Thermal paste might not get as much attention as gaming hardware, but it plays a huge role in the performance of your CPU. If it’s not applied properly, the thermal transfer from processor to heat sink is impeded which can lead to overheating and poor system performance. Thankfully, applying and reapplying the right kind of thermal paste is relatively simple.
Some people (wrongly) recommend spreading a thick layer of the paste manually with a card, finger, or other flat object. This method tends to create small air bubbles that prevent the thermal paste from making contact with the processor surface which can significantly reduce its effectiveness.
A better option is to apply a pea-sized drop directly to the center of the processor and let the pressure from the cooler mounting mechanism spread it evenly before clamping down. It might seem counterintuitive to not use the whole area of the IHS, but an insufficient amount can decrease efficiency and a large enough quantity might cause it to spill out onto the motherboard as you secure the cooler in place.
Once you’ve got a proper application of the paste, it’s time to start the installation process. Make sure the surfaces of both the processor and the cooling plate are clean before beginning to prevent any contamination from interfering with heat transfer. A quick wipe with a lint-free cloth or non-woven filter and some isopropyl alcohol will work just fine. Lastly, make sure to avoid using a ceramic-based paste which is electrically conductive; it can negatively impact your motherboard. CPU thermal paste