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How to Install an AMD Athlon or Duron Socket A Processor
Last updated: 3/26/01

Orient the Fan.  You may want to reposition the fan on top of the heatsink for better routing of the fan wires to the connector on the motherboard.  Many CPU fans can be reoriented by unscrewing the four mounting screws rotating the fan assembly to the desired orientation and screwing the fan back down.  Evenly tighten and do not over-torque the screws.  The threads are easily stripped and the fan frame can be distorted.  This is better done before the heat-sink fan is installed, but it can be done with most fans after installing them on the CPU.  Hold the heatsink so it does not wiggle if you do it after installing the fan on the CPU.   Take care not scratch the bottom of the heatsink.

Clean the Heatsink and CPU Die. Clean the raised part of the bottom of the heat-sink fan with a quality degreaser and wash and a lint-free cloth (or lens cleaner).  Rubbing alcohol, and, if you are careful not to shred it, a good quality Kleenex will work.  A good, lint-less way to clean the CPU die is to put on a clean disposable vinyl glove, wet the end of your index finger with degreaser-wash or rubbing alcohol, and gently apply it to the surface of the die. This is one time you absolutely want to be sure you take take those anti-static precautions so you don't zap the CPU.  Look at both heat sink and CPU at an angle with good lighting to be sure no lint or dirt is left behind.  A bench mounted,  magnifying glass with a light is a good way of doing this.

Next - A Little Dab Will Do Ya >

A Little Dab Will Do Ya.  Don one disposable vinyl glove on the hand you most favor, carefully cut a corner off the heatsink compound package, and dab a little (very little) on the end of your index finger.  This works much better than putting the compound on the CPU and then trying to smear it over the surface. Its better to have too little compound on your finger than too much.  You can always add more.

Besides avoiding getting the goop on your hands, gloves are recommended because dead skin cells, dirt, oil, etc. can diminish the effectiveness of the heatsink compound.  They also do not leave finger prints on the surface of the die.

Now, very carefully and lightly, dab the compound on the surface of the CPU die and no where else.  Apply enough to fill scratches, but keep it thin.  Heatsink compound is a very good conductor of heat, but it is not as good as the metal in the heatsink.  The idea is to cover the entire surface with a thin, even, nearly semi-transparent coat of compound with no "holidays" (missed areas).  Just dab up and down.  I have found after making a mess of things several times, that trying to smear it doesn't work (and the edge of an old credit card, a disposable plastic putty knife, an Xacto knife, and a small sponge-rubber paint applicator didn't work for me).  You should be able to just barely see the color of the die peaking through, like through a very thick, consistent fog and the label on the die barely, if at all, visible here and there.  No bare spots.

Keep it Clean.  If you mess-it-up, the gunk can be cleaned-off the CPU. Degreaser-wash is recommended for this.  If you have to clean it off, all of it must be thoroughly, but carefully  cleaned-off.  None can be left on or between the components mounted on the top of the CPU, outside of the die.  Some heatsink compounds are conductors of electricity and others have capacitance characterizes which can damage or affect the operation of those components.  Be very careful not to dislodge the four rubber standoffs at the corner of the CPU.  They come off easily--a terrible design--and the CPU cannot be operated without them to keep the heatsink flat on, and in full contact with the die and to maintain an air gap between the heatsink and the CPU components outside of the die.  If you knock one loose, you should be able to stick it right back on.

Do not apply heatsink compound to the bottom of the heatsink-fan.  . There is an air gap between the heat sink and that part of the CPU not covered by the die and rubber stand-offs. Heat sink compound is sticky stuff. The extra, unneeded gunk all over the bottom of the heatsink could collect dust particles like flypaper.

Check the Standoffs. Verify that all four rubber standoffs are still on the CPU!

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