How to Replace Silicone Thermal Pads on a GPU?

silicone thermal pads

GPUs run in poor conditions tend to build up gunk and dirt inside, which degrade silicone thermal pads and affect their ability to conduct heat from critical components such as the GPU die, VRAM, or power circuitry over time. This degradation decreases performance and causes crashes and even component failure if left unchecked. Using thermal interface materials like paste and pads is essential to their operation.

Games can be pretty demanding on a GPU but only run for hours at a time. Gaming PCs also have a single GPU and adequate airflow for the most part. In either case, replacing the thermal paste on a GPU die with high-quality options like silicone thermal pads can improve game performance.

Changing failing silicone thermal pads can significantly improve your GPU performance and solve many issues related to overheating components. Making sure to know when and how to change these pads is essential. Running your GPU in a clean environment with sufficient protection against dust and moisture can also reduce the chance of thermal pad failure.

1. Stress-test and benchmark your GPU

To set a baseline for your GPU temperatures, Test your graphics card with applications like FurMark. Log all the temperatures using GPU-Z or HWinfo. Also, run benchmarks like Unigine’s Heaven and record your scores.

2. Choose the right GPU thermal pad

The thickness of the GPU thermal pads is generally selected according to the design gap width of electronic components, and it is generally recommended to compress the thickness by 20% ~ 50% to be close to the gap thickness. For example, if the thickness of the gap is 1.5mm, a 2.0mm product can be recommended, because the 2.0mm thermal pads is compressed by 25% to be the same as the thickness of the gap. This thickness can ensure that the gap is filled without causing excessive stress. A thicker pad can damage the GPU PCB. If you still can’t find data online, you will need to order an assorted set of sizes and measure the thickness of your original pad with calipers during the process.

3. Ensure you have the necessary tools

Having the right tools for the job is necessary if you want to replace silicone thermal pads successfully. A pair of precision tweezers will also come in handy for removing fan connectors and peeling off old silicone thermal pads. Optionally you may want a caliper if you cannot precisely verify the original pad’s thickness.

4. Unscrew the heatsink from the PCB

Ensure your workbench and hands are free of dust and moisture and well-grounded to prevent static discharge (don’t work on a carpet). Identify and unscrew the screws surrounding the GPU die first (marked in the image) before moving on to other screws. Some cards, like Nvidia’s RTX 30 series Founder’s Edition, might have a different method of removing the heatsink, so we recommend following a good tutorial online videos for this step.

5. Organize your screws

Use a parts tray or organizer to ensure that you return a screw to its original location once done. Some screwdriver kits come with one, so make sure to use it.

6. Identify fan or RGB headers that may come in the way.

Depending on your GPU model, multiple RGB or fan headers may be used, and some of these connections can prevent separation. Locate them from the side and disconnect them for easy separation.

7. Separate the heatsink from the PCB

The GPU die tends to be adhered to the heatsink due to the thermal paste, so you may need to slowly rotate the heatsink and PCB in opposite directions for easy separation. If you do it right, the PCB should slide off gently. Be careful, as you can easily damage the PCB in this step. Take a picture of your GPU PCB and heatsink to know where each pad is.

8. Measure heat pad thickness

Measure pad thickness with an electronic caliper if you can’t get any information online. Using tweezers, peel a bit off and ensure that the thermal pad barely slides through the caliper arms for an accurate result. Do this for all silicone thermal pads. Make sure to assign the thickness of each thermal pad in the photo you took earlier.

9. Clean the GPU PCB

Using a can of compressed air, blow away any dust and grime from your PCB. Use a plastic spudger to carefully remove any silicone thermal pads on the GPU memory or MOSFETS located on the PCB. Give these components a good clean using a q-tip dipped in 99% isopropyl alcohol. You may also remove any old thermal paste and apply some fresh paste. Do not use any metallic tools in this step.

10. Peel off the old silicone thermal pads from the heatsink

Using a pair of tweezers, carefully peel off the old silicone thermal pads from the heatsink without damaging them. Use a kitchen towel dipped in isopropyl to remove any oil and residue left from the pads. Also, remove the old thermal paste if you plan to replace it. Do not discard the old heat pads yet.

11. Cut out new silicone thermal pads.

After verifying the thickness of your GPU’s silicone thermal pads, you can measure the length and width of the existing pads and cut out new ones. If the old pads are damaged, you can still find markings on the heatsink that can serve as a guide.

12. Apply the new silicone thermal pads

Apply the new silicone thermal pads using tweezers. Use the picture taken after separating the heatsink to guide you on where to apply fresh silicone thermal pads. Gently press down with a blunt tool if the pads don’t adhere.

13. Reassemble your GPU

After applying fresh silicone thermal pads, you can close up your GPU. Bring both halves close to each other and rejoin any fan or RGB connectors previously removed. Align the screw holes of the heatsink and PCB and press firmly with the fans facing down.

14. Screw the heatsink down

Going along the reverse order while unscrewing, screw the screws back into the heatsink, tightening screws around the GPU die to distribute pressure evenly.

15. Run benchmarks and stress tests to check for improvement

Attach your GPU back into your PC and run the same stress tests and benchmarks you ran at the start to compare results. If you are experiencing high memory temperatures or sudden shutdowns, you may have used a thermal pad of incorrect thickness or size.

If you would like to learn more about AOK performance thermal materials, please visit our website at

Updated on:2023-07-10 10:55:36
Please accept our cookies to get the best experience of our website.
By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.