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Socket A heatsink Installation guide

Proper Installation of a Socket A CPU

    We have all heard about the numerous deaths of socket a CPU's when they first came out.  Causes ranged from improper installation of the heatsink which then crushed the core and no use of thermal compound ( yes I know but it did happen!) or improper installation of CPU causing heat damage beyond repair.  We will take the time, with numerous pictures to show you the proper way to coat the heatink / cpu with thermal compound and the proper way to install a socket A heatsink.  It is vital that you use a heatsink designed (Copper base with 80mm fan suggested) to fit the socket a chipsets.  These heatsinks apply less pressure than the intel ones and if you use one designed for the flip chip intel cpu's you might crush your precious AMD core.

What You Need:
    Thermal Compound
    Rubbing Alcohol
    Lint-Free Cloth
    Razor Blade

Thermal Compound

    I personally use Artic Silver ( optimized for small contact areas ) but realistically the $1 US Radio Shack brand will work just as well.  Silicon based thermal compound or silver based thermal compound is what you need.  You will see maybe a 2C drop in temperature with Artic Silver but it's more on how you apply it than what kind you use that will lower temperatures.

Step 1:  First you will want to clean the CPU core with the Rubbing Alchohol and a lint free cloth

Step 2:  After it is clean you will want to put a dab of thermal compound on the corner.

Step 3:  Now spread this over the core using your finger with a plastic glove on or any appropriate device to avoid having oils from your finger contaminate the thermal compound giving you less transfer of heat.  You will want a very thin layer because you will also be applying thermal compound to the base of the heatsink.

The Heatsink

    Using a good heatsink is vital in keeping your CPU as cold as possible with air cooling ( duh! ).  It is always wise to lap your core and your heatsink base to get the best contact but with your heatsink. If you plan on overclocking you should take lapping into consideration. 

Step 4:  Just like the CPU, you will want to clean the base of the heatsink with rubbing alcohol.  Remember to use a lint free cloth (old t-shirt) so you don't get lint on it. 

Step 5:  You now will apply a fair amount of thermal compound and rub it over the base with your finger.  It is hard to see the artic silver in the next picture because it is silver, and the heatsink is silver (in color)...!! 

Step 6:  After you have a fair amount on there you will want to scrape off the excess ( most of it ) with a razor blade.  This is very important.  Thermal compound is used to fill in the gaps left on the base of the heatsink and on the core of the processor done by machining.  This garranttees a smooth contact area. 

As you can see there is very little left on the heatsink, as it should be.

Heres a picture of just how much thermal compound came off with the razor (most of it!)


    To insure that you don't scratch your motherboard with the screwdriver, I advise you wrap it with electric tape, as I did.

Insert the processor into the Socket. 

Step 7:  Next, you connect the back of the heatsink ( away from the edge of the motherboard) with the screwdriver.

Step 8:  Important .  It is vital that when attaching the other end you apply pressure from the top directly down onto the fan ( and onto core of cpu ) so you have even pressure over the core to avoid crushing, cracking, or chipping the core.  Push the clip on the other end down with the screw driver and connect it.

Step 9: Optional .  As an optional step, you can now remove the heatsink to see what kind of impression was left on the core.  There should still be an even distrubution of thermal compound on the core, which tells you the heatsink was properly installed and provided even pressure over the entire core.  It should look like this :

Conclusion :
    By following these steps, it ensures that you will be properly cooling your AMD Athlon/Duron processors.  This helps in obtaining the highest clock speeds while overclocking.  If you still see high temperatures after this you may not have a good enough heatsink to dissipate the heat.

Here are the temperature readings with a AMD Thunderbird 800MHz CPU on a Abit KT7-RAID: