How to Apply Thermal Paste to GPU? [16 Easy Steps] [2023 Updated]

The Graphics Processing Unit is one of the most resilient and fragile components in the computer PC. It is prone to get heated excessively, especially with continuous usage. One of the vital components that could cool down the GPU and protect it from this excessive heat is the thermal paste.

How to apply thermal paste to GPU?

If you are a PC builder or if you wish to protect your system by yourself, from the comforts of your home, then you should be well versed with the thermal paste application technique.  With practice, the art of applying the thermal paste to the GPU becomes as easy as a cakewalk. The trick here is to learn how much paste to apply on the GPU and choose the right amount of paste.

Thermal Paste – Everything You Should Know

how to apply thermal paste to gpu

The thermal paste as the name applies, is a conductor. It helps in the transfer of heat between the two surfaces within the computer GPU. These two surfaces are the GPU and the heat sink. By applying this thermal paste, it is possible to transport the heat from the GPU chips and the heat sink. Both these components do not have adhesive properties, and we are trying to establish a connection between them by applying the thermal paste. 

Other reasons to use the thermal paste on the GPU are as follows:

  • When the metal surfaces of the PC interact with each other, owing to friction, there are chances for tiny bubbles to appear between them. As their surfaces are irregular, there is greater friction between them. GPU thermal paste application helps to fill the air gaps between the surfaces. It also helps to enhance the rates of heat transfer.
  • There are chances for the chips inside the PC to catch fire when the heat builds. This thermal paint acts as a cooling paint and preserves the investment.

When to Apply the Thermal Paste?

Apply the Thermal Paste

There is a specific time and appropriate situation to apply the thermal paste. Most of the GPUs will have some type of cooling compound in their stock fan. Though this cooling compound is enough for the average user. For users who are overusing the computer to get the most out of the computer, it is recommended to use the thermal paste.

If you think that your GPU has been mining for a long period, it is advised to apply or change the thermal paste between the heat sink and the GPU. This paste will get hard over time and the GPU will overheat with time. This might cause permanent damage to the GPU. The one-time application alone is not enough, and it is recommended to update the thermal paste as frequently as required.

GPUs that are aged three years and the GPUs that tend to overheat recommend the frequent application of thermal paste. Some GPUs tend to overheat, and it is recommended to update the thermal paste for these GPUs frequently. 

Thermal paste generally lasts for 5 to 10 years. Gamers and those who use the PC intensely should change the thermal paste, once every three years. If there are no overheating issues in the PC, then it is okay to take more time in applying the thermal paste. 

Apply the Thermal Paste

How To Apply Thermal Paste To GPU?

Thermal Paste to the GPU

Here is the step-by-step instruction for applying the thermal paste to the GPU of the computer:

1. Before applying the thermal paste to the GPU, ensure to remove the GPU card from the computer. Before removing the GPU card, power the computer down and remove all the power cables attached to it. 

2. The next step is to open the case lid and dismantle all the power cables that attach to the graphics card.

3. Before removing the GPU, remove the screws that secure the graphics card to its case. Slide the release clip, and transform it into an open position. 

4. Release the clip present at the end of the PCI express slot, where the graphics card attaches to the motherboard.

Thermal Paste to the GPU

5. Make sure to pull the card gently, maintain the level of the card, and leave the release clip in the open position as required.

6. Use compressed air to blow and clean the card. This will make sure that the card is clean to work on. You can also clean the GPU with the help of a paintbrush.

7. Detach the fan connector from the graphics card by removing the screws at the rear side of the card.

8. If the heatsink is still connected with the GPU, even after removing all the screws, you can pry it loose with the help of a plastic lever.

9. For cleaning, make use of good thermal paste removal. Apply the thermal removal agent on the card with the help of a clean cloth. 

10. Wipe the surface carefully and clean the surface of both the heatsink and GPU. Proper cleaning will avoid corrosion on these surfaces later on.

11. Use compressed air to blow the dust and lint remaining on the surfaces. 

12. After cleaning the surfaces apply a small amount of thermal paste. Make sure it is enough to cover the contact areas of both the heatsink and the GPU.

13. Do not apply too much thermal paste as it might ooze out from the sides of the area, creating a mess.

14. After applying the thermal paste, reassemble the heatsink quickly, to avoid dust particles from settling on the contact surfaces. 

15. Place the heatsink in its place. Hold the heatsink in one hand, and use the other hand to secure the screws back to the heatsink.

16. Reinstall the graphics card and make sure it is kept leveled while being inserted back into the slot.

Thermal Paste to the GPU

Precautions to apply appropriate thermal paste to the GPU

There are numerous methods to apply the thermal paste to the GPU. Applying too much thermal paste should not be a problem with the GPU performance. What matters is the appropriate application of the adequate amount of thermal paste to serve the purpose. It is important to choose the most appropriate conductive thermal paste. Making use of non-conductive thermal paste could damage the costly gear. 

Apply the Thermal Paste to the GPU

While using conductive paste, extra caution should be taken to not spill them over the edges of the GPU base plate. This will end up short-circuiting the surrounding components. The final result of this act is irreversible GPU damage. 

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]

Q1. What is the effect of applying the thermal paste on the GPU?

A1. After replacing the thermal paste on the GPU, you could find that there is a tremendous improvement in the stability and performance of the GPU.

Q2. What thermal pastes to buy?

A2. While buying thermal pastes, make sure to buy something with high thermal conductivity. The material can transfer heat. Materials with higher thermal conductivity render a better cooling effect.

Q3. Should I remove the old paste, before applying the new one?

A3. Yes, it is important to remove the old thermal paste, before applying the new one. The best way to remove it is to use 90% alcohol.

Q4. Can I use thermal pads instead of thermal paste?

A4. The benefit of thermal pads is that they don’t ooze away from the chip and the pad will stay where it is put.

How to apply thermal paste to GPU? [Bottom Line]

We hope we have explained the nuances of applying thermal paste to the GPU. Knowing the right technique for applying the thermal paste helps to optimize the temperature at which the GPU runs. 

Leave a Comment