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Thermal paste refers to a conductive compound intended for application between the cooler’s heatsink and the CPU. It works by keeping away air gaps and hastening the rate of heat transfer between the cooler and the CPU. We highly recommend investing in a high-quality thermal paste if you want to get the best out of your CPU in regards to thermal performance. Different thermal paste brands are available for this purpose. If you have no idea about which can serve you well, here are five of the best thermal pastes that you should consider in 2018.
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Arctic MX-4 is one of the most popular pastes in the market today due to its impressive thermal performance and friendly price. The paste is grease-based and includes carbon microparticles, which produce high thermal conductivity (8.5 W/mK). It does not have any metallic particles, so you don’t have to worry about electrical conductivity issues. As such, you can be sure that the performance of the paste will remain the same over time. Regarding price, Arctic MX-4 is quite affordable coming in at just over 6 dollars for every 4 grams that you get.
This paste comes in a syringe design that makes the application process easy. As soon as you apply the paste, you can set the cooler since it does not need any settling time. The only downside with the Arctic MX-4 thermal paste is that it is not as effective if you are an overclocker. In this case, you will have to look for a stronger thermal paste to cover the extra workload caused by overclocking.
Noctua NT-H1 thermal paste typically comes with Noctua’s state of the art coolers. You can also purchase this thermal compound separately, and it does not disappoint in its performance. Noctua NT-H1 is a hybrid thermal compound – it has different microparticles that minimize thermal resistance and maximize stability in the long-term. The manufacturer does not provide NT-H1’s thermal conductivity rating, but its peak temperature of operation ranges between -50 – 1100C. These numbers are pretty impressive, especially considering NT-H1’s friendly price that is under 6 dollars. The only thing you may worry about is that Noctua NT-H1 is thicker and drier than most other thermal paste, though the application process remains to be simple without needing settling time. This product is ideal for overclocking given its outstanding thermal capabilities.
The Active Silver 5 comes in as an excellent option over the above-mentioned thermal compounds. It promises a slight performance improvement due to the presence of 99.9 percent micronized silver. Active Silver 5 was the best thermal paste at some point in the recent past before some other newer products came into the market. However, few other pastes can outperform Active Silver 5, which remains to be the most popular thermal paste preferred by overclockers and other PC enthusiasts around the world.
Despite having micronized silver, Arctic Silver 5 does not conduct electricity. Thermal conductivity clocks in at 8.7 W/mK according to the manufacturer, which puts it ahead of its Arctic MX-4 counterpart. On the downside, Arctic Silver 5 may take some time to settle into the CPU, meaning it would only start working several hours after application. Regarding price, it is around the 6-dollar mark, making it a worthwhile investment to take care of your CPU.
If you intend to push your CPU to the highest of its limits in regards to overclocking, then the Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut grease paste wouldn’t be a bad choice considering its cooling performance. It has a pretty impressive thermal conductivity of 12.5 W/mK being a grease-based paste. With this high rating, you can be sure that heat transfer between your CPU and the cooler will be at its maximum. Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut features a unique structure that works by preventing drying out at temperatures reaching up to 800C. In this regard, the Kryonaut outperforms even some of the best non-grease thermal pastes that overclockers go for all over the world. If you are a hardcore PC builder, this is one thermal compound that you must consider before making any purchase decision.
Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut comprises liquid metal and offers maximum thermal performance. This product is ideal for experienced extreme overclockers given its extraordinarily high thermal conductivity rating of 73 W/mK. With this rating, the Conductonaut edges out all the other thermal pastes mentioned above, making it particularly helpful in large-scale cooling systems. One thing to note is that Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut does not bode well with aluminum heatsinks due to the liquid metal, which causes damage besides leaving black stains.
This thermal paste can lower temperatures depending on various factors, including the heatsink, the cooler, and other components of the computer by more than 100. With a lower temperature, further overclocking of both the CPU and the GPU becomes possible to give a better and faster performance. All you need to do is be careful and precise during the application process, and it won’t disappoint.
Settling on the right kind of thermal paste can be confusing sometimes. It all boils down to the type of computer that you intend to work on, and the level of skill that you or anyone else doing the application has. We recommend avoiding the liquid-based pastes in general. If you are an inexperienced user, don’t work with metal-based pastes because they are dangerous. The liquid-based pastes contain metal bits in most cases, meaning that even the tiniest of spillage can fry your processor and void your warranty. You must suffer some damage from the slightest of mistakes. If you are new into the application of thermal pastes, work with ceramic-based and silicon-based pastes to reduce the risk of damage.
There is no difference between the two. They both refer to the same thing.
Thermal paste is essential in lowering the temperature of your CPU. Your CPU will most of the time heat up while performing demanding tasks like gaming and video editing. When it becomes too hot, it is likely to throttle, affecting the performance of your computer. Applying thermal paste will go a long way in alleviating this problem besides adding some time onto your computer’s lifespan. You should consider investing in a thermal paste if you are a serious computer user.
Thermal conductivity refers to the capacity of a substance to distribute heat across its surface. The most effective thermal pastes always ensure an even spread of heat, making it easier to dissipate at the bottom of the heatsink.
It all depends on the person. You can use an old credit card if you purchase a thermal paste without a spreader. Ensure that you coat the entire processor surface and for even spreading between the CPU and the heatsink.
More power circulates near the processor. For this reason, the thermal paste you use shouldn’t be electrically conductive to prevent a short-circuit. Any damage from short-circuiting will void your warranty if you are still covered by one.
Ideally, a pea-sized amount of thermal paste should suffice. Something like the amount of toothpaste you would give a toddler. Nevertheless, the amount shouldn’t be that important – you need to spread the paste evenly to facilitate the optimum dissipation of heat.
The stock thermal paste that usually accompanies CPU coolers is nothing compared to any of the ones mentioned in this roundup. If at any point you feel some heat on your processor, even at a low temperature, you should consider getting one of these thermal pastes. Application of these compounds does not only stop at PCs – if you are working on a laptop, you can visit an expert to replace the thermal paste for you. Different other options are also available besides the five products mentioned above, and depending on your budget and performance needs – you can make a choice between liquid-metal based or grease-based thermal pastes. Go for the liquid-metal thermal compounds only if little temperature differences matter to you. If that is not the case for you, go for the other option because liquid-based compounds are a bit trickier to work with and have a higher risk factor.