…while removing the clips for the stock AMD heatsink, the CPU popped out of the socket attached to the heatsink. I feared that this might have resulted in damage (it normally does), so I checked the CPU’s pins..but it didn’t. I got lucky.
Normally I move the heatsink in a left/right motion carefully to get it off (without snapping the processor out of course), but the heatsink clips on the motherboard were being difficult, so I held the clip that I opened first while trying to open the other one. I wasn’t holding the other clip as tight as I thought, tugged a little on it, and right before my eyes the heatsink propped up with the processor in tow.
The real problem was that I applied thermal grease. My computers tend to stay on for long periods of time, and this helps with cooling considerably. Unfortunately, it turned into a glue like substance, attaching the CPU to its heatsink. This was just one of those times where I got unlucky, and lucky at the same time (the processor still works).
For this reason (and several others probably), AMD included thermal pads on their HSFs instead of getting people to apply thermal grease. Its much easier, and the installation is “passive” – you don’t need to do anything for the extra cooling.