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Thermal Pad Removal /Heatsink Lapping Guide

Special thanks to Usul from for this guide...

How to: remove the thermal pad form an HSF

What do You need:

In order to effectively remove the thermal pad from the bottom of your Heatsink, you need the following:

a plastic razor
some nail polisher or paint solvent
some alcohol (not Drinking alcohol)
some cotton
fine (600grit) sandpaper

Here is a pic of the bottom of the sample ( a Volcano II) I'm going to use.

As you can see, comes with a yellow thermal pad.

That's the thing we need to remove in order to use Artic Silver II thermal compound to improve the cooling performance.
We're going to do it in two steps:

The First Step:

First, let's worry about the big part. To do this you need some kind of plastic razor. Metal razors aren't good because they'll scratch the surface of the Heatsink, and that will result in poor thermal and cooling efficiency. Basically any thin piece of plastic is fine, I cut a square out of a Wal-Mart package. It just needs to have one side cut with a straight line.

Before using your razor to scratch off the pad, look at the plate surface, and try to identify the path of the machine lavoration. Those are usually either straight parallel lines, or concentric circles. If you can't find any, it just means that the bottom of the heatsink has been worked in different ways.

If you do find a pattern, this is the path you'll approach the pad with, as this will make the removal easier. If you don't, no big deal.

The PAD is usually thermo-fused to the Heatsink, so they'll oppose a certain amount of resistance trying to stay where they are.
You'll find it harder if the Heatsink has already been used on a processor.

Put the razor flat on the aluminum, from the direction you've identified before, and pushing it down move slowly but steadily towards the other side of the pad. You should maintain an angle of 30-60 degrees between the plate and the razor. Should come out like this:

This won't remove 100% of the pad, so don't worry. We're just removing the most of it this way.

When you're done, it should look like this:

Step Two: removing the rest.

Now, we need to clean it up. You'll need some kind of solvent for this. Just go grab your mother's/girlfriend's/wife's/daughter's Nail cleaner. Paint solvent is fine, or any other kind of acetone-based solvent.

Moisten some cotton with it, and stroke over the plate until it's clean. Act gently and keep the cotton wet. Make sure that you remove all the thermal pad. It may take a while, depending on how good of a job you did before.


While the thermal pads are pretty thick ( 0.5 - 1 mm), the amount of Arctic Silver you're suppose to use is really small, so it's a good thing to get rid of all those signs on the bottom plate. What you need is some fine waterproof sandpaper. For fine I mean 600 grit or more.

Cut the sandpaper in a small (2"x2") piece, and wet it. Place it on the Heatsink plate, exactly where the pad was, and pushing down gentily with your fingers begin to lap it. The best way is following an "eight" pattern, periodically rotating the heatsink. Every once in a while use a wet piece of cotton to clean the heatsink, and wet the sandpaper again. It's very important that you keep the sandpaper wet, because otherwise the fine particles from the paper will leave a residue on the metal. And remember that things will begin to get dirty after a while, just use some of the cotton to clean up the surface.

Finishing up:

Finally, use some more cotton wet with some low-residue liquid, like ethylic alcohol, to clean the surface. Keep on stroking, and every once in a while use a clean piece of cotton. You're done when a new piece of cotton is still white after stroking all aver the surface of the heatsink.


Now you're done with the heatsink, and ready to install it on your CPU with some good Arctic Silver.

Let me just remind you once again of two important things: do NOT use a metal razor to clean the aluminum plate, and do NOT use some generic no-name heatsink compound, as it will dry out pretty quick, and will never reach the Arctic Silver level of performance.

Check out Arctic Silver/Alumina


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