What to keep in mind
Cleaning a graphics card and replacing the cooling paste is not a rocket science, but it is important to pay attention to a number of things in order to minimise the risk of damage and/or failure.
To take your video card apart, you may have to loosen a screw somewhere that is under a warranty sticker. Such a sticker will state Warranty void if removed. Please note that the manufacturer's warranty on your card will expire if you remove this sticker. However, the legal warranty from the shop for a period of two years remains applicable. If you have a problem or defect on your graphics card that does not result from your own interventions, then the shop in question should repair or replace the card during the warranty period.
As with other components, it is good to pay attention to any static charge you may have yourself or which you may inadvertently cause. Especially if you use a vacuum cleaner to dispose of your video card or other hardware, you can build up a static charge. It is therefore advisable to always use compressed air and leave the vacuum cleaner (or dust buster) out of it.
New cooling paste
If you remove the cooling block from the graphics card, it is always wise to replace the cooling paste. Especially if the previous cooling paste has been on it for some time, it will have dried out quite a bit. This means poorer heat transfer if you reinstall the cooling block immediately. Cooling paste doesn't have to be expensive, as our Price Comparison shows. The amount you need to apply depends on the size of the chip and the cooling block. For most mainstream CPUs (and CPUs) there is a guideline of the size of a pea.
Mounting the cooling block
Once you have applied new cooling paste, the cooling block can be reattached to the graphics card. By far the majority of the cooling blocks are attached to the card with four screws, in order to distribute the load and pressure over the GPU. Most of the coolers are also designed in such a way that tightening the screws with normal wrist force provides sufficient pressure on the chip for a good heat transfer. However, it is important to cross-tighten the screws during installation, and not more than two turns per screw at a time. This prevents too much pressure from being exerted on one side of the chip, which may result in damage. And if you have disconnected the fan from the graphics card, make sure it is firmly attached again and the connector of the fan is reconnected.