Which thermal paste for CPU is best?
While the very idea of putting paste inside an expensive and custom-made PC would seem like absolute lunacy to the uninitiated, the use of thermal paste can have a significant impact on how well your computer can take the heat. If you have any ambitions of creating an overclocked machine, the use of thermal paste will become essential to avoid any expensive meltdowns, literal or metaphorical. With a steady hand and meticulous attention to detail, the Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut will help you build the overclocked gaming rig of your dreams.
What to know before you buy a thermal paste for CPU
Keeping it cool is key to performance
Creating a PC from scratch can be an exhausting and complex process even for experienced users and thermal paste makes the entire process that much easier. For those unfamiliar, thermal paste or thermal interface material is a compound substance specifically designed to improve the amount of thermal energy being transferred from your CPU to the heatsink by closing gaps in the metal. By doing so, you will prevent your valuable components from experiencing performance issues or physical damage, depending on just how overclocked your system becomes.
Overclocking greatly improves your PC
Overclocking your PC means you have effectively forced your CPU to consistently perform at the upper levels of its capabilities, which effectively gives your PC an upgrade without spending any extra cash. However, it is worth noting that not every CPU can be overclocked, and those that are run the risk of component failure due to heat damage and excessive voltage. While thermal paste can make the process much more efficient, any overclocked components will need to be replaced sooner due to being pushed beyond their typical limits.
You must be fairly dextrous and scrupulously clean
In addition to only requiring a pea-sized amount of thermal paste to achieve your desired goals, any excess liquid metal could potentially ruin your entire PC by causing electrical shortages in your motherboard or other components.
Furthermore, you only use the provided “spudger” tool to handle the thermal paste and your CPU, as any foreign particles could make the paste effectively useless. Believe it or not, even a single fingerprint could lead to you needing to replace your entire computer, so think long and hard before attempting to overclock the PC that has all your most important data.
What to look for in a quality thermal paste for CPU
Metal thermal paste is best for CPUs
For anyone considering purchasing some thermal paste, it is essential to know which type of paste you are buying and whether it will be ideally suited for your needs. To clarify, there are many types of thermal paste, including those based on carbon, ceramic, graphite, silicone and liquid metal. In the specific application of thermal paste to close gaps and improve heat transfer, compounds made from liquid metals like copper, silver and gold are the best.
Doesn’t need to be replaced and reapplied for several years
If you are meticulously applying thermal paste, which runs the risk of potentially frying your system if placed incorrectly, you don’t want to be disassembling and reassembling your PC for reapplication every few months. Because you should never apply fresh thermal paste on top of any already used, it should last for at least 3 to 5 years before needing to be removed and reapplied.
Useful on a wide variety of components for PCs and other devices
You can use the thermal paste to improve the performance of other heat-sensitive electronic devices. Thermal paste can increase the heat transfer abilities of popular gaming consoles like the PlayStation 4 and 5 or the Xbox One, S and X. If you’re worried about potentially bricking your beloved console, many thermal pastes come with syringe-type applicators for maximum control and any spills can be addressed with a dry tissue or paper towel.
How much you can expect to spend on a thermal paste for CPU
Depending on the type of metal used and the number of grams of product, the thermal paste can cost anywhere from $7-$39, and sometimes more.
Thermal paste for CPU FAQ
When should I reapply thermal paste to my PC?
A. Unless you happen to be removing and reinstalling either your heatsink or your CPU, you can likely leave any reapplication until then.
Do I really need to apply thermal paste to my PC?
A. Unless you feel like your PC could use a significant upgrade to its to process complex data and graphics for pennies on the dollar, feel free to avoid using thermal paste. However, if you’re spending the money on a custom PC, you should consider purchasing some protection.
What is the best thermal paste for CPU to buy?
Top thermal paste for CPU
What you need to know: This thermal paste is excellent for PCs and electronics of all kinds.
What you’ll love: This product offers excellent stability and high thermal conductivity even over extended periods and is capable of application on the CPU Cooler, GPU Cooling or heat dissipation rib plates and comes with a convenient syringe applicator.
What you should consider: Users have reported issues with being incompatible with aluminum applications as well as fried PCs.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top thermal paste for CPU for the money
What you need to know: This is an affordable thermal paste that still delivers quality performance.
What you’ll love: This product is made from 99.9% silver liquid metal and does not provide any electrical conductivity, making it ideal for improving the flow of hot air from your CPU to your heatsink, can be applied and removed easily and will not separate, run, migrate or bleed.
What you should consider: Users have reported issues with the thermal paste not dropping temperatures as advertised and not providing many applications.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: A highly-awarded thermal paste that won’t corrode your precious components.
What you’ll love: This product offers between 9 to 60 applications with of thermal past that is non-conductive and non-corrosive, can be easily cleaned up with everyday household paper products, lasts for up to 5 years when used on a component and is shelf-stable for up to 3 years when stored correctly.
What you should consider: Users have reported issues with receiving less product than they originally purchased as well as not fully mitigating temperature.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Daniel Martin writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.