In this guide, we present to you the 11 best thermal pastes available now.
The Best Thermal Paste 2018
|Best Thermal Pastes 2018||Latest Price (Amazon)||Type||Electrically Conductive?||Thermal Conductivity|
|Gelid Solutions GC Extreme||Check Price||Compound Paste||Negative||8.5W/mK|
|Arctic MX-4||Check Price||Compound Paste||Negative||8.5W/mK|
|Noctua NT-H1||Check Price||Compound Paste||Negative||8.9W/mK|
|Coolermaster MasterGel Maker Nano||Check Price||Compound Paste||Negative||11W/mK|
|Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut||Check Price||Compound Paste||Negative||12.5W/mK|
|Coollaboratory Liquid Ultra||Check Price||Liquid Metal||Positive||38.4W/mK|
|Arctic Silver 5||Check||Compound Paste||Positive||8.9W/mK|
|Coollaboratory Liquid Pro||Check Price||Liquid Metal||Positive||82W/mK|
|Phobya LM||Check Price||Liquid Metal||Positive||40W/mK|
|Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut||Check Price||Liquid Metal||Positive||73W/mK|
Thermal Paste Comparison
Love it or loathe it, the fact remains that any good cooling system is only as good as its weakest link allows it to be. More often, rather than not, the one link in the chain to proficient cooling that often gets overlooked is a good thermal conductor, one that would normally find purpose in being sandwiched between your cooler heat-sink and processor lid. If you’re running a slap-on liquid cooling system and still see standard-clock temps you can cook an egg on, you’ll probably want to take a second look at your thermal paste.
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Thermal paste Review – Gelid Solutions GC Extreme
The GC Extreme might have one of the lowest thermal conductivity ratings on this list, but it is the ideal thermal compound to be found. Its real-world performance is on par with the Kryonaut while being accessible at a much lower price point, and it ticks all the boxes on the list that defines the perfect thermal compound.
- The GC Extreme’s composition is rather unique, the contents of which are rather hushed. At 8.5W/mK of thermal conductivity, the specially engineered compound somehow delivers temperatures on par with those observed with the Kryonaut, which boasts a thermal conductivity rating of 12.5W/mK.
- The GC Extreme is not electrically conductive, easy to clean off if spilled and is incredibly easy to apply, due to the light consistency of its paste, making the whole installation processes a breeze for first-timers.
- The GC extreme’s been on winning builds in a few competitive overclocking arenas, and gets along great with liquid nitrogen cooling systems; although, it seems to really shine and have no trouble feeding your traditional cooler heat as fast as it can dissipate it.
- A great price point for its segment and performance.
- None what-so-ever!
Top Thermal paste – Arctic MX-4 Review
The MX-4 was created by Arctic Silver to succeed its extremely successful Arctic Silver 5 thermal compound. The MX-4 does not contain silver or other metals and as such, provides a slightly lower conductivity rating of 8.5W/mK; oddly though, the MX-4 often outperforms AS5 in tests and offers a much shorter “curing” period.
- The carbon-based compound offers great conductivity and is not electrically conductive.
- Soft and easy to spread without tears.
- Compatible with compression, nitrogen, liquid and air coolers.
- Extreme durability; Arctic Silver guarantees, at least, eight years of effective use from a single application.
- Handles overclock temperatures with no signs of stress.
- The Arctic Silver MX-4’s pricing seems to be a little higher than that of its competition and available alternatives.
Noctua NT-H1 Review – A Great CPU thermal paste
The Noctua NT-H1 was created to complement its liquid coolers but was soon adopted by many users for a wide range of coolers. Noctua created the NT-H1 with the aim of competing directly with Arctic Silver’s AS5, and as such, learned from Arctic Silver’s mistakes and progressed beyond them.
- The Noctua NT-H1 specifies a thermal conductivity rating similar to that of AS5, which is 8.9W/mK.
- Installation is quick and simple. Simply apply a pea-sized amount on to the middle of your processor’s heat spreader and then gently press your cooler into place until it sits tight above your processor.
- Noctua’s NT-H1 is especially known for its performance and incredible lifespan. One application will last you years of peak performance without the need for a change.
- Was designed to be extremely effective with liquid cooling systems and compressor cooling systems. As such, it’ll play nice with a liquid nitrogen or compressed cooling system if you choose to use it on one.
- There is, quite frankly, nothing to complain about as far as the Noctua NT-H1 is concerned.
Coolermaster MasterGel Maker Nano Review
That name might be a bit of a mouthful, but it hasn’t put off any of the top competitive overclocking teams from incorporating the MasterGel Maker Nano from their extreme builds, simply based on its positive presence and momentum alone. The MasterGel Maker’s managed to collect somewhat of a cult outside of the professional scene as well, attributed to its premium build quality and performance; the MasterGel features a unique composition that incorporates fine particles of industrial grade diamond, which gives it graphite-like conductivity at a much lower price point.
- With an 11W/mK conductivity rating, the MasterGel Maker Nano can contend with quite a few liquid metal products on the market.
- Incredibly soft and easy to apply! No electrical conductivity is a plus with the MasterGel as well.
- The diamond particles give the MasterGel an effective temperature range between -50c and 150c, which is perfectly suited to a liquid nitrogen or compressed fluid setup.
- Designed to endure liquid nitrogen cooling, but works great with traditional cooling as well.
- Nothing bad to speak off, as far as the MasterGel Maker Nano is concerned; great, a shining example of a modern thermal paste.
Grizzly Kryonaut Review
The Kryonaut is Thermal Grizzly’s contender to the competition overclocking scene. It does almost as well as some of the better liquid metal mixtures during heavily strained overclock sessions and is incredibly easy to apply, incredibly newbie friendly and incredibly easy to clean up. Once you set this baby in right, you can forget about it for years.
- Thermal conductivity rating of 12.5W/mK, and boy, does it know how to use it. The real-world performance impact on your temperatures can be compared to most liquid metal mixtures.
- Not electrically conductive! Got a bit on your motherboard? A gentle wipe and it’s gone, without worrying about any residue screwing with your expensive hardware.
- Simple, pressure friendly application. Apply a pea-sized amount and then slowly push the cooler down on to your processor heat-spreader. If you’d like to take a more hands-on approach, you can apply the Kryonaut to your heat-spreader and then gently smooth it out with the provided spatula.
- The Kryonaut was designed to withstand temperatures up to 300c, so it can easily put up with what your overclocking throws at it, but you’ll need adequate cooling, of course.
- Designed for extreme rigs based on liquid nitrogen cooling, the Kryonaut can withstand extremely low temperatures just as easily as it thrives on higher ones.
- The major downside to the Kryonaut is its premium pricing, which most often finds itself costing twice as much as the competition.
Coollaboratory Liquid Ultra
After basking in critical acclaim and success for its Liquid Pro liquid metal, Coollaboratory decided to make the technology more accessible to the everyday user, since liquid cooling solutions were becoming more and more accessible and desired. The resulting composite was the Liquid Ultra, which offered the conductivity and high-temp performance of liquid metal while being easier to install, with the lesser risk involved.
- Liquid Ultra has a conductivity rating of 38.4W/mK, giving it the capacity to transfer heat without problems during heavy overclock sessions.
- The Liquid Ultra was designed with ease of use in mind. The composite is more viscous than most liquid metals and the applicator brush supplied ensures that the application is quick and easy; one little spot of Liquid Ultra and a few brush strokes later and you’re ready to go, making for a simple application procedure that keeps installation simple and less accident-prone than conventional liquid metals.
- It’s got the capacity to enable you to push your liquid cooling system to its limit, due to how well it transfers heat at higher temperatures; ideally suited for those aggressive overclocks.
- As with any gallium based mixture; keep away from aluminum.
- Takes longer to naturally alloy with copper and other metals, but it eventually will.
- Like other liquid metals, it will solidify and expand if temperatures get a little too low, so liquid nitrogen is out of the picture, just as compressor based systems are.
Arctic Silver 5 thermal paste Review
For a considerable period of time, the Arctic Silver 5 was the standard thermal paste that had the loyalty of many builders, as the performance of the metal and oil compound was rather revolutionary at the time. Many years have come and gone, but the Arctic Silver 5 still holds a special place in the hearts of many, even with its few shortcomings.
- The Arctic Silver 5 does a rather remarkable job with conductivity, and given its age, it still holds up a formidable presence today. The Arctic Silver 5 features 8.9W/Mk of conductivity, which is on par with many newer thermal pastes.
- The Arctic Silver 5 features fine silver particles that provide a high thermal conductivity rate without the drawbacks of liquid metal.
- The Arctic Silver 5, although metallic, can be used with liquid nitrogen and compressed fluid setups, as the paste does not expand or contract once set.
- A simple and easy application makes the Arctic Silver 5 a great compound for beginners.
- The Arctic Silver 5 is marketed as a non-electrically conductive thermal paste but is capacitive due to the highly conductive silver that it contains. Leaving any of it stuck to your conductive junctions, such as exposed transistor connections or your socket pins will still leave them short themselves out.
- You’ll need to wait out two hundred hours’ worth of heat cycles before you’d be ready to run it with liquid nitrogen or a compressor.
- Arctic Silver claims that its Silver 5 requires a “curing” time that will supposedly give you lower temps once complete, although the significant change from this “curing” isn’t really noticeable. At most, the paste hardens over time to create a more stable fit between your heat-sink and heat-spreader. Weathering out those 200 hours to reap lower temps will leave your rather disappointed.
Coollaboratory Liquid Pro Review
The Liquid Pro from Coollaboratory just so happens to be the most conductive, consumer-level thermal paste on the market. The caveat here is that it simply is not for the faint-hearted or fresh-off-the-MacBook user. The Liquid Pro is 100% liquid metal, consisting of a gallium-based alloy.
- To put it simply, as far as performance goes, the Liquid Pro is the best there is. At 82W/mK, it outpaces all conventional thermal compounds and even boasts a large gap between most other liquid metal thermal mixtures.
- The Liquid Pro is perfectly content with moving the large volumes of heat that accompany high overclocks and does so with no signs of stress.
- Liquid metal does not settle nor change states when rapidly heated and cooled back down to room temperature, giving it an extremely long working life.
- Surprisingly easy to get your hands on. Smaller quantities can be picked up for relatively cheap prices.
- Works great with air coolers but you can get the most out of the Liquid Pro by pairing it with a liquid cooling system.
- If you haven’t any experience in applying thermal paste, give this one a miss. It’s like jumping on a liter bike with no concept of fueling; it will only end in a wet mess and an expensive mistake. Putting too much on will lead to a spill that will fry any exposed junctions, whereas applying too little will see you trying to replace it frequently because it simply will not conduct well. Going with another thermal compound until you get a good feel for application quantities would save you a lot of money and time on the cleanup, should something go wrong with liquid metal. If you aren’t planning on pushing clock limits, you’d get more value out of a non-liquid metal compound as well.
- Gallium does NOT play well with aluminum. If your cooler or heat-sink/spreader/cooling pipe(s) consists of aluminum or an aluminum-based alloy, you’re going to go from a rock-solid metal to a mushy mess in a day or two, should ever the twain meet.
- Another not-quite-so-understood property of gallium is that it will readily alloy with quite a lot of metals and alloys. This includes, but is not limited to copper. It also sucks that most heat-sinks are made out of copper. Over time, the gallium alloy will bond with the copper, which will create a gallium-copper alloy that will thoroughly test your resolve when it’s time to remove your cooler and clean the sink.
- Not recommended for use with liquid nitrogen cooling systems or compressor-based cooling systems as the metal will solidify and expand, rendering it rather useless. Gallium, by itself, will solidify at anything lower than 29c, but most liquid metal thermal mixtures on the market are manufactured to have a lower melting point.
Phobya LM Review
When Phobya decided to get in on the thermal paste market to complement their other cooling modules, they played it smart and took the time to work on their R&D. The resulting product put them in league with the best competitors on the scene; a highly coveted spot, not only for their thermal paste products but also their entire line of accessories and modules.
- Phobya LM, like most liquid metal mixtures, features a strong conductivity rating. At 40W/mK, Phobya LM will manage heat rather well.
- If overclocking floats your boat, so will the Phobya LM.
- 100% liquid metal.
- Designed for use with liquid cooled and overclocked systems.
- It’s a bit tricky to apply as the surface tension is a little stronger than that of water. Avoid if you have no experience applying thermal pastes as Phobya’s LM is electrically conductive as well.
- Not much info on the contents of the mixture, but gallium is present; avoiding contact with aluminum is vital. Bonds with copper, much like other liquid metal thermal mixtures.
- Mixture hardens and swells under low temperatures. Tends to get a little brittle and begins solidifying at relatively cool room temperatures, making application a little more tedious than it should be in certain areas. Not compatible with a compressor or liquid nitrogen cooling.
- Pricing is a bit steep compared to similarly performing products.
Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut Review
Thermal Grizzly’s been making quite the name for itself in the cooling solutions market. If you frequent computer expos, you might have come across some of their amazingly beautiful liquid cooling modules, which, as you may or may not have known then, would’ve featured Thermal Grizzly thermal grease under the sink. Thermal Grizzly’s quietly clawed out a place for itself at the top of the thermal paste market and asserted its dominance almost overnight. The Conductonaut is TG’s take on a liquid metal cooling mixture.
- The Conductonaut sports a high thermal conductivity that’s rated at a happy 73W/mK. It’s a lower rating than the Liquid Ultra, but it’s still way more than adequate for anything you can throw at it.
- Featuring a blend of metals, some that are liquid at room temperature and some not; Thermal Grizzly keeps the exact ratio and ingredient list a secret. This special blend gives the Conductonaut a little more consistency than other pure gallium or indium alloys, making application easier on the user.
- A high conductivity rating ensures that your processor and cooler will handle overclocking with efficiency. The Conductonaut can easily handle heat and quickly dissipate it to the cooler.
- Works great with air coolers but pairing the Conductonaut with a liquid cooling system will get you the most out of it.
- Since the Conductonaut contains gallium, you’ll want to keep it well away from your aluminum parts.
- The application is rather simple, but the mixture is still conductive and you’d need to keep it from interacting with anything that looks like it would carry a charge – other than the heat-sink or die, of course. Extra care is advised.
- Liquid metal mixtures do not work in specifically cold conditions, such as those associated with liquid nitrogen or a compressor based cooling system.
- Tough to clean off of most heat-sinks.
What is a Thermal Paste?
The thermal paste is a high heat-conductive compound and is best used when installing the CPU’s heatsink/cooler or for the Graphics card as well.
People are wondering why they need to put thermal paste first before putting on the heatsink as they can see that the cooler can be seated perfectly.
Unbeknownst to many, even when the heatsink is placed accordingly, it still leaves some microscopic gaps that can mean poor heat dissipation. Thus, leaving you with a hotter CPU that can get potentially damaged in the long run.
The thermal paste ensures that these microscopic gaps and imperfections will be eliminated by filling in those gaps. And, since the thermal paste conducts heat, it effectively dissipates heat off from your CPU or GPU and onto their coolers/heatsinks.
Thermal paste is also referred to as TIM, thermal compound, thermal gunk, silicon compound, heat sink paste, just to name a few.
There are three common types of thermal pastes: Ceramic, Silicon, and Metal
The metal thermal pastes are the most popular ones since it conducts heat better than the other two types. The major problem with metal thermal pastes is that because of its nature, it is also electrically conductive as well. Make sure that you apply the right amount of thermal paste if you happen to use this type of compound.
Another popular type of thermal paste is the ceramic-based ones. They are popular because they are nearly as good as the metal types, except that they do not conduct electricity. This is a good thermal paste for people who are still beginners when putting on heatsinks since spillage onto the motherboard will not pose problems since it doesn’t conduct electricity like the aforementioned type of thermal compound.
Lastly, the silicon-based thermal pastes are usually embedded on thermal pads that directly attach to either the heatsink or the processor. This is the worst performing thermal compound compared to the other types, but it still does its job at dissipating heat from the processor or graphics card.
Now that you know what a thermal paste is and its different types, I am now going to recommend some of the best thermal pastes on the market.
Applying the Thermal Paste: Which Method is the Best?
Now that you know some of the best thermal pastes on the market, it is now time for you to know how to apply it.
A lot of people make the mistake of putting a lot of thermal compound onto the surface of your CPU or GPU because they think this is the best way to go.
But, less is more when it comes to applying the thermal paste. There are a number of methods you can apply it, but which ones are actually the best?
Below are just some of the best methods you can use to apply the thermal paste:
Probably the most popular method when applying the thermal paste. Place a pea-sized amount of thermal paste on the IHS of your processor or graphics card and then mount your cooler.
Vertical Line Method
Used primarily on Intel CPUs, the vertical line method is done simply by squeezing a small amount of the TIM and then slowly drawing a vertical line (do not go beyond the surface of the IHS).
This method of applying thermal paste is where you will create a circle using the compound. Do note that the circle should be thin so as to not introduce too much thermal paste on the IHS.
Thermal Paste Tips
Always clean first before applying- The first thing you need to do before applying the thermal paste is to actually clean the surface or the IHS or Integrated Heat Spreader (that metal part that you see on the processor). Clean it using Isopropyl or Rubbing alcohol. Also, use tissue paper as it is a non-conductive material.
Less is More
As previously mentioned, less is more when it comes to applying thermal paste. The more thermal paste you put in, the crappier the performance since the excess thermal paste acts as an insulator. Therefore, it retains heat rather than dissipating it.
Too less is bad
On the other hand, too little thermal paste is also bad for your CPU or GPU. What is the recommended size, you ask? Just refer to the previous section as I’ve highlighted three of the best methods of applying the thermal compound.
When applying thermal paste, make sure that you do not spill over the paste to the other components on the motherboard. This is because some thermal pastes are electrically conductive and it can short other electrical components.
Thermal pastes generally last long. So, when do you need to reapply it? Well, you should reapply the thermal paste when you’re reseating or installing your cooler. Also, as a general rule of thumb, change the thermal paste at least a year after initial application.
Now that you’ve finally reached the article’s conclusion, I am pretty sure that you know the reasons why you will need a thermal paste.
As previously mentioned, your CPU/GPU cooler might not come into close contact with the IHS or the Integrated Head Spreader. That is because the cooler might have a concave or convex design.
Because of such designs, it leaves microscopic gaps that create problems with heat dissipation as these gaps create air bubbles that make hot air harder to remove.
That is where the thermal paste comes in. It fills in those gaps nicely and coupled with its heat conductive ingredients, is a perfect accompaniment to your cooler since it maximizes heat dissipation. Although there are a lot of thermal pastes on the market, I’ve narrowed down the best five so that you do not have to waste any more time scouring the internet for information about the best of the best.