You might already be aware of the fact that a CPU and GPU of a computer system generate a lot of heat…
…and the cooling fans in the system help keep the temperatures low.
Similarly, another effective method is used to cool down the processing units of a computer.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut – Best Thermal Paste of 2023
- Arctic Silver 5 AS5 – Made With 99.9% Pure Silver
- Arctic MX-4 – 8-Year Lifespan
- Noctua NT-H1 Pro-Grade – Best For Overclocking
- MasterGel Maker Nano – Ultra-High Conductivity
- Cooler Master Thermal Paste – (HTK-002-U1) – Excellent Value For Money
- GELID GC-Extreme – Best For Extreme Users
- Coollaboratory Liquid Ultra – Best in Liquid Metal Category
- Innovation Cooling Diamond 7 Carat – 5 Times Better Thermal Conductivity
- Innovation Cooling Graphite Thermal Pad – Best For Beginners
- Thermaltake TG-7 – Best for both CPU and GPU
It is by applying “thermal paste” on the processing units so it helps in keeping the temperatures low.
If you use your computer a lot, you might notice some fan noise, especially when doing any processor-intensive work. That is because the computer is trying to cool down the graphics cards and processors, so it doesn’t lag and performs optimally.
This guide will list the best 11 high-quality thermal compounds you can get to improve and increase the lifetime of your computer.
Generally, CPUs and GPUs come with pre-applied thermal compounds but are usually a bit old. Therefore, it is recommended that you should know how to apply thermal paste by yourself once you set up your gaming/computing station.
You must reapply thermal paste once a year as once it dries out, it becomes less effective. Not applying thermal paste can cause your CPU to heat up and affect the overall performance.
Top 10 Best Thermal Pastes/Compounds in 2023
Thermal pastes come in two different forms:
- Conductive Pastes
- Non-Conductive Pastes
The inferior one among these is the non-conductive thermal compounds which include zinc and silicone thermal greases.
Alternately, the superior ones are the conductive thermal compounds which include copper, silver, and aluminum-based pastes.
However, these can induce electrical shorts if applied to electrical pathways on the circuit board or the microprocessor’s pin.
Therefore getting the best thermal compound is essential to keep your gaming laptop or gaming pc performing well and at lower temperatures.
So, without any more wait, let us look at the best thermal pastes for your CPU/GPU that you can get in 2023.
The Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut is one of the best thermal pastes/compounds in the market right now that you can get for your CPU.
This product is specially designed for professionals and extreme gamers who use their computing systems and want to get the most out of them.
It has no conductive power, making it ideal as a thermal compound.
This ultimate compound provides excellent cooling performance and restricts the CPU/GPU from overheating or even overclocking. It is the most thermal conductive compound at 12.5W/mK, so you don’t have to worry about it conducting electricity.
Not only is it easy to apply, but it also does not require any settling time. It also provides a 3 to 4 degrees lower temperature than its competitive market rivals.
Overall, when it comes to performance, this thermal compound does not compromise at all. It is ideal for users who want the best and ultra-high performance. It also has one of the best and high thermal conductivity of any non-conductive thermal paste.
Arctic Silver Inc. is a US-based company that makes thermally conductive compounds for various electronic components. Since 1999, it has proven to be one of the leading companies in this particular sector.
The Arctic Silver 5 AS5 is no exception to its well-engineered products.
The compound consists of 99.9% of pure micronized silver, which helps to efficiently control the high temperatures of the CPU even when performing a very power-intensive task. Another advantage is that it also contains sub-micron zinc oxide.
Although it primarily consists of silver, it is still a ceramic-based compound. Therefore, the manufacturers recommend that you do not spill it onto other components.
Another important thing you must remember about this compound is that it takes some hours to burn in. Therefore, you might not see the results right away. You should let it settle in for a while before it starts its cooling process and decreases the overall temperatures by around 5 to 12 degrees.
Except for the settling time required to start the cooling process, it is an excellent choice as a thermal paste. It might be a bit tricky to apply, but it works like a charm once done.
In a nutshell, it is perfect because of its silver properties and high-end performance. Also, it’s one of the best liquid metal thermal pastes you can get.
Arctic MX 4 is a very successful thermal compound because it is inexpensive and easy to use.
It does not have any electrical components. Hence, you don’t have to worry about it conducting electricity and short-circuiting or damaging the CPU while applying it. However, it is better if you clean it after the application anyway.
The silver particles that make up this compound are the reason why it is so durable, and the advertised lifespan is of an astonishing eight years.
Another highlight of this long-lasting thermal paste is that it does not require settling time. The moment you apply the adhesive, you are good to go. You will see an immediate drop in the temperature and an improved overall performance as well.
On the negative side, this thermal compound is unsuitable for overclockers. If you are a person that likes to test the limits of a computer, you have to choose some other thermal paste.
Ultimately, it is worth considering the thermal conductivity of 8.5 W/mK and not costing much for 4 grams. The best thing about it is the 8-year lifespan; specs like this attract most gamers.
We found that the thermal paste pre-applied to our liquid cooler wasn’t doing a good enough job.
So I decided to go with the Arctic MX-4 paste, which is cheaper and has an excellent reputation. Upon removal of the old thermal paste, I found that the copper plate was covered in what looked like a dried-up old layer of thermal paste.
After applying some Arctic MX-4 and reassembling everything, guess what? It ran significantly cooler.
Noctua is known for making quality air cooling solutions for almost any system, and the Noctua NT-H1 Pro-Grade is one of the best thermal compounds for overclocking.
It is perfect for computing enthusiasts who like to cross the limits of their CPUs or GPUs, as it keeps the system cooler by up to 2 degrees.
This thermal paste is ideal for beginners who do not have much experience in doing such sensitive tasks. It is comparatively thicker and drier when compared with other similar thermal compounds.
Moreover, one application of this paste on the CPU or the GPU lasts for about five years, if not more, and its shelf life is about three years at room temperature. Therefore, not only is it cheap and easy to apply, but it is also considerably durable and effective.
Also, cleaning it again is an easy task once it is time for you to reapply. All you need to do is wipe the paste off the CPU and the heatsink with any paper towel or dry tissue.
Then wipe both of these components clean with the help of a towel or a damp tissue. There is no need for alcohol or any other solvent to clean it!
As far as the settling time is concerned, there is absolutely none! You will start noticing the difference in the temperature as soon as you apply it.
However, as it is a cheaper paste, the quantity that it comes with is also a bit less at just 3.5g. Moreover, there have been reports of quality control issues for some users too!
Nevertheless, it is still an exceptionally good-performing thermal paste, especially for overclocking. It is very easy to apply and remove!
The uniquely designed MasterGel Maker Nano provides excellent cooling even when computing at maximum potential.
The nanodiamond particles that make up this compound are maintained through a range of temperatures, from between -50 to 150 °C. Not only are these durable, but they can also get into tiny places for better conductivity.
Despite being a bit older model, it still works like a charm. You must also consider that it has a burning time. Therefore, you need to wait for it to settle once you apply it. Once it is ready, you can notice an immediate drop in the overall temperature of the CPU/GPU.
It also comes with a CPU cleaner in the box for further convenience. The cloth helps clean the internals to apply the thermal compound.
It is a very versatile compound that is ideal for various components and is easy to use. So, if you are a beginner, this is a commendable choice, without a doubt.
However, it is a bit expensive compared to other thermal compounds, which is a setback to this excellent paste. Moreover, it has a shelf-life of just two years.
Other than these setbacks, it performs exceptionally well and is well worth the money. It comes within a $20 budget, but the nanodiamond particles and thermal conductivity of 11 W/mK make up for it.
Cooler Master Thermal Paste features silicone-based material, which levels up the cooling system at an incredible price.
Thanks to this paste’s versatility, it is suitable for various components such as CPUs, GPUs, VGA cards, motherboards, chipsets, and much more.
It is easy to apply, even for users with no or minimal experience. Its unique applicator spreads smoothly and evenly all over and gives the cooling effect required for the optimum level of performance.
For further assistance, it comes with a card-shaped spreader and some sticker templates as well to assist you in applying the thermal compound without any mistakes.
It helps to maintain temperatures around 60-65 °C, making it perfect for intense gaming or processor-intensive work such as video editing and rendering.
Contrastingly, similar to the MasterGel Maker Nano, it also has a shelf life of up to 2 years.
However, users often report that it needs changing and re-application after about just one year. It also has only 2 grams of paste, which might be adequate for a new user, but not for some who work or plays professionally.
Besides these few setbacks, it still has an excellent value for money, costing less than $10. It is cheap, and its application is easy.
Hence, it adds to our list of the best thermal paste in 2023.
The Gelid GC-Extreme is perfect for extreme uses.
This thermal paste delivers superior heat conductivity from the CPU or the GPU. It comes with thermal conductivity of 8.5W/mK, and the operating temperatures range from -45 to 180 °C.
This thermal compound is not electrically conductive at all. Hence you don’t need to worry about frying your computer if some of it drops on the motherboard.
It is non-toxic and non-corrosive and doesn’t cure. Therefore, cleaning is relatively easy when the time for re-application comes again.
Although it is not electrically conductive, it still conducts heat very well. Hence, all you need to do is apply it and see the wonders happen.
However, there are a few drawbacks; for instance, it sets you back by around $20 for just 3.5g. It is not as good for overclocking as it is otherwise. It might also corrode aluminum at times, despite it being non-corrosive.
Other than these setbacks, it is still an excellent performer and comes with a handy spreader!
This thermal paste will not disappoint you if you are a beginner willing to spend between $15-$20.
The Coollaboratory Liquid Ultra is one of the best thermal pastes/compounds in the liquid metal category.
It’s 100% metal, and the liquid is so dense that it gives an excellent 38.4W/mK thermal conductivity. It can effortlessly transfer heat to the heat sink from the CPU, even through rough sessions.
This thermal compound is very gooey, which makes it very simple to apply.
It also comes with a brush right in the box to further assist you in using this compound without damaging anything else. As it is gooey, you have more control and can prevent excess spillages on other components.
It can lower the overall temperature by a whopping 22 degrees Celsius, which is excellent considering its price.
If you look at the cons, there are a couple of them. Firstly, as it is 100% metal, it is highly corrosive. Therefore, it is suitable for nickel-plated copper only. You must not use it on aluminum.
Also, as it is vicious, you might have more control over it, but it is still challenging to apply to the components.
According to Performance-PCs, AMD CPUs use a Zinc-coated Copper Heat Spreader and therefore are perfectly safe to use.
It works like a charm, especially for a thermal paste that costs just over $10. It does not have any curing time, and it is also shipped with a cleaning kit.
As the name suggests, the Innovation Cooling Diamond 7 Carat comes with crushed synthetic diamonds.
They claim that this diamond-sprinkled thermal paste has five times better thermal conductivity when compared to ordinary silver pastes. It features a heat conductivity of 4.5W/mK and consists of 92% micronized synthetic diamonds.
Despite being such an effective thermal paste, it does not conduct any electricity. Therefore, you do not have to worry about short circuits in your motherboard. There are very few differences that you might find if you use the computer usually.
However, it keeps the temperature low by 7-8 degrees Celsius at extreme usage, which is terrific compared to others.
However, you must consider that it has a curing time of about 2 hours. It is still not as much as some other compounds, which work at their full potential weeks after application.
Also, the difference is insignificant at normal usage, costing over $10 for just 1.5g.
Conclusively, the micronized diamonds in this compound work well when the temperatures rise due to processor-intensive tasking.
The Innovation Cooling Graphite Thermal Pad is not a paste that you apply to the CPU or the GPU.
It is a much easier and user-friendly way to manage your computer’s or gaming console’s heating problems. It is not as good as the Innovation Cooling Diamond 7 but is perfectly fine for everyday usage with its thermal conductivity of 35 W/mk.
These are highly recommended for beginners as it does not require any skills to apply. It works similarly to a thermal paste, but instead, you only need to place this graphite thermal sheet on the processor and let it do the work itself.
They are non-conductive and do not make any mess during the application as it is in solid form rather than the traditional liquid thermal compounds.
The best part about this is that it is reusable. Therefore, it is the best option if you like testing things out. Moreover, there is no need to replace it once you have applied it.
However, despite being user-friendly and inexpensive, it is not as conductive as other high-end thermal pastes. Also, you need to precisely cut it down to fit the size of your processor, and it needs to be accurate.
Besides these drawbacks, it is the best option for an average user. It keeps the temperatures low and is a one-time investment of less than $10.
This is the best option if you are a beginner and want to solve heating problems once and for all.
Like the Innovation Cooling Diamond 7, the Thermaltake TG-7 uses diamond powder and comes with a thermal conductivity of 4.7 W/mK.
These diamond particles allow a better conductivity to improve the overall temperatures of the processor and help increase efficiency.
This thermal paste is known for its longevity. It comes with a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty and lasts for over five years after application if it remains untouched. Besides its long life, it also comes with a syringe and a spreader for easy application.
If you are an amateur and do not have much experience applying thermal compounds, this will not be a problem with the Thermaltake TG-7.
Moreover, it is as easy to remove as it is to apply. You can quickly remove the thermal paste with a damp towel or a cloth and reapply whenever necessary. Also, it does not cure much nor crack, thanks to its conductive properties.
The bad side? It’s not that bad at all. Except for the fact that it does not perform as well in highly high-performing computer systems, it is wonderful.
In a nutshell, the ease of application and the supporting items that come along make this a worthy rival for other thermal compounds. The best thing is it costs just over $5 and comes with a 1-year warranty!
Many people do not understand the importance of keeping the temperatures of your computer system low.
It helps increase the efficiency and the overall life span of the processor.
Generally, people who know about these thermal compounds get them. But still, they do not get the “best” one according to their needs.
There are some key factors that you need to keep in mind when choosing the best thermal compound. These may vary from person to person.
However, there are around four essential aspects that you need to keep in mind. These are density, volume, storage time, and thermal pastes/compound types.
For your assistance, I have divided this buying guide into four subsections which cover the essential aspects. Then, there is a fifth bonus point for some extra things that you might have to consider.
As you might already know, in simpler terms, density is the thickness of a substance.
You might wonder how vital density is when choosing the best thermal compound. Well, it is pretty simple. The denser the thermal paste is, the better it will work. They are thick and gooey and conduct heat much better.
If you are a beginner, you should use a less-dense thermal compound. They are easier to apply as compared to dense ones. If you are a professional and like to take things to the max, you should go for a thicker thermal compound. It will conduct more heat and help keep the temperatures low.
Volume is another vital factor to consider when buying a thermal paste. It is directly related to how much your usage is.
If you want to apply the thermal paste on your Intel & AMD CPUs, you should go for a thermal compound with a lesser volume. On the other hand, if you work on multiple projects, you have to choose one with more volume.
Some of you might wonder why you shouldn’t buy one and reuse it later if it is leftover? The answer is straightforward. You can not use the same thermal compound once it has been opened and used.
Typically, these thermal pastes expire a couple of months after they are opened. However, a single application on a component lasts for several years.
In a nutshell, the paste is useless in a few months once the container opens. Therefore, you need to buy only as much as you require. Typically, half a gram is adequate for personal use on a single project.
If you have multiple projects, a total volume of 3.5g-4g is what you are looking for in the paste.
If you are confused about how much Thermal Paste I should apply to my CPU, then you should read this guide by Gamers Nexus.
Many people keep extra stuff lying around, so they do not have to rush to get them at the last minute. Similarly, if you are the same type of person, you need to see the storage time before considering keeping one at home.
It is highly recommended that you keep a paste with a storage life of at least two years.
Also, if the compound dries out, it loses its cooling properties. Make sure you do not add a dried-up paste to the processor, as it can severely damage it.
As I mentioned earlier in this article that there are two main types of thermal compounds:
- Conductive Pastes (Silver, Aluminum, Copper, etc.)
- Non-Conductive Pastes (Ceramic, Silicon, Zinc, etc.)
You need to choose the type of thermal paste you need very carefully. Commonly, conductive compounds are a better option, but it is still entirely your choice.
To help to choose the best type, here are a couple of Pros and Cons of conductive compounds:
- More durable than non-conductive pastes.
- Slightly better performance than non-conductive pastes.
- These are more corrosive.
- Comparatively more expensive.
On the other hand, non-conductive compounds are cheaper and non-corrosive too. They do not perform as well but get the job done for an average joe.
- Ease-of-Use: If you are a beginner, you must see how easy it is to apply the thermal paste and whether it includes and helping materials too or not.
- Clean-Up: Although the re-application of thermal paste takes place after years, it is still essential to consider how easy it is to clean it so that you can apply the paste once again.
- Reviews: READ THE REVIEWS! Users reviewing how well the product works helps when choosing the best one.
- Lifespan: For obvious reasons, you need a thermal paste that will last longer and keep things cool without changing it every once in a while. Hence, notice the thermal compound’s lifespan before choosing it.
- Price: Though not much significant as they all cost less than $20, it is still worth considering along with other factors. You have to spend on something worth the price. You need to get value for the money that you give.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is thermal paste needed?
Thermal paste does more to keep your computer system up and running than you can imagine. You must apply the thermal compound on the CPU or the GPU to prevent them from overheating and causing any problems. It also helps to increase the overall lifespan of your processors.
Is thermal paste better or a thermal pad?
Thermal pastes perform much better than thermal pads. They are ideal if you have a gaming setup or do processor-intensive tasks more often. Thermal pads, on the other hand, are good enough for everyday usage. They are user-friendly, very easy to apply, and do not need to be changed every few years. In a nutshell, if you are an average user, go for a thermal pad. If you are more of a professional, choose a thermal paste.
How often should you reapply thermal paste?
Re-application of thermal paste depends on your usage. Typically, it is recommended that you remove the older paste and reapply the newer one every couple of years to keep the PC running in optimum conditions.
How long do unused thermal pastes/compounds last?
Typically, unused thermal pastes last for approximately three years. However, if you properly store it, it can last for around five years, if not more.
Can you reapply the same thermal pad?
Thermal pads can reapply if the need arises. There is no harm in it. However, keep in mind that thermal pastes can not reapply. It will do more damage to the CPU than it will do good. Therefore, thermal pads exceed in ease of use and durability compared to thermal pastes.
As you now know how vital a thermal compound is, ensure you get one of the best thermal pastes listed in the article.
Apply them carefully to your CPU Air Coolers, AIO Liquid CPU Coolers, Laptop Heatsink Coolers, and GPU Coolers, and see the magic happen as the temperatures decrease and performance increases.
Also, remember the essential factors before you spend your money on one. You don’t want to waste any of it!