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First apply some thermal paste to the processor. We won't really go into the different methods to installing paste but keep in mind that even coverage is important and too much can be bad (along with having too little). A tried and true method we use here in the Ninjalane Labs includes 5 small dabs of paste in the following pattern. When the heatsink is installed the dabs will even out to cover the entire processor.
Note: Some editors will tell you that you must spread the thermal paste as thinly as possible to ensure proper contact. This is good practice however it only works if you have lapped both the CPU and the heatsink. Another method that is thrown around quite often is a single dab or thin line down the middle. The problem with this method is that you have to be very exact in how much paste you apply since it is very easy to leave yourself short.
We find that 5 dabs is a quick, easy and rather foolproof way to install a proper amount of paste without going over.
If in case some of you are wondering how well the 5 dots method works here is what our coverage looks after the initial trial fit. As you can see the processor is not flat and the center is higher than the ends if you used a single dab or had spread your paste out evenly you would have a rather large gap in these low areas that will in turn affect heat transfer.
We hope this quick guide helped you understand the proper method for installing a processor, while this was written as a step by step guide keep in mind that while the methods are similar not all processors install the same way. Consult this site and your included documentation for further information.
Thank you and happy system building.