Thermal grease?

Okay, I’m now putting together my second ever system from mobo up. Last time I got a cpu and heatsink package and it came with thermal grease that I spooged on the top of the cpu before putting the heatsink on.

This time I got an OEM cpu and a separate heatsink/fan. There’s no thermal grease to be found. Do I need it? Should I go buy some? It seems stupid to pay $5 for a tube when I need ~1 gram spread thinly over my cpu.

What’s the deal, oh system builders?

You need it. There needs to be some sort of compound at the interface between your CPU and your heatsink to ensure proper heat transfer.

The Heatsink/Fan combo you bought probably has a thermal transfer pad on the bottom of the heatsink. You only need the grease if the bottom of the heatsink (the part that touches the cpu) is bare metal.

Just searching on thermal grease brings up this:

AMD says using it voids your warranty? WTF?

AMD probably says that looking at your CPU voids the warranty, just to be sure.

Thermal grease or or a thermal pad is necessary, but not both. And if you use thermal grease use only a small drop, it’s supposed to fill in the microscopic cracks in the surface of CPU and heatsink, not to cover the entire surface!

All the cool kids use Arctic Silver.

I feel safer using the grease than the pad, though. For getting into nooks and crannies, it seems like grease would be ther best choice. Arctic Silver seems to work well enough.

Dean, if you’re spending the dough to put a decent system together, don’t balk at another $5 for good cooling. Sure, you just need a little grease, and The Man makes you buy more than you need, but it’s not that eggregious a gouge.
I built a Thoroughbred XP 2600+ system a couple months ago, and used AMD’s retail chip + heatsink/fan combo. As Kraaze suspected, the AMD heatsink has a factory-installed thermal interface pad on the bottom, in just the right spot and just the right size to fit over the raised die. I assume AMD tries to take greasing the die out of the hands of overclockers/system builders as much as possible, because there are people out there who tend to cover THE WHOLE CHIP with the stuff like it’s mayonnaise or something and then wonder why their system won’t boot.
I know some guys who advocate scraping the thermal pad off the AMD sinks and using grease instead because the contact is a little better - maybe they’re right. Me, I used both (just a touch of grease). Everything’s working great, and the chip temp never gets above 50 degrees C.

Well I went to a local shop and popped the $3.50 for some thermal grease (not Arctic Blue). Put a bit on and rubbed it in with some paper.

There was a pad on the bottom of the heatsink.

The system is running fine, I think.

I’ve got an nForce2 chipset on the mobo and the drivers for it are wonky. The onboard sound and ethernet don’t seem to work. I checked nVidia’s website, and they don’t support vanilla Win98 anymore, so getting that stuff working is going to have to wait until next month when I pop for a bigger hard drive and WinXP.

I popped my old sound card and ethernet card in, and everything seems to be working. Right now the biggest disappointment is that I don’t really see a big speed increase from my P3 500. Everything works fine, but it always worked fine. Admittedly, I haven’t installed Morrowind or any other games that would’ve killed my old system-- I just don’t have the space on my old 10Gig HD.

So back to Starcraft it is, I guess.

That’s only for retail CPUs that come with a pre-applied thermal pad on the heat sink. They know the thermal dissipation characteristics with the pre-applied stuff, but can’t guarantee someone might screw things up if they misapplied something else.

Of course, OEM processors have no warranty, other than the one supplied by the reseller.

Hmm, I never heard anyone saying you should use the pad and the thermal compound together - folks just say to scrape the damn thing off and wipe it with alcohol. Usually I buy CPU’s OEM and pick up a Thermaltake heatsink/fan, then put a smudge of Arctic Silver III on it. Works goodly.

— Alan