Thermal paste plays a fundamental role in the correct cooling of a CPU, and also of a GPU. This has a very simple explanation, and that is that we are talking about a material that facilitates contact and heat transfer between two surfaces, and that eliminates the problems that can be produced by the small inequalities and imperfections existing between both surfaces.
It’s easy to understand, think for example what would happen if we were to let the IHS of a CPU or the package of a GPU making direct contact, without any material in betweenwith the base of the cooling system. Any surface irregularity, nick or damage, no matter how minorwould notably reduce heat transfer, and that direct contact will end up being ineffective in keeping the temperatures of both components under control, since heat transfer would be jerky and much slower.
We already know why thermal paste is so important, but we must also keep in mind that this material has a limited useful life, and that over time it degrades and dries until it becomes grit. Before that happens, we must proceed to change it, since otherwise we will have serious temperature problems. When it comes time to change the thermal paste we have to disassemble the cooling system, and this in the case of graphics cards can be quite laborious.
Once we have disassembled, we must clean the old thermal paste before applying the new one, but how should we do both? for cleaning It is best to use isopropyl alcohol., and for its application the method of the ball in the center is ideal when we talk about CPUs, a method that I have also been applying to GPUs. However, a new analysis by Igors Lab confirms that for relatively large GPUs the centered vertical line method is more effectivesince it improves temperatures by almost three degrees.
It’s not a big difference, and Igor himself says that the ball-to-center method is still perfectly viable for most GPUs, but why is the line method better? According to Igor because this method allows better distribution of thermal paste by the pressure of the contact base of the cooling system, so that it ends up optimally covering the entire surface of the GPU package, which improves heat transfer. Interestingly, the worst method is the uniform distribution of thermal paste over the entire surface of it, something that could be done with a small spatula, due to the problem of compaction after installing the cooling system.