Cleaning out thermal paste from resistors on GPU?

Any suggestions on how to clean out the cooling paste that seeped in between some resistors on my 7970? When I took the stock cooler off it was already in between the resistors, so I just reapplied some AS-5 (which made temps worst, btw) and put it back together. I need to redo the paste application, but I want to clean off the resistors when I do it. I know it's non-conductive, but it's messing with my OCD, lol.

Also, when I took off the heatsink, some of the thermal pads were half stuck to the ram, and half stuck to the cooler. Should I replace these? I don't overclock the card, and the temps on the VRMs/GPU doesn't get very high. (60C Idle/77C load on GPU, and 31C Idle/54C load on the VRMs)

What can also work really well for cleaning this stuff is NON-WOVEN SURGICAL SPONGES / GAUZE. Just go to the pharmacy and ask them for that. These types of gauze produce NO lint or dust bunnies, and won't fray or anything when cleaning that sort of thing. I only use non-woven gauze for cleaning my CPU and such. And yes, alcohol is your friend. 

Yep, I've got 99% Isopropyl that I use for cleaning it off. I just didn't know how fragile those resistors are. I didn't want to go in there with a toothbrush and bust one off. :)


Also, should I be worried about the thermal pads? I put them back together as good as I could. If I remember it right, they really don't even "need" cooling, or was that older cards? 

Well, I took it apart again. All I managed to do was spread it around a bit more and make a bigger mess of things. I decided to just stop where I was at, reinstall the TIM in an X pattern, and put it back together. Temps dropped 2C at idle, and about 3C at load. Not too bad ... and as we all know, AS-5 has a 200 hour cure time. So, we will see how that goes after the cure. I'm sitting at 56C idle, and 75C load. It sure beats how the card was performing since the day I got it at 65C idle and 85C load. 

Those SMD resistor resistors and caps won't come off with a wire brush, let alone a toothbrush!

You need to get in there with the Isopropyl, toothbrush and toilet roll and get all that thermal pate out, as some can be conductive and most are capacitive, so you don't want it brigin surface mount components. 

Yeah, just reiteration now, soft toothbrush and the highest concentration of isopropyl that you can possibly find. Take it slow and have something ready to absorb the isopropyl with and wipe off the thermal paste bits and pieces. I also recommend using a TIM that isn't electrically conductive when working on an unprotected die, such as on a GPU. Too many small things above the surface of the PCB. I've found that Antec Formula 7 works fairly well, and can even be used in the place of thermal pads on things like RAM and VRMs. 

Desolder the resistors and solder them back on when they are clean. A bit cumbersome, but it does work.

I guess my main fear is scratching the die with the toothbrush. Sure, it's a soft bristled brush, but it's still nylon and abrasive. I assume the die won't scratch that easily? I'll go back in there again today since I ran out of time at work last night and had to lock up and head home.

I wouldn't be too terribly concerned about knocking any of them loose unless you really go at it and bear down really hard. Those things are pretty well adhered to the PCB, so you can feel comfortable as long as you are gentle.

That seems minorly impractical.

I could desolder them, but I don't think that much work is worth the trouble.

I took it all apart again and this time I thoroughly cleaned it and it looks like a new penny. Now all I have to do is be able to apply AS5 without screwing up all the work I just did, lol.