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Thinking about repasting my laptop - is it worth it?

therealczgamer

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First of all, my laptop:
Lenovo L340-17IRH Gaming (81LL00F5CK)
Nvidia GTX 1650
Intel Core i5-9300HF
16 GB RAM
1 TB SSD
(from how many posts about the l340 i've seen here, it looks this laptop has really crappy cooling lol)

So i've had thermal throttling problems while gaming for a few months now, but it's only in the last 30 days where it got very noticeable.
Spent quite a lot of time trying to fix it, including messing around with throttlestop, cleaning the laptop's insides, changing all power related settings... Eventually i managed to get the CPU temps under control, but the GPU is still problematic: It reaches it's maximum temperatures of 87°C within 5 minutes in SOME games (others work fine and only really throttle after very long gaming sessions, despite being similar in graphical intensity) and then keeps itself capped at it's base clock speed until i restart the laptop. Now since i've already cleaned out the dust from the laptop, and apart from undervolting the gpu (which i didn't try because i don't really understand the curve editor) there doesn't seem to be much else that can be done about GPU temps, so i guess repasting is my last option here. (believe me, i tried every single software related solution i found)

Question is, will it actually be worth the effort? I will be getting a laptop cooling pad in a few weeks, should i just wait for that and see if it fixes the issue? or does this seem like an issue caused by the thermal paste or a different component?
Any feedback on this would be appreciated.
(i will send more technical details/logs if necessary)
 
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Assuming you have experience repasting desktop chips, why not? You already appear to be comfortable opening and maneuvering inside a notebook PC.
 
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in most cases it's not the paste but the cooling system.

there are tons of threads where people are mad because they repasted their (for example: acer nitro 5) with kryonaut and it did barely dropped 2°C under load.

as long as it does not throttle constantly you're actually in a good spot since most laptops are garbage in a plastic shell these days.
if you still want to repaste... use paste that does not pump out and is sticky (i recommend the "new" arctic MX5 which is very sticky and does stay where it is even on a 400W GPU)
and do a manual spread the paste to cover 100% of the die.
 

therealczgamer

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in most cases it's not the paste but the cooling system.

there are tons of threads where people are mad because they repasted their (for example: acer nitro 5) with kryonaut and it did barely dropped 2°C under load.

as long as it does not throttle constantly you're actually in a good spot since most laptops are garbage in a plastic shell these days.
if you still want to repaste... use paste that does not pump out and is sticky (i recommend the "new" arctic MX5 which is very sticky and does stay where it is even on a 400W GPU)
and do a manual spread the paste to cover 100% of the die.
so I'm better off waiting for the cooling pad first?

Assuming you have experience repasting desktop chips, why not? You already appear to be comfortable opening and maneuvering inside a notebook PC.
Well, I don't have any experience with repasting whatsoever, but from the various tutorials I've watched, it seems doable enough
 
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A few things I can suggest are - firstly you should get a tray (magnetic one should be great) to store the screws, and secondly - take some pictures before unscrewing things out as that would help so much putting back together later after finishing the work.
I would say that it's worth it, plus remember to clean the fans and the vents out as well - then you should be good to go!
 
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so I'm better off waiting for the cooling pad first?
yeah i'd wait for it and look how it behaves.
i really don't think that repasting will do something.
 
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I agree with GerKNG. There really NEVER is a good reason to repaste UNLESS the cured bond between the heatsink and processor has broken. TIM (thermal interface material) does not wear out need regular replacing - or go bad even after 5, 10, 15 years or even longer, unless, again, the cured bond is broken.

If you "need" the few degrees a fresh application of new TIM might bring to keep from crossing over thermal protection thresholds, that means you already are too close to those thresholds and you have other, more pressing cooling issues to deal with first. These might include an excessive build-up of heat trapping dust, a failing fan, blocked cooling vents, an incorrect voltage/clocking setting, or incorrect BIOS fan control setting.

As GerKNG noted, there are tons of threads where users applied new TIM and it did not fix their overheating problems. Another big problem is users actually make the problem worse by failing to clean the mating surfaces, or failing to apply the new TIM properly. And worse, there are cases where the users failed to take the necessary ESD prevention precautions and they ended up destroying their processors. :(

I recommend you make sure all the vents are clear of dust, ensure the fans are spinning. If you made changes, reset your voltage and clocks back to the defaults. You could also blast a desktop fan across the laptop to see if that helps.

I also agree to using a cooling pad. Try to find one where the pad's fans align with the vents on the bottom of the laptop. And be sure the cooling pad has its own power source. No need to power the cooling pad via a laptop USB port and put additional demands on the laptop's power components.
 

therealczgamer

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Alright, I decided that I'll avoid repasting for now. Hopefully the cooling pad I've ordered is decent (Not like i had many other options, 17.3 inch cooling pads are pretty rare to see for some reason) and at least delays the throttling to the point where i can actually play the games for a bit. Thank you for your answers!
 
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17.3 inch cooling pads are pretty rare to see for some reason)
Part of that reason may be due to the fact most laptops are 15" or smaller. And then there's the fact lugging around a cooling pad, on top of the laptop, the laptop power supply, external drive, and perhaps an extra battery kinda defeats the "mobile" computer concept.

Also, it is important to understand, despite what the laptop marketing weenies want everyone to believe, there really is no such thing as a good "gaming laptop" or "desktop replacement" laptop. If you consider the fact even quality tower PC cases are challenged to keep the components inside properly cooled when heavily tasked, it is no wonder a tiny laptop case is just inadequate for the job. The problem is, laptop makers can pack the horsepower of PC into those tiny cases, they just can't build in the necessary cooling. They just don't have the Timelord technology. ;)
 

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Personally I put liquid metal on my i5-4210M, yeah I know that it's only dualcore, but it takes some load now for the fan to kick in. In basic internet browsing etc. it stays passive most of the time unlike with traditional TIM.

A cooling pad is a good solution, but repasting usually always works, especially if you can clean the cooler too.
 
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What do you mean, "if" you can clean the cooler?

Cleaning both mating surfaces is absolutely essential for a proper application of TIM - regardless the type being applied, or re-applied. One should never, as in NEVER EVER apply new TIM on top of old.

As for liquid metal, yes, it is good stuff but still, unless the cured bond with the old TIM was broken, you will typically only get a few degrees improvement. And as noted here, there typically is only a couple degrees advantage to LM TIMs compared to the best pastes - but without the risks - one of which is that it will destroy aluminum heatsinks.
but repasting usually always works
Ummm, no. It usually doesn't work. Yes, you typically will get a "few" degrees improvement, but that is not good enough if the problem is your temps are crossing thermal protection thresholds. That typically indicates greater cooling issues and then, a few degrees is not good enough.
 

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What do you mean, "if" you can clean the cooler?

Cleaning both mating surfaces is absolutely essential for a proper application of TIM - regardless the type being applied, or re-applied. One should never, as in NEVER EVER apply new TIM on top of old.

As for liquid metal, yes, it is good stuff but still, unless the cured bond with the old TIM was broken, you will typically only get a few degrees improvement. And as noted here, there typically is only a couple degrees advantage to LM TIMs compared to the best pastes - but without the risks - one of which is that it will destroy aluminum heatsinks.
I mean if the cooler can be easily removed and cleaned. You know that some laptops need you to disassemble the whole system to atoms before you can maintenance them. I said kinda funnily there as usually the whole cooler comes out if you can remove the CPU, dunno what I was thinking :D

And of course, both surfaces must be cleaned. And good advice there, never liquid metal to aluminium surfaces, though I can't even remember have I seen those on laptops.

edit: And for the last one, I mean if the laptop has several years of age and the original TIM has dried.
 
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if the laptop has several years of age and the original TIM has dried.
:( Sadly, that is an often spread, total misconception. TIM never has to be replaced, even if it has dried.

It is critical to remember 3 things. (1) The most efficient transfer of heat occurs with direct metal to metal contact between the mating surfaces of the CPU's integrated heat shield (IHS) and the heat sink. For this reason, the TIM needs to be applied in a layer that is as thin as possible, but still achieves complete coverage. Any excess TIM is in the way and actually counterproductive to the efficient transfer of heat.

(2) The purpose of TIM is to fill the microscopic pits and valleys in those mating surfaces, thus preventing any insulating air from getting trapped within. So again, any excess is in the way.

And finally (3). The only reason TIM comes in a liquid form is so it can be squeezed out of the tube and spread easily and evenly across the CPU die. The liquid component in TIM is just some inert liquid (an inactive ingredient, if you will), often some type of solvent to keep the TIM in a fluid or semifluid form. It does not matter if it dries out after it has been properly applied because the solids that remain behind are still doing their jobs filling those microscopic pits and valleys.

There is one assumption and that is that the two mating surfaces are smooth and flat (other than those microscopic pits and valleys). But with computer components (CPUs, GPUs, VRMs, and DIMMs) it is safe to assume they do not have curved/rounded or pointed surfaces.

Okay, two assumptions. The TIM is properly applied in the first place. A proper application implies the mating surfaces have been thoroughly cleaned of old TIM, dirt, dust, fingerprints and all other contaminants before applying the TIM. It also implies the heatsink is properly mounted and secured in place, and remains so.
 

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:( Sadly, that is an often spread, total misconception. TIM never has to be replaced, even if it has dried.
I need to disagree with you here. That's pure bullshit.


You speak much sense in overall, but that's pure nonsense.
 
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Gee, thanks for providing some sort of sound reasoning for your position. :rolleyes:

If you note the 4th line in my sig, I take heat in electronics seriously. And you can follow the link in the first line of my sig to see if I know a little or have a little experience with electronics. You can also check out The Heatsink Guide.

Then you can do your homework and use Google. See how many TIM makers report their products need to be replaced regularly, or when it dries. See how many CPU, GPU, heatsink, and computer makers recommend users inspect for dried TIM and to replace it when dry.

Now again, if the cured bond is broken allowing insulating air in between, then for sure, it needs to be replaced.
 

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Not going to argue with you as it goes nowhere.
 
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First of all, my laptop:
Lenovo L340-17IRH Gaming (81LL00F5CK)
Nvidia GTX 1650
Intel Core i5-9300HF
16 GB RAM
1 TB SSD
(from how many posts about the l340 i've seen here, it looks this laptop has really crappy cooling lol)

So i've had thermal throttling problems while gaming for a few months now, but it's only in the last 30 days where it got very noticeable.
Spent quite a lot of time trying to fix it, including messing around with throttlestop, cleaning the laptop's insides, changing all power related settings... Eventually i managed to get the CPU temps under control, but the GPU is still problematic: It reaches it's maximum temperatures of 87°C within 5 minutes in SOME games (others work fine and only really throttle after very long gaming sessions, despite being similar in graphical intensity) and then keeps itself capped at it's base clock speed until i restart the laptop. Now since i've already cleaned out the dust from the laptop, and apart from undervolting the gpu (which i didn't try because i don't really understand the curve editor) there doesn't seem to be much else that can be done about GPU temps, so i guess repasting is my last option here. (believe me, i tried every single software related solution i found)

Question is, will it actually be worth the effort? I will be getting a laptop cooling pad in a few weeks, should i just wait for that and see if it fixes the issue? or does this seem like an issue caused by the thermal paste or a different component?
Any feedback on this would be appreciated.
(i will send more technical details/logs if necessary)

Hey man, I was previously a laptop gamer myself and i've tried everything (on the cheap) to keep a leash on temps and noise levels.

Biggest culprit: Dust build up between the heatsinks fan casing and the vent. As soon as this pile of poop is removed, the laptop's crazy loud fan and temps are back to its glory days. I actually did this about once a year. Question is, when you say "cleaning the laptop's insides" are you also referring to removing the heatsink to access the internal side of the vent? If not, that's your most likely culprit. Same applies to the fan casing if dust is building up in there too.

Repasting: In my experience, no difference at idle but a 1-2c drop whilst gaming. Never ran stress tests.

Cooling pads: i've got 3 stacked up in my retired "thanks for your service" shelf. TBH, none of them made any significant difference.. at best a 1-2c drop in temps. I admit I did buy ~£20 cheapie ones hence not sure if there are more premium or newer offering which deliver a punch. Where it definitely helps is expanding the clearance between the lower panel of the laptop and the surface it's sitting on. If your intake is choked it will definitely help

Laptop Riser: If you're on the move and can't be bothered carrying another bulky piece of equipment (cooling pad), i always keep one of these in my laptop bag > https://www.amazon.co.uk/Adjustable...9Y2xpY2tSZWRpcmVjdCZkb05vdExvZ0NsaWNrPXRydWU= Oddly enough even without a bunch of fans from a cooling pad, these laptop risers on some of my laptops also saw similar performance drops @ 1-2c.... (not just laptop risers, previously i used to carry jenga blocks around so anything works really). If you end up with a Riser, be warned, the laptop sits stably if left untouched. I used to use external peripherals... mini mechanical keyboard and wireless mouse hence it worked nicely.

EDIT: just googled Lenovo L340-17IRH.... does this even have adequate airflow? I've never had a laptop which exhausts air upwards towards the display. All of mine either pushed air from the sides or the back. You've got 2 fans... so i'm assuming it was doing a decent job when purchased? For gaming you could definitely do with some added clearance from the floor as those rubber feet at the bottom of the laptop dont exactly give that desired uplift for easier air intake.
 
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therealczgamer

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Hey man, I was previously a laptop gamer myself and i've tried everything (on the cheap) to keep a leash on temps and noise levels.

Biggest culprit: Dust build up between the heatsinks fan casing and the vent. As soon as this pile of poop is removed, the laptop's crazy loud fan and temps are back to its glory days. I actually did this about once a year. Question is, when you say "cleaning the laptop's insides" are you also referring to removing the heatsink to access the internal side of the vent? If not, that's your most likely culprit. Same applies to the fan casing if dust is building up in there too.

Repasting: In my experience, no difference at idle but a 1-2c drop whilst gaming. Never ran stress tests.

Cooling pads: i've got 3 stacked up in my retired "thanks for your service" shelf. TBH, none of them made any significant difference.. at best a 1-2c drop in temps. I admit I did buy ~£20 cheapie ones hence not sure if there are more premium or newer offering which deliver a punch. Where it definitely helps is expanding the clearance between the lower panel of the laptop and the surface it's sitting on. If your intake is choked it will definitely help

Laptop Riser: If you're on the move and can't be bothered carrying another bulky piece of equipment (cooling pad), i always keep one of these in my laptop bag > https://www.amazon.co.uk/Adjustable...9Y2xpY2tSZWRpcmVjdCZkb05vdExvZ0NsaWNrPXRydWU= Oddly enough even without a bunch of fans from a cooling pad, these laptop risers on some of my laptops also saw similar performance drops @ 1-2c.... (not just laptop risers, previously i used to carry jenga blocks around so anything works really). If you end up with a Riser, be warned, the laptop sits stably if left untouched. I used to use external peripherals... mini mechanical keyboard and wireless mouse hence it worked nicely.

EDIT: just googled Lenovo L340-17IRH.... does this even have adequate airflow? I've never had a laptop which exhausts air upwards towards the display. All of mine either pushed air from the sides or the back. You've got 2 fans... so i'm assuming it was doing a decent job when purchased? For gaming you could definitely do with some added clearance from the floor as those rubber feet at the bottom of the laptop dont exactly give that desired uplift for easier air intake.
I didn't actually remove the heatsink while cleaning it(i assumed you have to automatically replace the paste if you do, guess i was wrong) so i'll do that soon.
To answer your other questions: yes, the laptop worked flawlessly for the first 6 or so months.

I tried adding some clearance under the laptop before to no avail, but I'll try it again. Is it ok if only the rear side of the laptop is elevated, or should i put something under the front part of the laptop too?
 
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I didn't actually remove the heatsink while cleaning it(i assumed you have to automatically replace the paste if you do, guess i was wrong)
No, you are right. You should not have to remove the heatsink to clean it. In fact, it is best to keep it mounted. You just need to expose it by opening up the case and/or removing access panel covers, then blast it clean with compressed air or a can of dusting gas. Use a wooden Popsicle/glue stick to hold the fan stationary. You don't want to see how fast you can make the fan spin because you can spin it faster than design limits and that can put undue wear on the bearings. And with the blades held stationary, you have better access to the heatsink fins for a more thorough cleaning.

You do have to automatically replace the TIM if you pull the heatsink as that breaks the cured bond. But if you leave the heatsink alone, you don't.

Also, if you leave the heatsink mounted, should you have a build up of static in your body, any discharge that might happen, will bypass the processor and go to ground through the heatsink - that's a good thing.

As a slight side note, ironically, some users have inadvertently broken the bond by twisting the heatsink just to see if it was loose. Unless the computer was bounced off the floor, the heatsink mounting mechanism is there to hold the cooler in place. If the mounting mechanism appears to be securely holding the heatsink, it is best to just leave it alone.
 
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I didn't actually remove the heatsink while cleaning it(i assumed you have to automatically replace the paste if you do, guess i was wrong) so i'll do that soon.

oops. Correction.....

Biggest culprit: Dust build up between the heatsinks fan casing and the vent. As soon as this pile of poop is removed, the laptop's crazy loud fan and temps are back to its glory days. I actually did this about once a year. Question is, when you say "cleaning the laptop's insides" are you also referring to removing the heatsink fan to access the internal side of the vent? If not, that's your most likely culprit. Same applies to the fan casing if dust is building up in there too.

To simplify further... removing the fans allows you to access the internal side of the heatsinks vent or whatever they call it. This doesn't require removing the heatsink. Once the fan casing is removed, you can blow air into those vents to clear any dust build up. I have a couple of anti-static brushes which help too. Also, once removed check the fan casing for any debris/dust build up. If you fancy a thorough clean, you can unscrew the casing but be careful not to damage the fans.
To answer your other questions: yes, the laptop worked flawlessly for the first 6 or so months.
It seems your heatsink vent is most likely the culprit. Also make sure the intake vents (on the base panel) are not blocked up with dust. If this doesn't resolve the issue I would then look to replace the paste by removing the heatsink. If you haven't played about with power/overclocking settings then most likely the software side of things are fine. Have you checked background processes (task manager) when gaming? Maybe something else is firing up and being a pain on CPU/GPU resources.

I tried adding some clearance under the laptop before to no avail, but I'll try it again. Is it ok if only the rear side of the laptop is elevated, or should i put something under the front part of the laptop too?

Leave this for now, it's just a nice perk for a small performance improvement (lower noise levels/thermals). You want to identify what the main cause is first. Once resolved, then you can test these other methods for that added cooling benefit (sometimes the results are negligible).
 
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I've known people that have repasted, temps dropped, they move the laptop around a bunch, a week later it needs to be repasted again. Sounds like a hassle, maybe better left alone.
 

therealczgamer

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oops. Correction.....



To simplify further... removing the fans allows you to access the internal side of the heatsinks vent or whatever they call it. This doesn't require removing the heatsink. Once the fan casing is removed, you can blow air into those vents to clear any dust build up. I have a couple of anti-static brushes which help too. Also, once removed check the fan casing for any debris/dust build up. If you fancy a thorough clean, you can unscrew the casing but be careful not to damage the fans.

It seems your heatsink vent is most likely the culprit. Also make sure the intake vents (on the base panel) are not blocked up with dust. If this doesn't resolve the issue I would then look to replace the paste by removing the heatsink. If you haven't played about with power/overclocking settings then most likely the software side of things are fine. Have you checked background processes (task manager) when gaming? Maybe something else is firing up and being a pain on CPU/GPU resources.



Leave this for now, it's just a nice perk for a small performance improvement (lower noise levels/thermals). You want to identify what the main cause is first. Once resolved, then you can test these other methods for that added cooling benefit (sometimes the results are negligible).
When i cleaned it, i did remove the fan and i'm pretty sure i cleaned the internal side as well (though not 100% sure)

Task manager doesn't report any background processes that could be taking up a lot of resources.
All i did was undervolt the cpu, so that shouldn't be causing any problems.
 
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imo in cases like this (when there is no apparent need to repaste, heatsinks are clean etc, but u re not getting good temps) is to provide some additional info, like the graphs of 20 min stress-test. Nothing fancy, just AIDA64 with every option selected. Thats the best way to bench the thermal performance, without getting any placebo thing or other stuff. Run it prior to changing the thermal paste to see how it goes, there is a screenshot of my potato office pc (i3 6100, R7 260X and gigabyte psu) 15 minutes at about 20C ambient in a closed case with 0 additional fans, just for reference.
 

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When i cleaned it, i did remove the fan and i'm pretty sure i cleaned the internal side as well (though not 100% sure)

Unfortunately dust tends to fill those heatsink vents hence you might wanna double check. A simpler way to look at it - the laptop breaths in air and then blows it out. You just need to check the entry points (intake), exiting points (exhaust) and any inbetweeners for any blockage/interference/etc.

I mentioned earlier, i've never had a laptop which exhausts air upwards (towards the display). My laptops always had a linear approach with pushing air out, usually on the side or from the back of the laptop. Looking at the Lenovo L340, it appears the exhaust vent is directly below the display with hot air being released from the heatsink, then circulating through a blue plastic channel and then exiting upwards towards the display. You'll want to check these openings for any obstruction. If you're like me, who eats a bunch of stuff whilst gaming lol, the explosive food remnants end up getting into all those small nooks and crannies.

In short:

1. Base panel mesh should be clear of any blockage for the fans to breath freely.
2. Fan exhaust opening should be cleared and make sure the fans are not hindered in anyway
3. Heatsink should be cleared of any blockage. With the fan removed you should be able to see through the heatsink fins.
4. The blue exhaust chamber should be cleared of any blockages/interference.

I'm just wandering whether that blue plastic part is easily removable for a quick and more thorough cleanup. Looking at the images, it seems another likely culprit could be the chamber itself with dust collecting on the inside and not visible to the naked eye. I wander if anyone else has experience with these types of laptops with a rather peculiar "upwards exhaust" configuration.
 

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UPDATE:
So i cleaned out the heatsink again and the cooling pad finally arrived...
The good news is, gpu isn't reaching the maximum temperature anymore. However, the issue still persists...
the cpu is still fine
GPU-Z only reports PWR as PerfCap reason

i'm really confused now...

imo in cases like this (when there is no apparent need to repaste, heatsinks are clean etc, but u re not getting good temps) is to provide some additional info, like the graphs of 20 min stress-test. Nothing fancy, just AIDA64 with every option selected. Thats the best way to bench the thermal performance, without getting any placebo thing or other stuff. Run it prior to changing the thermal paste to see how it goes, there is a screenshot of my potato office pc (i3 6100, R7 260X and gigabyte psu) 15 minutes at about 20C ambient in a closed case with 0 additional fans, just for reference.
here, hope i did it right
 

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