How to Apply CPU Cooling Gel Correctly

Written by chris hoffman Google
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How to Apply CPU Cooling Gel Correctly
CPU heat sinks often include fans. (heat sink image by Sonar from

CPU cooling gel, also known as thermal paste, is the substance that sits between your computer's processor and the processor's heat sink. A computer's CPU produces a lot of heat, and the cooling gel between the CPU and heat sink eliminates air pockets and provides a path for the heat to leave the CPU and heat up the heat sink. Once the heat sink absorbs the heat, its fan and larger surface area dissipate the heat. Whether you're putting together a new computer or installing a new CPU, you need to apply CPU cooling gel correctly so your CPU doesn't overheat and become damaged.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Clean the top of the CPU if old thermal gel or pads are present. Scrape the bulk of the gel or pad off using a credit card or similar object, then clean the top of the CPU using a small amount of isopropyl alcohol and cotton swabs. New CPUs don't require cleaning.

  2. 2

    Insert the CPU into your motherboards CPU socket and close the hinge that locks it in place. Consult your motherboard's manual for directions specific to your motherboard.

  3. 3

    Apply a small dab of cooling gel, about the size of a grain of rice, to the centre of the top of the CPU. Only a small amount of gel is required in order to make a thin layer that fills in spaces between the heat sink and the processor.

  4. 4

    Mount the heat sink on the CPU, placing it on top of the CPU as level as possible. As the heat sink is seated firmly in place on top of the CPU, it squeezes the CPU cooling gel in a thin layer between the heat sink and CPU. Consult your CPU or heat sink's documentation for more information on properly mounting your heat sink.

  5. 5

    Re-apply the cooling gel if you remove the heat sink from the CPU.

Tips and warnings

  • Don't apply too much CPU cooling gel, or it will leak out when you mount the heat sink.
  • Don't place the heat sink on the CPU at an angle or the CPU cooling gel won't spread properly.

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