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Thermal Paste Question

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Callahan
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Thermal Paste Question

#1 Post by Callahan » Mon May 17, 2021 3:47 pm

In November 2016 I had to replace a fan in my T41 ThinkPad and also in that time period I decided to update the CPUs in my three ThinkPads ... the T41 with the broken fan and two T42s. I got help here on what thermal paste would be the best to use.

I went with NT-H1 for all three machines. I am now thinking of replacing the thermal paste. Is that about the 'life' of thermal paste in a computer? 4 1/2 to 5 years ... or could I squeak another year or two with the 2016 applied paste?

Also, I still had unused thermal paste in the injector tube from 2016. Is this paste still OK to use now or in the future ... or should I just throw it away and buy a new tube. Does 'unused thermal paste' still age or breakdown over time?

I figure many here have knowledge of thermal paste from repairs and such. Of course I didn't push on the NT-H1 injector tube button so it may be all dried up inside, I don't know. My T41 is no longer around in working condition so I only have the two T42s to apply any new thermal paste ... there might be enough left in the tube from 2016.

Thank for the assistance.
...

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Re: Thermal Paste Question

#2 Post by rkawakami » Mon May 17, 2021 5:41 pm

The main reason why thermal paste would "wear out" if left unused is if it's been exposed to a large amount of air over a long time. The silver particles in the paste do not break down but the moisture does go away, leaving it like it's been used on a CPU/heatsink. At least that's my opinion.

I equate it to those small tubes of super glue. They are fine for the first couple of applications but then you leave it in your junk drawer for several years and it's impossible to use the remaining stuff because it's hardened up over time. So you throw it away and go out and buy a new tube and the cycle starts over again.

I have a 3.5g syringe of Antec Formula 5 (an Arctic Silver 5 wannabe) that's been firmly capped on my desk for at least 10 years. I just retrieved it. I probably used it on 4 or 5 systems when it was new. While the plunger hasn't seized up, the paste that's coming out of the tip is not as free-flowing as I remembered it to be; "chunky" would be my description. I wouldn't go through the trouble to take apart a system to get to the CPU or GPU and use this paste. It would be a waste of time and effort to do the job right.

As far as the application life of the paste in a system, I would think it would be more than 4.5 to 5 years but that appears to be the recommendation of the manufacturers. After all, they are in the business of selling the stuff. Almost all of the Thinkpads I have now are on their original paste. I think I used this paste on T23 systems because at the time that was my favorite system to work on. I've since mostly retired them and rarely turn them on. An A31p that's left on 24/7 does get warm, but not overly so. It would be a good candidate for new paste. The two W520 systems I use every day are put in Sleep Mode overnight. They also could probably stand to use new paste.
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Re: Thermal Paste Question

#3 Post by Callahan » Mon May 17, 2021 10:10 pm

Thanks a lot for the detailed information. You are so right about 'old' tubes of super glue never being any good after a period of time ... always rock hard.

I will just buy new thermal paste ... especially after going through all the time and effort of taking a ThinkPad apart, applying fresh new thermal paste makes more sense.

I may wait till later in the year or next year to do this job. At the present time I don't have a hot temperature problem except for certain web pages for these older machines. So maybe the thermal paste is still OK.

Is NT-H1 thermal paste still a good paste to use five years later or is there something better on the market? It was suggested to me at the time in the forum that NT-H1 didn't have any metal in it like Arctic Silver 5 and that since this was the first time I had ever worked with thermal paste, a thermal paste with no metal might be better.
...

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Re: Thermal Paste Question

#4 Post by RealBlackStuff » Tue May 18, 2021 12:35 am

A fresh tube of NT-H1 is still a very good bet: https://www.tomshardware.com/best-picks ... rmal-paste
There is also the new NT-H2 which is a teensy bit better: https://www.tech-critter.com/noctua-nt- ... omparsion/

Personally I wouldn't wait that long to refresh paste, at the longest 2 years per machine.
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Re: Thermal Paste Question

#5 Post by dr_st » Tue May 18, 2021 3:21 am

I never bother "refreshing" thermal paste unless I am also changing the heatsink/fan (if it breaks) or I actually experience elevated temperatures. The good ones does not dry as fast. I still have a couple of small syringes of Shin-Etsu somewhere and I've certainly applied paste that was >5 years old, and it felt the right viscosity. Certainly did not turn into cement like super-glue does...
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Re: Thermal Paste Question

#6 Post by Callahan » Tue May 18, 2021 2:06 pm

RBS ... thanks for the NT-H1 / NT-H2 information. I probably will reorder NT-H1 thermal paste in a month or later today and apply some new paste. Now I am curious to see what condition the NT-H1 paste is like in my computer after 5 years.

There seems to be a good price difference between NT-H1 and NT-H2 from what I'm seeing on eBay for the same size 3.5 gram tube. $34 to $35 with shipping - 3.5 gram size versus $8.00 to $12.00 for NT-H1.

Noctua NT-H1 3.5g, Pro-Grade Thermal Compound Paste (3.5g)
Brand New
$7.98 / Free shipping
-----------------------------------------------
Noctua NT-H2 3.5g Pro-Grade Thermal Compound Paste
Brand New
$25.00 + $8.50 shipping

Noctua NT-H2 Pro-Grade Premium Thermal Paste Compound Grease 3.5g / 1.2ml Tube
Brand New
$22.53 + $11.79 shipping
from United Kingdom - 86 sold

I did OK with the NT-H1 thermal compound before so I will go with it again, save a few pennies. Maybe if I had newer more expensive computers or a high priced FrankenPad ... I would get the Noctua NT-H2 paste.

dr_st - Appreciate your input also ... I picked up a used 2008 Honda Accord last Sep 2020 after someone 'crashed and smashed' my old 1991 Geo Prism. So I had to learn all about Hondas ... I had never heard of the name 'Shin-Etsu' until I started reading about Shin-Etsu silicone grease being recommended for Honda door gaskets and other items, so I bought a tube for the Honda. I had no idea they also made thermal paste / grease.

Shin-Etsu X23-7783D - Microsi High Performance 1G Thermal Grease / Thermal Paste for CPU Processors or GPU's
X23-7783D Condition: New Category: Cooling
On Sale $7.99
...

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Thermal Paste Question

#7 Post by WarMachine » Mon May 24, 2021 4:55 am

Hello,

As I'm concerned, I repaste my laptops when I get them (not new units, of course, they're mainly machines from 2005 to 2015). The paste is never in good shape.
I've bought some Arctic Silver MX-2 (4 g syringe) about 3 or 4 years ago and it's still going fine. I've got some Thermalgrizzly Conductonaut (1 g syringe), which is liquid, 2 years ago and no problem with it.

On the packaging of the Arctic Silver, it was written that the paste could last 7 years (I don't remember if it's for storage or when it's in use, but I think it's when it's used). No date for the Thermalgrizzly. What is nice with the Thermalgrizzly is that the tube has a closing system with rubber and it's delivered in a zip pocket, so, it can be stored for a long time.

The two worst laptops I had to repaste were my T400s and my MacBook Alu from 2008. The first was shutting down after 20 seconds, the second worked, but with a fan always at maximum. I used Thermalgrizzly on the two machines and today everything is fine (it has been fine since). I didn't see bad evolution with the temperatures since the repaste (ca. 2 years) so I don't think it's time to repaste again.

:)

W.
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Re: Thermal Paste Question

#8 Post by Callahan » Thu May 27, 2021 3:56 pm

Thanks for your input about the thermal products you have used. I haven't bought anything yet. I was going to buy another syringe of NT-H1 paste but the price jumped up after I posted my question ... from $7.50 to $9.98 , so I have decided to wait awhile to see if the price comes back down, if not then I will buy something.

So I have time to look at other products and may try something else. One week ago I took my old T41 apart ... I no longer use it since it no longer works, will just keep it for parts. I removed the CPU and fan to store for any future use. I wanted to check the NT-H1 paste that I had applied in Nov 2016.

It was not dry but I think it was somewhat dry from when I applied it 4 1/2 years ago. There seemed to be two small spots on the CPU that were 'clean' with no paste. That was the very first time I ever applied or worked with thermal paste and I maybe didn't use enough. I'm not sure ... i may try three lines across the next time I apply new thermal paste on my other two working ThinkPads, I think I went with a round drop in the middle of the CPU and it might not have spread evenly everywhere.

Maybe a little extra or some small overflow on the CPU edge is better than 'not' enough thermal paste being applied to do the job.
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Re: Thermal Paste Question

#9 Post by RealBlackStuff » Fri May 28, 2021 12:29 am

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Re: Thermal Paste Question

#10 Post by WarMachine » Sat May 29, 2021 3:51 pm

So, this *.PDF always exists ?! Wow ! :D
I remember I gave it to my clients 10 years ago, or so ! :D

Some good informations in video here too:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofyNgJyhGuc

:)

W.
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Re: Thermal Paste Question

#11 Post by axur-delmeria » Sat May 29, 2021 8:55 pm

The Thermal Grizzly pastes I bought came in a resealable aluminized Mylar bag, to minimize moisture loss I guess.
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Re: Thermal Paste Question

#12 Post by Callahan » Mon May 31, 2021 1:44 pm

RBS - thanks for the Laptop CPU pasting instructions *PDF ... probably also a help to others, I had never seen it before.

WarMachine ... if it's been around for 10 years, too bad I didn't 'stumble' across it sooner in my thermal paste searching in 2016. I downloaded the video also.

axur-delmeria ... you and others have mentioned Thermal Grizzly, I read some good reviews on it. I may just get some of that and give it a try, since I have not ordered anything as of yet.

"Thermal Grizzly is one of the top names in thermal pastes, and focuses almost exclusively on thermal paste/grease products. Among their lineup, the Kryonaut paste is the ceramic compound that is by far the most popular product."

After posting, I came across this video ... 'Does Replacing Thermal Paste On Consumer Laptops Make Sense' He is using Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut and got some nice comments on his testing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOePb-7KGiQ
...

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Re: Thermal Paste Question

#13 Post by Callahan » Sat Jul 17, 2021 10:08 am

OK ... an update and more thermal paste questions. About three weeks ago I ordered the Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut from an eBay seller. The price had dropped slightly so I went with it ... also got a little paper with the order that had a code on it to verify that the product was 'genuine'. All that checked out, that's good to know since I saw some people online saying they had received fake thermal grease from some places.

I have two ThinkPads to repaste and I was hoping there would be enough for both ThinkPads, since you only get 1 gram in the tube. I am still not sure how much thermal grease is left for the second computer. The last thermal grease I ordered five years ago was Noctua NT-H1 and it was a 3.5 gram plunger tube, more than enough for three computers.

I have to say that upon inspection, the Noctua NT-H1 looked just fine to me, being there for almost five years ... not dried out or cracking, just touching it and it's on your finger, like five years ago. I will also add, that this TPad T42 14in was maybe only turned on for 10 to 12 months in the last 4 1/2 years. I bought three refurbished TPads in 2010 - one T41 14in, one T42 14in and one T42 15in. The T41 was heavily used daily and finally bit the dust late last year.

So maybe because the other two ThinkPads had little use for almost five years the Noctua NT-H1 held up for that reason, with little heat. I have not yet started on the T42 15in, later today I hope but I expect the Noctua NT-H1 will be 'fresh looking' since it also has had little use over the last five years.

Just to add, when I did apply the Noctua NT-H1 almost five years ago, two of the ThinkPads had very dry and cracked thermal paste and one seemed to be OK with fairly decent fresh looking paste ... but I had no idea what thermal grease had been used.

So yesterday I did the T42 14in repaste with Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut and got back on the internet and came here and saw this post by RealBlackStuff for the first time about Kryonaut Grizzly having a 'heat' problem at 80 C or higher. I spent some time last night and this morning searching out additional information. Sure enough it seems to be a common complaint along with several complaints that it is also 'runny'.

Here's the RBS post from July 2nd:

ThinkPad Utility Work Area / IBM_ECW : Power management tool for T4x/R5x

by RealBlackStuff » Fri Jul 02, 2021

If temps are a problem, get some better thermal paste. My wife likes to play games on her X240. Recently the fan started getting loud and temperatures were going into the high 80s (Centigrade/Celsius), even though less than a year ago I had applied the (supposedly top dog) Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut paste.

It has become known that Kryonaut starts to lose functionality if has been over 80 c just once! So the other day I took a look, noticed that half the paste had disappeared(??), and replaced it with Phobya NanoGrease Extreme.

Believe it or not: playing the same games, temperatures are about 15 C lower!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So now I have a T42 question and the 80 C temps threshold. Since I have had these T4X ThinkPads (2010) I have never seen temps in the 70 C to 80 C range. I have seen temps up to 68 C and maybe 69 C but I don't remember ever seeing 70 C or higher. I am wondering if anyone can also confirm this that older T4x ThinkPads don't get that hot. I have a few programs and several web sites in today's world that will make the ThinkPads run 'hot' ... maybe up to 67 C or 68 C but that seems to be the high point.

So since I have already bought the Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut and have done one computer, I will do the other one also I guess.

If my temperatures never hit the 70s or 80 C, this should be fine ... even with the computer running hot in the 60s C but mostly in the 50 C range the Kryonaut grease should not be a problem?

I just hope there is still enough thermal grease left in the plunger tube for the second computer. Being only 1 gram and I can't see how much is left.

So does anyone here that had some ThinkPad T4xs earlier or are still using them ... have you seen temps in the 70 to 80 C range? Maybe I have just been lucky with some temps in the 60s C range. I do a lot of video converting, making my DVD collection into a digital flashdrive collection. That probably helped bring an end to my T41 but it was in the worse shape when I bought it compared to the other two ThinkPads. It looked like it had had some heavy use before it got to me.

Thanks ...

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Re: Thermal Paste Question

#14 Post by Callahan » Sat Jul 17, 2021 3:31 pm

Well I have a new problem with my T42 15in. I took it apart and put the newer Kryonaut Thermal paste on the machine. All went well, replaced everything and it would not start up. It turns on and says about pressing the Access IBM button, that doesn't seem to do anything so I have been pressing the F1 button to enter the BIOS. I did put in the correct time and date. I have taken the computer apart two more times looking for any loose wires or cables.

I wanted to be sure the little fan adapter plug was in correctly, also the Keyboard and the outside frame adapter was plugged in correctly. I replaced the CMOS battery, wasn't sure if the old one in the computer had died.

I took everything apart again a third time today but I am seeing nothing out of place. So for now my best computer the T42 15in is 'dead in the water'. I hope I can get this thing working again.

Any ideas what could be a problem or the problem?

Thanks ...

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Re: Thermal Paste Question

#15 Post by axur-delmeria » Sat Jul 17, 2021 8:04 pm

Temporarily remove the HDD and CD/DVD drive, and see if you can enter the BIOS setup. When a drive is malfunctioning, the computer will seemingly hang at the BIOS screen because it's waiting for the drive to respond.
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Re: Thermal Paste Question

#16 Post by Callahan » Sat Jul 17, 2021 9:20 pm

OK, I removed both drives (HDD and DVD) and the BIOS screen did show up. It took a little longer than normal but it finally popped up. With both drives back in, the BIOS does show up a few seconds faster.

I have been wondering if I could have damaged the little white fan connector taking it out several times. It's the only thing I can think off, they are so small. The computer would not start that way, would it ... if the fan was not running? I have a spare fan in a box somewhere.I can't think of anything different that may have happened.

The BIOS has kept the date and time after I replaced the CMOS battery earlier. I'm not sure the old battery wasn't still working but it was a few years old.

Thanks ...
Last edited by Callahan on Sun Jul 18, 2021 3:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Thermal Paste Question

#17 Post by dr_st » Sun Jul 18, 2021 1:49 am

If the fan connector had been damaged, the fan would not have run, and you would have been greeted with "Fan error" upon turning the laptop on. So I don't think it is this...
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Re: Thermal Paste Question

#18 Post by Callahan » Sun Jul 18, 2021 4:28 am

Thanks dr_st ... I decided to start the computer again and yes the fan is running, I didn't really notice it before since it was so quiet but I could feel air being pushed out.

Now this is crazy, I was writing down the message that I see at the bottom of the IBM startup screen to post here. It took me close to 1 1/2 minutes to write everything exactly: 'To interrupt Normal startup, press the blue Access IBM button' .

As I am writing all that down, the computer started again and went all the way to a complete normal startup. Everything was just perfect but it never took that long before to completely log in on it's own. That IBM startup screen with that message is usually only visible a few seconds and not 1 1/2 minutes.

After reading your post, I just decided to turn the computer back on to see if the fan was pushing air out and the IBM screen and message was just there and I decided to just let it on for a few minutes to see if anything would happen and I started to write that message down also. I had not let the screen stay on that long before since it is normally only seen for a few seconds before going away.

I rebooted again and went into the BIOS ... I know there is a 'fast boot' and I wondered if that had got changed somehow. The Boot mode seemed to be OK for a faster startup.

Boot Mode - Quick / Enabled

Option Key Display - Boot Device List F12 Option / Current setting - Enabled

Well at least the computer is starting but why the longer time to completely start up. It was normal about two weeks ago.

Thanks ...
Last edited by Callahan on Mon Jul 19, 2021 11:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Thermal Paste Question

#19 Post by Callahan » Sun Jul 18, 2021 5:00 am

A followup ... as I posted my last message I was letting the T42 15in completely 'cool down', it wasn't actually that hot anyway ... I was using my T42 14in to post the last message. Also, when the T42 15in started up before my last post, it was on battery power.

Now I am on the T42 15in typing this post with AC power. The computer completely started up fine and that IBM screen was only there a few seconds, like normal. Yesterday I tried both a battery and AC power startup several times with that IBM startup screen hanging much longer than normal every time ... but now all seems to be just fine.

I don't know what to say ... another false alarm about a problem that doesn't seem to be there anymore. Something must have been out of whack yesterday but it seems to have corrected itself.

Callahan

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Re: Thermal Paste Question

#20 Post by dr_st » Sun Jul 18, 2021 6:12 am

Long delay during POST, which sometimes is present and sometimes is not, is frequently attributed to faulty IDE/USB devices, or finicky connections.
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Re: Thermal Paste Question

#21 Post by Callahan » Mon Jul 19, 2021 10:10 am

Here's another crazy TP story from yesterday. I wasn't going to post anything about it but then I'm thinking it could be of some help to someone else, if it happens to them.

If you read my earlier post about my T42 15in not starting completely, just hanging at the IBM ThinkPad screen after I did a CPU repaste and replaced the CMOS battery. Eventually it did completely start after I just turned it off and then back on and let it sit at the IBM TP screen. Maybe after about two minutes it started to finish the boot up process.

This was after I had taken the TP apart three times looking for something maybe I had forgot to do correctly.

The day before I did a repaste on my T42 14in and that computer had no problem do a complete start when turned back on.

However, I wasn't exactly sure or didn't feel I had applied enough Thermal Grizzly paste to the CPU and I also wanted to put a new CMOS battery in place since the battery currently in there was cheap from eBay and several years old and probably ready to go. So I got a new 2032 lithium and applied new thermal paste again to my liking.

Since there is only 1 gram in the Kryonaut tube, I wasn't sure if there would be enough for two computers ... but there was enough for three computers at least, since I did the T42 14in twice. Maybe there is enough for two or three more applications but you can't see what is left.

So this is the crazy part ... put everything back together and the T42 14in would't completely start ... just hung at the IBM screen like the other T42. So having just gone through all this a day before, I turned the computer off and restarted it. Again it hung at the IBM screen so I just left it running, came back in about four minutes and it had completely finished going all the way into the system.

As dr_st said about a long delay 'frequently attributed to faulty IDE/USB devices, or finicky connections' ... maybe this will solve that problem for someone else, just let the computer stay on for five minutes and maybe everything will be back to normal.

The computer is running normal, no hangups during startup.

I will also add that I do seem to notice the temps being a few degrees cooler with using Kryonaut Thermal Grizzly. I wasn't sure what 'Thermal Conductivity: 12.5 W/m.K' really meant and which way is better, higher or lower. I found this information ...

"Thermal Conductivity: The thermal conductivity of a thermal paste represents its capability to transfer heat from one surface to another. The conductivity is available in the W/mK unit where 'higher' is always better."

So Kryonaut Thermal Grizzly has this rating - Thermal Conductivity: 12.5 W/m.K and many of the other thermal pastes have lower numbers. I guess you just have to stay under the 80 C threshold, which I may not have to worry about with a T42 ThinkPad.
...

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Re: Thermal Paste Question

#22 Post by atagunov » Mon Jul 19, 2021 10:34 am

Really really crazy... Why would repasting cause a long delay? Can it be that just disconnecting CMOS batt and connecting it back again is causing this issue?
E.g. total loss of CMOS content is pushing BIOS to do something funny for a few minutes but eventually it recovers, writes good values to CMOS and is a happy bunny again?
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Re: Thermal Paste Question

#23 Post by Callahan » Mon Jul 19, 2021 12:36 pm

atagunov ... that was also my thinking, a connection with installing a new CMOS battery and the hangup at startup. I've changed the CMOS batteries before and can't remember if this happened before. I have been buying small little cheap CMOS batteries from sellers on eBay over the years and they never seem to last very long. You never know who really made them and how old they might be before you get them, they come from China but there are no company markings on the ones I get. Just a generic battery with two wires.

The ones I have been sent are smaller than a regular 2032 size battery and a year or two ago I read about making your own CMOS battery with a fresh 2032 Lithium battery. I had saved the connectors from some older dead eBay batteries and decided this time to finally do it ... I used electrical tape to hold the + and - wires in place and then wrapped the whole battery with tape for a 'long life' I hope.

So far - so good, but like you I wonder if replacing the CMOS battery is connected to the startup hangup. The article I read said to use a 2032 lithium battery and they are 3 volts ... so I don't know.

Everything working so far.
...

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