Thermal paste is one of the most important components of any computer – without it, your CPU would likely overheat and fail. It is typically applied between a heat sink and processor to help dissipate excess heat, and it fills microscopic gaps and imperfections that might otherwise trap air particles – which are a bad conductor of heat.
There are different types of Thermal paste available, at various price and performance points. The best (and most expensive) ones consist almost entirely of liquid metal, such as a variation on the alloy gallium. These have higher thermal conductivities, but are not easy to apply properly. Others contain a combination of zinc oxide and silicone, and are easier to work with.
Applying a good quality thermal paste is an essential step when building or replacing a computer. Always clean the surfaces you plan to use with a non-oil based cleaner before applying, and avoid touching the surface with your fingers unless you have latex gloves. The natural oils on your hands can degrade the material.
When applying, be sure to spread a thin layer evenly. A pea-sized drop is typically sufficient for most applications, but you can also purchase a special applicator to get the job done right. Some people even like to use a credit card or similar tool, so the paste is squashed down and distributed in a precise manner before clamping the heat sink down on the processor. Heat sink paste