One approach starting with the heatsink. – Young Choi.
There a different ways to apply thermal compound on CPU or heat sink. This method gives me consistency for applying thermal compound.
Last year, I posted this way on free board of Overclockers Korea (In Korean)
I found a similar way at the review on PC Powerzone
Specially, this way is very useful for a person who is not particularly skilled, including me.
The following picture shows the preparations: Global Win CAK38, Cooloing Flow thermal compound, 3M Scotch Magic Tape, and a clean plate.
First, two pieces of the Scotch Tape are attached to both side of heatsink (Left picture). The center area must be larger than the contact area of CPU. Then, thermal compound is applied to the unattached center area. (Right picture) The weight of the applied the thermal compound is about 0.3 gram.
The thermal compound is spread with a clean, flat surface, such as a credit card, small ruler or an aluminum clip from a floppy disk. (Left picture). In this tip, a thick copper plate is used. Next, remove the Scotch Tape (right picture). What’s left is a uniform, thin layer of the thermal compound.
According to my experience, this way gives me two advantages: One is the consistency in applying thermal compound; the other is better performance with the same thermal compound.