Best Thermal Grease For CPUs & GPUs
Best Thermal Grease For CPUs & GPUs

Remember, it’s important to choose the right thermal paste to keep your CPU working well. Thermal paste, also called thermal compound, fills in tiny gaps between the CPU and heatsink to help heat move away from the CPU. Using the right thermal paste is essential for preventing overheating and maintaining good CPU performance. As thermal paste gets older, it can dry out or wear down, which can lead to higher CPU temperatures and reduce performance.

When choosing thermal paste, think about factors like how well it conducts heat, how easy it is to apply, and how long it lasts. The right thermal paste will efficiently transfer heat, keeping your CPU cool even when it’s working hard. This not only helps prevent overheating but can also make your computer components last longer. Make sure to choose a paste that suits your needs, whether you have a high-performance gaming setup or a standard office computer.

How to Pick the Right Thermal Paste

Thermal paste is essential for any PC build or upgrade. This substance fills microscopic gaps between your CPU and its cooler, ensuring efficient heat transfer. Here’s what to consider when choosing the best thermal paste:

Types of Thermal Paste

  • Metal-based: Excellent thermal conductivity but can be electrically conductive, requiring careful application.
  • Ceramic-based: Good thermal conductivity and non-conductive for safe use.
  • Silicon-based: Common and affordable, offering a balance between conductivity and ease of use.
  • Liquid metal: The best thermal conductivity but challenging to apply and can damage some components.

Other Factors to Consider

  • Thermal conductivity: Expressed in W/mK (Watts per meter-Kelvin); higher numbers mean better heat transfer.
  • Ease of application: Some pastes are thicker and harder to spread.
  • Longevity: Some thermal pastes may degrade over time.

Popular Thermal Paste Options

1Thermal GrizzlyKryonautCeramic-basedGreat performance, easy to applySlightly expensive
2NoctuaNT-H1Ceramic-basedExcellent long-term stability, reliableMid-range performance
3ArcticMX-6Ceramic-basedAffordable, great for most buildsNot the best for extreme overclocking
4CorsairXTM50Ceramic-basedEasy to spread, included application toolMay struggle with high TDP CPUs
5Thermal GrizzlyConductonautLiquid metalExtreme thermal conductivityVery difficult to apply, can damage components

Important note: Liquid metal pastes should only be used by experienced PC builders due to their risk factor. Always check compatibility before application.

Key Takeaways

  • Thermal paste is essential for effective CPU heat transfer.
  • The correct thermal paste improves performance and longevity.
  • Selection depends on specific user needs and CPU requirements.

Understanding Thermal Paste

Thermal paste plays a vital role in maintaining the CPU’s temperature by filling air gaps between the CPU and its cooler.

Material and Composition

Thermal paste, also known as thermal compound or TIM, is a heat-conductive substance. Its job is to carry heat away from the CPU to the cooler. The materials used can be metal-based, ceramic-based, or carbon-based. For instance, metal-based pastes like Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut include liquid metal compounds and typically offer higher conductivity. Ceramic options, like Arctic MX-5, use compounds such as zinc oxide and are not electrically conductive, making them safer for beginners.

Conductivity Factors

Conductivity is key for thermal paste effectiveness. Metal-based pastes often lead in this area as they contain elements like aluminum or silver, known for superior heat transfer. Liquid metal thermal pastes have even higher thermal conductivity, which is the case with Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut boasting 73 W/mk. In contrast, non-metal pastes have lower conductivity but are more user-friendly as they are non-conductive and non-corrosive.

Viscosity and Application

Viscosity affects a paste’s ease of application. A thicker paste, like Gelid GC-Extreme, will stay in place but might be harder to spread. In contrast, a thinner paste will be easier to apply but might run if too much is used. An easy-to-apply paste provides a balance, ensuring efficient heat transfer without the risk of spilling onto other components. Proper application ensures the best performance of the thermal grease, whether you’re using a product like Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut or Nab Cooling NB Max Pro.

Choosing the Right Thermal Paste

When building or upgrading a computer, selecting the right thermal paste can significantly affect the system’s temperature management. This section will cover key aspects such as performance, value, and how to use thermal paste effectively.

Performance and Longevity

High-quality thermal pastes improve the heat transfer between the CPU and cooler, essential for maintaining the processor’s performance, especially when overclocking. Some products, like the Arctic MX-4 and Noctua NT-H1, offer consistent cooling performance over time. Premium options, such as liquid metal pastes like Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut, showcase superior thermal conductivity, measured in watts per meter Kelvin, achieving better results but with the added risk of being electrically conductive and potentially corrosive.

Price and Value

Thermal pastes come at different price points, often reflecting their performance, ease of application, and longevity. Budget thermal pastes, while affordable, may need more frequent re-application. In contrast, premium pastes last longer and provide better performance but at a higher cost. It’s wise to consider the price per gram and the total quantity providedÔÇösome pastes, like the Corsair XTM50, come with extra accessories like an application stencil and cleaning wipes, adding value.

Compatibility and Usage

Choose a paste that matches the types of components being used and the builder’s experience. Non-conductive pastes like Prolimatech PK-3 Nano Aluminum are safer and widely compatible with various CPU coolers and GPUs. For high-end PCs and intense gaming rigs, a high-viscosity paste may offer better performance. Thermal pads are an alternative solution, easier to apply with less mess, suitable for laptops and less powerful components. Checking specifications for electrical conductivity is crucial to avoid damaging sensitive computer components.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, you’ll find clear answers to some common concerns regarding thermal paste usage for CPUs. Each question aims to equip you with the knowledge you need to make informed decisions.

What factors should be considered when choosing thermal paste for a CPU?

Thermal paste selection depends on factors like conductivity, consistency, and durability. You should look for pastes with high thermal conductivity for better heat transfer. The paste should also be easy to apply and should last a long time without drying out.

Is there a significant performance difference between thermal pastes for high-end CPUs?

Thermal pastes can vary in their ability to conduct heat. For high-end CPUs, especially when overclocking, a paste with higher thermal conductivity can help manage temperatures better. However, the performance difference between many mainstream pastes is often minimal.

How often should thermal paste be replaced on a CPU?

Thermal paste should be replaced every few years, or when temperatures are higher than usual. Signs of drying out or poor performance are indicators that it’s time to apply new paste.

Are there any specific thermal pastes recommended for gaming laptops?

For gaming laptops, look for thermal pastes that are non-conductive and have good long-term stability. Some pastes are designed to not pump out from under the heat spreader, making them ideal for the tight confines of a laptop.

Can the application method of thermal paste affect CPU temperature?

The method of applying thermal paste can affect CPU temperatures. Too little paste can lead to hot spots, while too much can act as an insulator. Applying a small dot or line, depending on the CPU die shape, generally provides the best coverage.

Should thermal paste quantity be adjusted based on CPU model and size?

The amount of thermal paste used should correspond to the CPU’s heat spreader size. Larger CPUs may require slightly more paste. However, it’s crucial to avoid over-application no matter the CPU size, as this does not improve conductivity and may cause spillage onto the motherboard.

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