Performing Maintenance on my PC, I have a couple of questions

  • is this a good amount of thermal paste?

  • what’s a good way to clean dust out a CPU cooler?

They say a “pea sized” amount … but you don’t want to overdo it… so yes, looks reasonable to me…

A vacuum to start (to get anything that will come loose), and then probably canned/compressed air, and the vacuum again for anything that came loose. Be gentle with your vacuuming though, if the suction is too strong make sure you don’t completely seal off the nozzle on a fan blade or anything (cause you could break it.)

I use a wetvac with a cheapo PC cleaning attachment set I got at Micro Center. It’s great for getting into tight spaces around the case as well.

At work, I’ve always used an industrial compressor to blow out the dust. At home a can of compressed air. Then vacuum up the loose particles.

It makes a bit of a mess, so a big work area, or better a garden table is advisable.

The one thing to be wary of, is to ensure that any fans are locked in position, before you blast them with air - real compressed air can kill the bearings and motor, by overspinning the fan. I usually drop a thin screwdriver into the blades to hold them still, then blast them in short bursts.

At my previous employer, they had a large, open welding and storage area and I could take the PCs there to clean them, replace the power tools on the compressor with a nozzle with trigger and have at it. I also always wore a face mask (not so hard to find these days :smiley: ) .

I once did a rack of servers with a portable compressor, that our maintenance company brought in. My white shirt was grey by the time we had finished… But the compressor shifts more air than the vacuum on its own can. The trick is short bursts and to avoid blasting directly onto the motherboard or other components.

If you want to fully nerd out about thermal compound (or are looking for a base heavy background music), check this out:

Turns out drawing a cross or spreading the paste gives best results.

Yeah usually when first starting you can find your optimal amount of thermal paste by doing a pea size then spreading it with a old business card to make sure you get full coverage.

Also I just wanted to add to be careful using a vacuum and I would not advise using a vacuum directly on PC components as the vacuums will build static that can discharge and short out components. They make vacuums specifically for this purpose. I’ve used vacuums a lot and never had an issue but that is always in the back of my mind so I tend not to over do it.


As far as how much paste to use. It’s apparently better to use a little too much than too little.