To clean the processor, I use 91% isopropyl alcohol and coffee filters (lint free cloths). This makes for a clean, residue-free surface on which to apply thermal compound. I use this same method on the processor, which has been through several different cooler installs. By the lack of distortion in the reflection on the waterblock, you can tell that it is very flat, in addition to being mirror finished. This should make for ideal heat transfer.
I will be testing Arctic Silver 5 against the Liquid Pro here today. First, I will install AS5.
To install the AS5, I place a thin line down the center of the CPU. That is all the manual suggests that you do, expecting pressure from the cooler to spread the compound evenly. For most people, including myself, this is insufficient. While many people use “Q-Tips” or razor blades, those methods have never worked for me as well as the trusty old plastic bag does. I would use my finger to spread the compound, but not only will that give me the hated gray finger of doom, but also get grease on the processor, hindering cooling performance. As you can see, this method creates an even, thin layer of thermal compound.