Thermal paste is essential for proper temperature regulation of the processor. If this component works inefficiently, the CPU will overheat despite the activity of the cooler. To avoid negative consequences, you need to choose the right thermal paste. We have collected proven options that fit different configurations and scenarios for using a PC.
What to look for when choosing thermal paste?
The allowed processor temperature is 40-55 degrees. With an increase in the load, it can increase to 55-65 degrees. The use of thermal paste can reduce the value by 10-20 degrees. Success depends on the properties of the paste and the activity of the cooler. To get the most out of it, it is important to find the right paste.
Here are a few properties to look out for when choosing.
One of the main indicators is the thermal conductivity of the paste. This is the ability of a substance to transfer heat from hot elements to cold ones. Simply put, the higher the thermal conductivity, the more efficiently the heatsink takes heat away from the processor.
Indicators are measured in W / mK (Watt / meter per Kelvin). The standard value is 3-10 units. For professional thermal pastes based on liquid metal, the indicators can reach 75-80 W / mK.
The range of temperatures at which the thermal paste retains its properties usually ranges from -50 to +150 degrees Celsius. There are substances with a wider range, but they are usually used for industrial purposes. Users are less interested in the lower bound because it is practically unattainable. But the maximum value often becomes very important – especially when overclocking the processor. If you do not plan to overclock the chip, then you can ignore this indicator of thermal paste.
Packaging and equipment
To cover one processor, on average, 1-2 g of paste is required. Therefore, it is important to choose thermal grease with convenient packaging. The best option is a syringe with a screw cap. It is convenient for them to apply and dispense the substance. After use, you can seal the syringe tightly by shutting off the air movement.
Thermal paste inside the syringe
The usual packaging of thermal paste is a syringe with a cap
A plastic spatula is also used for comfortable application of thermal paste. Most often it comes with a syringe. For expensive pastes, the equipment can be much richer: cotton swabs, degreasing napkins.
The standard shelf life of thermal paste is 3-4 years. The manufacturing date is usually indicated on the packaging. It is not recommended to use the substance after the expiration date. Even if the exterior of the thermal paste appears to be suitable for use, its chemical properties may have changed.
Another important point is the reuse of one tube. The substance is usually supplied in a syringe that is noticeably larger than that required to cover a single processor. Thermal paste can be stored after opening the tube, but only in a sealed package. It dries up in the air.
Based on the above indicators, it becomes clear what to look for when buying thermal paste for overclocking. Another important parameter is the manufacturer. Several companies have proven themselves well on the market:
Arctic Cooling (Romania);
Zalman (South Korea);
Thermal Grizzly (Germany);
Of course, there are other quality brands, but we consider these to be the best.
Highest quality thermal paste for processors
This list represents the manufacturers we recommend to prioritize.
Deepcool manufactures coolers of various levels and makes thermal grease, which can be found bundled with some cooling systems. Its low price, combined with good performance, provides a stable interest among buyers.
Deepcool Z9 is a decent budget grade paste.
Deepcool Z9 is supplied as a pre-filled 3 g syringe. Suitable for home and office computers as well as mid-range notebooks. According to the manufacturers, the thermal paste can withstand temperatures up to 200 degrees. However, this advantage is practically devalued by low thermal conductivity – 4 W / mK. With such parameters, overclocking will require a lot of coolers and fans to keep the processor from overheating.
Special spatula for applying paste.
Good heat dissipation rates – up to 6-8 degrees.
The maximum temperature is 200 degrees.
It takes a long time to dry on the processor.
Not suitable for overclocking due to low thermal conductivity.
Zalman ZM-STG2 is one of the best thermal greases on the market. It is produced by Zalman, known for its coolers. The set with cooling systems of the middle price segment is supplemented with just ZM-STG paste in a 3.5 g syringe.
Zalman ZM-STG2 can even be used for minimal overclocking
Depending on the cooler, the Zalman ZM-STG2 can provide a temperature drop of 10-15 degrees. Thermal conductivity – 4.1 W / mK. The limiting temperature after which the paste changes its consistency is 150 degrees. This limit allows you to use Zalman ZM-STG2 for minimal processor overclocking. The main thing is not to get carried away too much – after all, this is a budget thermal paste.
Long-term preservation of properties.
Effective temperature reduction.
Thick consistency that is difficult to apply to the processor.
No paste application tools included.
Glacialtech IceTherm II
Glacialtech IceTherm II thermal paste is suitable for laptops and gaming PCs without overclocking. Supplied as a 1.5 g syringe. This is enough for one application, maximum two. The syringe is screwed on with a cap, which allows it to retain its properties for some time after opening. The kit also includes a spatula for applying the paste.
Glacialtech IceTherm II – Inexpensive Solution for Powerful Computers
The nominal thermal conductivity of Glacialtech IceTherm II is 8.1 W / mK, but in reality the value is slightly lower. Nevertheless, thermal paste is able to lower the processor temperature by 10-15 degrees, depending on the activity of the cooler. Cooling down takes a few minutes. The maximum temperature is only 100 degrees. You cannot use it for overclocking.
High thermal conductivity, which lasts for a long time.
Does not delaminate even on chips with high temperatures – for example, on video cards.
Convenient to work consistency – liquid enough to apply and not liquid enough to spread.
Low operating temperature.
Inconsistency of thermal conductivity with the declared level.
High cost, considering all the main indicators.
Arctic Cooling MX-4
Arctic Cooling MX-4 Thermal Grease comes in two flavors – a small 4g syringe for personal use or a large 20g syringe for service centers or professionals who regularly assemble and maintain a PC. Unfortunately, in neither case, there are no tools for applying the paste.
Arctic Cooling MX-4 Thermal Paste
With Arctic Cooling MX-4 silicon paste, you eliminate the risk of short circuits
Arctic Cooling MX-4 is designed for computers with a powerful cooling system. In the presence of a powerful cooler, the paste allows you to maintain the temperature at 40-50 degrees, even in multi-core gaming and overclocked chips. High thermal conductivity – 8.5 W / mK. The consistency is almost perfect, medium in density, not viscous. The upper temperature limit is 150-160 degrees.
Ceramic paste eliminating the risk of short circuits.
Excellent thermal conductivity.
Various packaging options.
Optimum viscosity for application and removal.
Suitable for overclocking the processor.
Relatively high cost.
Poor kit – no tools to apply or remove.
Not suitable for chips that constantly operate at high temperatures, such as video cards.
Loses properties and delaminates during thermal loads.
Thermal grease Noctua NT-H1 was developed by scientists at an Austrian university studying heat transfer. Often supplied with Noctua coolers, but sold separately. The paste is inside a 3.5 g syringe with a screw cap that prevents drying out during long-term storage.
Noctua NT-H1 is suitable for powerful but overclocked processors
Noctua NT-H1 is suitable for home and office computers, as well as gaming machines with non-overclocked processors. The paste has a rather thick consistency, however, due to its good stickiness, it is convenient to apply it in thin layers. Thermal conductivity – 4.5 W / mK. The maximum temperature is 110 degrees.
Convenient consistency for application.
Good equipment: application spatula, packing with screw cap.
Long-term preservation of heat-conducting properties.
Low peak operating temperature – up to 110 degrees.
Low recommended operating temperature – up to 90 degrees.
Average values of thermal conductivity.
Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut
Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut is a traditional thermal grease formulated with metal particles and silicone oils. However, during the development of the substance, a special composition is used, which provides high thermal conductivity – 12.5 W / mK, as well as durability.
Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut Thermal Paste
Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut has one of the highest thermal conductivity values among non-professional thermal interfaces
Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut is suitable for gaming computers, including machines with an overclocked processor and liquid cooling, for video cards and high-performance laptops. Thermal grease is supplied in syringes with a volume of 1 or 5 g. In both cases, the kit includes a paddle for distributing the substance through the processor.
High thermal conductivity. The best result among metal-silicone thermal interfaces.
Easy application and removal.
Suitable for overclocked processors and video cards.
Provides significant and rapid temperature drop.
Retains thermal and performance characteristics even several years after use.
Dries quickly when exposed to air.
Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut
Conductonaut is a flagship paste from the German company Thermal Grizzly. It is in great demand among users who are overclocking the processor. Supplied in a syringe with a volume of 5 g. The set includes a special nozzle, cotton swabs, napkins for surface degreasing and documentation.
Thermal Paste Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut
Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut – professional paste based on liquid metal
Thermal conductivity of Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut – 73 W / mK. When applied, the product adheres perfectly to the surface, and after warming up, a minimum layer remains. Taking into account the peculiarities of the cooler, the substance is able to lower the temperature by 10-15 degrees. All this makes thermal paste one of the best solutions for overclocking a processor and video card.
Excellent thermal conductivity.
Leaving a minimum layer after heating.
High current conductivity.
Aggressive to aluminum, can only be used with copper base radiators.
Coollaboratory Liquid PRO
Coollaboratory Liquid PRO is a professional liquid metal based thermal paste. Supplied in a 1 g syringe. The kit also includes special cotton swabs and a sponge for applying the substance. Suitable for users who are engaged in extreme overclocking of components.
Coollaboratory Liquid PRO Thermal Paste
Coollaboratory Liquid PRO – highest thermal conductivity thermal paste
The thermal paste is manufactured without the use of particulate matter and silicone oils, thus offering the highest possible thermal conductivity of 82 W / mK, as well as maximum durability. Even with constant exposure to high temperatures, the Coollaboratory Liquid PRO retains its operational properties, so it can be used in productive laptops, video cards, overclocked processors with liquid cooling systems.
Highest possible thermal conductivity.
Excellent equipment, which includes all the necessary tools for high-quality paste application.
Long-term preservation of thermal and operational properties.
Difficult application procedure.
Reacts with aluminum, therefore it is only suitable for radiators with a copper plate at the base.
High electrical conductivity.
When choosing thermal paste, it is important to understand the usage scenarios and computer configuration. If you are looking for a thermal paste for a home or office machine that works in standard mode and does not undergo any overclocking, then you can get by with a budget paste. The best examples are Deepcool Z9, Zalman ZM-STG2, Glacialtech IceTherm II .
In the middle price segment, there are pastes that are suitable for gaming computers and high-performance laptops, as well as for minimal processor overclocking. If you are interested in trying to squeeze a little more power out of the chip, then choose Arctic Cooling MX-4 thermal paste or Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut. If you are not going to overclock components, but just want reliable protection for your gaming PC, then the Noctua NT-H1 is an excellent solution.
The upper price segment is liquid metal based substances. They offer several times higher thermal conductivity than classic thermal pastes. Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut and Coollaboratory Liquid PRO are ideal solutions for users looking for extreme CPU and GPU overclocking. However, they can only be used in conjunction with radiators whose base is made of copper. With aluminum, the liquid metal enters into a chemical reaction, disabling the equipment.