ in thickness, layers and their number, adhesive surface, filler, etc. They are more convenient to use, but they also have expiration dates and require replacement.
What and where is better to use
In fact, the decisive selection parameter is the thickness of the gap. If the gap thickness is a maximum of 0.3 millimeters, the use of a thermal pad may damage the parts due to physical pressure. And then it’s worth using thermal paste. Thermal paste is almost always used on central processors.
If the thickness of the gap is 0.5 millimeters or more, the thermal paste, being a liquid, will not be able to fill the entire gap, which will also cause overheating. In this case, thermal pads will be much more effective, but they also need to be selected according to thickness.
Thermal pad, convenient to cut to required size. Photo by the author of the channel Thermal pad, convenient to cut to the required size. Photo by the channel author
The easiest way for an ordinary user who decides to mechanically clean the cooling system, update thermal paste and thermal pads in his computer is to leave everything as is. I mean, we disassembled the laptop, where there was thermal paste, there should be thermal paste, where there was a thermal pad — the same. The same goes for video cards and other components.
There is also no need to apply thermal paste to the thermal pad. This will not give any effect; on the contrary, it may worsen the expected result. But such cases do happen, I bought laptops secondhand, and thermal paste was applied to the gasket, and it somehow worked properly. In the video, I analyzed just such an example, if you are interested, you can watch it.
Advice. If you bought a used laptop, it gets very hot and some “master” has already worked there before you, mixing everything up. If you smeared paste or stuck thermal pads everywhere, then open your browser and find a video with an analysis of your laptop model. Watch a few videos to understand what to apply and where. Why several? Since there are no guarantees that the master in the video is doing everything correctly, and if two people do this, then most likely this is the right option.
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