So after my last post about the nut roasting heat of my MacBook Pro, I decided to go for it and replace the thermal compound on the inside of the machine. To my horror, I too found the nasty giant globs of the stuff...
Notice the big globs on the heat pipe at both ends (the Core Duo is on the left, Northbridge in the middle, and ATI graphics on the right). It's so mind boggling to me that Apple works so hard to design a solid product, then overlooks something like this.
Does it make a difference? Huge! I cleaned the surfaces with camera lens tissues, then I replaced the crap with a very thin coat of Arctic Silver Ceramique on each chip and reassembled the laptop. Pegging the CPU cores with some 720/60p QuickTime encoded with H.264, the bottom of the laptop got warm, but not burning hot like it used to. The little strip between the keyboard and screen doesn't get hot either. The warmest spot remains near the power connector while plugged in. What an enormous difference. The fans aren't cranked up either, as far as I can tell.
And I had no screws left over, and I didn't lose any either in reassembling the computer. :)