What is Thermal Paste?

What is Thermal Paste?

Thermal paste is a thermally conductive compound that fills air gaps between heat sinks and heat sources.

This material aims to reduce the thermal resistance between these two components.

This allows heat to transfer from the source to the sink more efficiently and reduces overheating. So, in other words, it helps keep your computer cool and running smoothly!

Thermal paste is also used in many other applications such as electronics, refrigeration, and automotive engines – but for now, we are just going to focus on computers!

What is The Use of Thermal Paste in Computers?

Thermal paste is used in computers to increase heat transfer efficiency from the CPU to the heat sink.

In a nutshell, thermal paste fills up microscopic holes between the CPU and the heat sink, which helps to minimize or eliminate air gaps between those two components and maximize the heat transfer process.

What is a Thermal Paste Made of?

Thermal paste is made of metal or metal oxide, which means it can be considered a solid. But because its consistency is similar to toothpaste or petroleum jelly.

The paste includes zinc oxide and aluminum oxide particles suspended in a silicone-based fluid. The particles increase the thermal conductivity of the paste without causing any damage to your processor.

Thermal pastes are non-conductive and non-toxic, so you don’t have to worry about accidental spills inside your system unit.

Types of Thermal Pastes

You’re likely familiar with thermal paste if you’re an avid PC builder.

Thermal paste is a substance used to fill gaps between the CPU and the heat sink to take advantage of direct contact, which maximizes performance by helping the heat sink pull heat away from the CPU more efficiently.

The name can vary (thermal grease, thermal compound, etc.), but for now, we’ll call it “thermal paste.”

There are a few thermal pastes:

  • Thermally conductive adhesives
  • Thermally conductive pads or gap filler pads
  • Phase change materials (PCMs)
  • Traditional metallic-based greases

All are effective at filling small imperfections between surfaces while also being electrically non-conductive and non-corrosive. Here’s a breakdown of each type:

Thermally Conductive Adhesives

These uncured adhesives have high viscosity levels and come in two parts that must be mixed before application using several different methods (for example, syringe extrusion).

The result is usually a solid compound with good adhesive properties capable of resisting shear stress.

Thermally Conductive Pads or Gap Filler Pads

Conductive pads provide electrical insulation and thermal conductivity through hairlike fibers that act as insulators on silicon surfaces.

They may also contain a filler material such as silicone resin or ceramic powder for better compressibility overall.

These are low-cost options with low strength bonding capabilities that only work on flat surfaces​​ when used alone—but if your components fit together easily without requiring additional force from mechanical fasteners such as screws or rivets, then this may be your best bet!

Thermal Compounds

There are two main types of thermal compounds:

  1. Carbon-based compounds
  2. Metal-oxide compounds.

Carbon compounds use a mixture of graphite particles and silicone oil to conduct heat. In contrast, metal-oxide compounds use a combination of metal oxides like aluminum oxide or silver.

Metal-oxide components are considered more effective at conducting heat than carbon-based ones, so it’s recommended that you use one if possible. Most modern computers are designed to tolerate the additional stress on the processor (and fan) required by these materials.

Still, they can be more challenging to apply than carbon compounds because they have a short lifespan (i.e., after some time has passed, they will no longer work), so make sure your computer is compatible before using them!

Metal-oxide thermal pastes offer several advantages over conventional greases in addition to improved performance:

  • They’re non-toxic (unlike most greases).
  • They won’t damage your system as easily if spilled accidentally on other parts (unlike oils).
  • They cost significantly less per gram than their counterparts from other brands at the same viscosity level. For example, Arctic Silver 5 costs about $12 for 3 grams vs. Arctic MX4’s $6 for 4 grams.

The Lifespan of Thermal Pastes

Thermal paste lasts for a long time. Generally speaking, thermal pastes based on silicone last about five years, while those based on metals last about 10.

It’s not clear why materials like silver or diamond are less likely to break down over time than silicone.


In conclusion, thermal paste is an essential substance. It is used to achieve better heat transfer between the CPU and heatsink.

The thermal paste helps keep your machine healthy and cool even under extreme conditions.

There are many different types of thermal pastes available on the market, but they all do essentially the same thing.

Some are fancier than others, but the amount of difference is usually negligible for casual users. It’s much more important to replace thermal paste when appropriate than to pick out the perfect product.

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