To Thermal Paste, Or Not To Thermal Paste?

It has been suggested to me many times that I should pre-build my system before I put it in the case.

If I pre-build it: Can you take the CPU cooler off the CPU after the pre-build without damaging the CPU or the Thermal Paste? (I am using a NZXT Kraken X61 106.1 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler with a Intel Core i5-4690K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor )

Do you recommend pre-building? I am using the NZXT H440 case. All of the parts are coming in the next week.




If you take the cooler off the CPU you should clean off the paste and apply new when you put it back on.

I don't pre-build because I don't want to build it twice.


Whenever you remove the cooler you need to replace the thermal paste, otherwise you'll create lots of air bubbles, which defeats the purpose of thermal paste. Removing the cooler from the CPU is safe, as long as you don't yank it off. If it doesn't want to come off, wiggle it around a bit to loosen up the thermal paste. It'll come off safely if you're patient and cautious.

I strongly recommend pre-building because it is not that uncommon to receive a part that's DOA, and it really sucks to disassemble your computer because of one bad part. It's happened to me at least 3 times: bad PSU (especially sucked because I didn't know until after I did a great wiring job), bad stick of RAM in a mITX system (also sucked since I had to remove the motherboard to get access to RAM), bent CPU pins). Just make sure you can boot up to the desktop and run a stress test for a while (I recommend Prime95 blend test) before finalizing your build (putting in case and wiring).

You shouldn't need to remove the cooler however. Mounting the radiator is not necessary for the pre-build; just place it next the system. Cooler should fine as long as tubing remains kink-free and fans can move air through the rad.

Ok, so I have another question: How difficult would it be to do a pre build, run the tests, and then take apart most of the build (leaving only the motherboard, CPU and CPU Cooler attached)

Could I install the motherboard in the NZXT H440 without taking the CPU or Cooler off? Is there any risk?

If there is, I will buy some thermal paste. What thermal paste do your recommend? (The Kracken has pre-applied thermal paste)

Wait a second! I just realized something awesome! The CPU comes with a stock CPU Cooler. I can use the stock cooler for the pre-build, and then use the Kracken for the real build.

(I will plug in the Kracken to make sure it works before I put it in though :)

What do you think of that solution?

That is fine. Just be sure to clean of the old thermal paste with some rubbing alcohol and a coffee filter before you attach the Kraken. 

I have a Kraken btw, love it. 

Awesome! I will make sure to do that :D Thanks!