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What are the Best Tips for Installing a Heatsink?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 24 July 2017
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2017
    Conjecture Corporation
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Someone installing a heatsink should be careful to not damage the central processing unit (CPU) during installation and to carefully follow all instructions included with the heatsink regarding installation. This should usually be done at a table that is clean and dry, and anyone installing a heatsink may want to avoid wearing socks to prevent potential static buildup and discharge. While specific directions for installation may vary depending on each heatsink, some general guidelines are to use a good quality silver contact and to properly install a fan strong enough to keep the CPU cool.

The heatsink installed onto a computer’s CPU works to keep the CPU from overheating. This can lead to potential performance issues and even computer crashes. A heatsink works through heat transfer, by drawing heat away from the CPU and releasing it into the computer, where it is moved out by fans on the computer tower.

Installing a heatsink should be done in a place that is well lit, stable, clean, and dry to avoid any potential damage to computer components. The heatsink can be installed before placing a motherboard into a computer tower or can be done using a motherboard that is already installed. Static discharge while installing a heatsink could potentially damage a motherboard or CPU, so care should be taken during such an installation to avoid any activities that can build up static electricity, such as shuffling socked feet on carpet.

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Silver contact should be used while installing a heatsink to ensure a proper conductive surface to transfer heat from the CPU to the heatsink. Though the flat surface of a heatsink may look fine, there are typically microscopic flaws that will reduce the contact area of the heatsink with the CPU. Silver contact works to fill in these gaps and allows more contact between the two surfaces, making for better heat transfer. Anyone installing a heatsink should follow the directions included with the heatsink regarding the use of silver contact. Some contact is usually included with a newly purchased heatsink, though it can also be bought separately if necessary.

The attachment of the proper type of fan while installing a heatsink is also important to ensure sufficient CPU cooling. Many heatsinks will come with a fan to be used, though some installers may prefer a different fan from the one included. A little research into different heatsinks and fans can quickly provide anyone interested with a list of fans that provide varying levels of cooling.

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