I purchased an Intel NUC10I3FNH and wanted to change the thermal pad with metal oxide thermal CPU paste BUT 1-2 heatsink screw(s) is/are severely stripped after removing the fan. I didn't continue further. Has anyone ever seen this or was the screw purposely stripped so we can't change the thermal pad for paste? Or was I sold a used NUC by the computer store?
This certainly wasn't done on purpose. It looks like an over-torque. Regardless, you should not touch the thermal pad (other than to replace it if you pull up the heatsink and damage it). The pad is used because the dies are different heights. Using a gob of TIM on the lower die is going to make things worse.