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The best thermal paste for your computer in 2022

Heat management is quite a daunting task, especially for users with powerful processors. Your CPU and GPU produce a lot of heat every time you use them. You’ll need to use the best thermal pastes to dissipate this heat. An excellent thermal paste will fill the gaps between your CPU and its cooler and reduce the heat build-up.

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We understand that choosing a suitable paste from the hundreds on the market could be confusing. Plus, you really do not want to test all those various products on your precious system. So let’s get to the best thermal pastes on the markets.

The best thermal paste product to buy

Arctic Silver 5

Arctic Silver 5

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Pros

  • Made with 99.9% pure silver
  • High conductivity rating of 8.9W/mK
  • Easy to apply and gives a high thermal performance
  • It covers a large surface area
  • Not electrically conductive and has high stability when smeared

Cons

  • It gives a little temperature difference after the curing phase.

The Arctic Silver 5 AS5-3.5G thermal paste is a unique, high-density, thermally conductive compound. Arctic Silver is one of the most famous manufacturers in the thermal paste industry. They boast that the Arctic Silver 5 product uses three unique shapes and sizes of pure silver particles to maximize particle-to-particle contact area and thermal transfer.

With sub-micron zinc oxide, aluminum oxide, and boron nitride particles, you can rest assured that this product will give you the high performance and long stability you wish. Its low viscosity provides perfect physical contact between the heat sink and the integrated heat spreader.

In addition, Arctic Silver 5 is relatively safer to apply because it is not electrically conductive. That said, we advise you to apply this particular thermal paste cautiously, especially if you are a newbie.

Arctic Silver 5 AS5-3.5G Thermal Paste List Price:$7.90 Price:$5.99 You Save:$1.91 (24%) Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission

Cooler Master Mastergel Pro v2

Cooler Master Mastergel Pro v2

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Pros

  • Upgraded compound for better heat dissipation
  • High CPU/GPU conductivity (9 W/mK)
  • Improves heat transfer from chipset to cooler base or heat pipes
  • Easy to spread and remove without damaging the surface

Cons

  • Relatively costly per gram cost

The Cooler Master Mastergel uses an outstanding compound formula for exceptional thermal conductivity. Although Cooler Master may not be as popular as some of the listed manufacturers here, they know what they are doing! MasterGel Pro v2 is one great thermal compound and relatively easy to apply, given its thick consistency.

It features an upgraded compound compared to its old version. It’s very easy to spread and it provides better heat dissipation. The heat transfer is improved and the thermal grease has been adjusted to match your performance needs.

Cooler Master MasterGel Pro V2 High Performance Thermal Compound with High CPU/GPU Conductivity… List Price:$16.68 Price:$14.99 You Save:$1.69 (10%) Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission

Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut

Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut

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Pros

  • High performance with a high degree of efficiency
  • Great thermal conductivity
  • Suitable for extreme overclocking

Cons

  • Highly electrically conductive
  • Not easy to install
  • Quite expensive

The Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut is currently one of the best liquid metal thermal pastes on the market today. It has a thin, runny consistency that you can control if drops are in excess with its special extraction tip. It has excellent thermal conductivity and long stability for prolonged usage.

We advise you exercise the most extreme form of caution while using this product if you are not an expert with it. Even its website says it is for “experienced users” and not amateurs or newbies. Do not use this product on aluminum surfaces or components. You do not want to cause irreparable damages to your CPU/GPU.

Overall, you can use this paste with computers, laptop devices, and even game consoles for effective heat dissipation.

Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut - Aluminum, Thermal Paste Based on Liquid Metal - Not Suitable for… Price:$37.95 Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission

Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut

Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut

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Pros

  • Non-electrically conductive
  • Comes with spatula for spreading
  • Extremely high thermal conductivity
  • High-performance rating
  • It is a readily available product and a popular choice for many

Cons

  • It is expensive per gram, compared to competitors

The Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut is another exceptional CPU thermal paste from Thermal Grizzly. Because of its mildly viscous formula, the kryonaut thermal paste is easy to install while eliminating the chances of running over. It also has a very high thermal conductivity, and many gamers prefer it.

It is a bit pricey, but it does work very well. This has a high performance rating that is recognized by most who use it.

Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut The High Performance Thermal Paste for Cooling All Processors, Graphic… List Price:$25.99 Price:$24.29 You Save:$1.70 (7%) Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission

Corsair XTM50 High-Performance thermal solution

Corsair XTM50 thermal solution

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Pros

  • Low viscosity.
  • High performance.
  • It is easy to install on the CPU heat spreader.
  • Premium Zinc-based thermal conductivity.
  • Improved CPU cooler with ultra-low thermal impedance

Cons

  • No other size is available

The Corsair XTM50 high-performance thermal compound comes with an application stencil and spreader to help you accurately smear the paste on your CPU cooler. Its ultra-low thermal impedance makes it exceptionally good for conducting heat and cooling systems. It gives high-duration stability and is not toxic for you or your motherboard.

Unfortunately, the Corsair XTM50 is only available in one size, which doesn’t give room for other choices. But its low viscosity and the fact that it comes with a CPU stencil make this perhaps the easiest thermal paste to install.

Corsair XTM50 High Performance Thermal Compound Paste | Ultra-Low Thermal Impedance CPU/GPU | 5… Price:$14.99 Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission

Noctua NT-H1 Thermal Paste

Noctua NT-H1 Thermal Paste

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Pros

  • Not electrically conductive
  • Non-corroding thermal grease
  • Excellent long-term stability
  • Easy to Install
  • Optimal heat-transfer

Cons

  • It doesn’t come with a spatula

The Noctua NT-H1 is mostly targeted at users who crave high-performance cooling abilities and maximum noise reduction. Noctua NT-H1 is one of the best currently because it is thicker than several other solutions and has a sub-zero cooling effect on compressors. This also means that this solution can be used for extremely high overclocking speeds.

With various sizes to select from, you will have an optimum thermal application process.

Noctua NT-H1 3.5g, Pro-Grade Thermal Compound Paste (3.5g) Price:$8.93 Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission

What is a thermal paste, and why is it so important?

Image source: Vladyslav / Adobe

A thermal paste, grease, or compound acts as a transfer agent. It bridges the gap between your processor and the cooler. With air gaps eliminated, your processor runs cool because heat transfer is seamless between the processor and the CPU’s heat spreader. It would interest you to know that this simple act could significantly improve your processor’s performance!

How does thermal paste really work?

Image source: Olya / Adobe

Your electronic device generates heat every time you use it. This generated heat depends on several factors, especially if you run intensive tasks on your device. Majorly it depends on frequent usage of the device, the resistance of current flow, or thermal design power.

A build-up of this heat on your processor will cause your CPU’s in-built protector to shut it down before any real damage occurs. Your CPU architecture has the heat sinks and CPU coolers closely fitted. This closeness has a tiny space that causes air to be trapped in between. The trapped air then congests as you use your device and it’s filled with hot air.

Since there is no medium to transfer the air out, the trapped air overheats the processor. This is where thermal paste steps in. It fills up the microscopic air gap and transfer heat from the component generating it to the next component that gets rid of the heat.

Types of thermal paste

The type of thermal paste you use on your computer should depend on your level of competence and the computer involved.

There are two classifications of thermal pastes: electrically conductive and non-conductive. The conductive types are largely believed to perform better than the other class. However, a little drop/spill of these types of thermal paste on the wrong areas can damage your motherboard. Even worse, you could experience a short circuit that fries your board. Hence, professionals must handle the conductive thermal pastes with extreme care. The electrically conductive types may include liquid metal thermal compounds like silver, copper, and aluminum-based greases.

Non-professionals or users who are not sure they can accurately smear the thermal paste on required areas should probably go for non-conductive types. Some example of non-conductive type pastes are ceramic pastes, silicone pastes and zinc pastes. These non-conductive types equally have high thermal conductivity. They tend to be in the form of a thick paste that can be smeared on any surface. You don’t have to be as meticulous as you would if using the liquid metal compound, but try to do a neat job.

Again, avoid liquid metal pastes if you do not have cogent knowledge of liquid pastes.

Factors to look out for when choosing the best thermal pastes

Thermal design power

The Thermal design power (TDP) is the maximum heat a PC will dissipate under any task. That means processors with higher thermal design power will give off more heat. This factor must be considered when choosing the best thermal paste to ensure that the product you opt for can withstand the heat generated. Navigate to your system information panel to know your processor’s TDP.

Thermal compound conductivity

Check for the best thermal conductivity rating if you intend to purchase the best thermal paste. A good thermal paste that is thermally conductive, provides more thermal insulation. This better safeguards your system from overheating. Every thermal paste has its own thermal conductivity properties that depict how efficiently it transfers heat from the processor to the heat sink.

That said, a product with high thermal conductivity is generally the better compound for heat sink application or heat conduction.

An unsuitable paste will increase your PC temperature and most probably damage your graphics card or processor. Alternatively, applying the best paste in its right quantity helps your system avoid overheating and overclocking.

Liquid metal compounds and non-metallic alternatives have different conductivity ratings. Liquid metal thermal compounds have 70W/mK (watts per square meter of the surface area). The non-liquid metal thermal pastes typically have between 4-10W/mK conductivity ratings.

Electrically conductive or non-conductive thermal pastes

When applying thermal paste to the required parts of your device, ensure that you exercise utter patience and care. Liquid metal compounds are mostly electrically conductive and are largely believed to provide better performance. But inexperienced DIY folks should go for a carbon-based thermal paste. It is not electrically conductive and still has excellent thermal conductivity.

Density and viscosity

When buying the right paste, ensure that you opt for one with the right density. A thermal paste with the right density will easily squeeze through and stay on the applied spot when other components are coupled back. Most times, you would find that a liquid thermal paste has a vastly lower density than other thermal pastes. But, applying a liquid metal paste is more tricky and requires extra care than usual paste.

Accidentally applying a liquid metal thermal paste outside the required area may make the components dysfunctional.

Further, note that pastes with higher viscosity are better for sticking the heat sink to the processor. They are thicker and tend to fit between components properly instead of leaking onto the motherboard like compounds with lower viscosity.

Best thermal compound vs. CPU cooler

Even after you purchase a premium thermal paste, your PC will never have a healthy temperature if the cooling variant is not competent. Ensure that the cooling option you use can take care of the heat generated from your processor. This is an important factor to note, irrespective of the quality of thermal grease used. You may use liquid-based coolers, but some enthusiasts prefer air coolers.

How much thermal paste should I use?

Replacing thermal paste on the processorImage source: H_Ko / Adobe

If you are using thick pastes, it is advised to squeeze just a pea-sized amount onto the CPU. When this is smeared, the paste will not spread too much over the edges of the CPU or onto the motherboard. For the tech enthusiasts or pros using the liquid metal thermal compound, apply a drop of the product on the middle surface of the CPU

How to apply thermal paste?

Replacing thermal paste on the processorImage source: yurchello108 / Adobe

Apply a pea-sized portion of the paste you want to the CPU’s surface without overdoing it by gently pushing the heat sink down on it. This would prevent spilling the paste over the integrated heat spreader.

Others prefer to spread the regular thermal paste around the CPU with a flat surface, similar to buttering toast. Whichever works for you, just know that this process requires patience and care to avoid damaging other components.

How long does a great thermal paste last?

Most manufacturers claim their products would still be effective even after three years of application. But, you should first consider the tube’s production date before buying it. Also, remember that the paste on may have been degraded from being stored on the shelf for a while. Therefore, we advise purchasing your own thermal paste from large stores that sell out fast.

FAQ

What makes a good thermal paste?

High thermal conductivity, low viscosity, and non-corrosivity are basic properties of a good thermal paste. Additionally, it must not be too thick or too runny. This will provide an even spread or reduce the probability of spilling onto the circuit board.

What does thermal paste do?

Thermal pastes ensure that your PC runs smoothly and at a cool temperature.

How much temperature drop should be expected when using aftermarket thermal paste

Some thermal paste products can help reduce your PC temperature by 2 to 3 degrees. Alternatively, more expensive options may give you a whopping 10 degrees reduction in temperature.

What is the right amount of thermal paste that one should apply?

A small blob or pea size at the center of your CPU’s surface should do the magic. Avoid using too much, as this may damage some components on your motherboard.

Is Kryonaut good for GPU?

Yes, it is. It is an excellent choice of heat conductivity for your GPU and CPU.

Which thermal paste is best for GPU?

The Noctua NT-H1 is perhaps the best choice in the market currently that can be used without any complaints about its specifications. It is a premium-grade thermal paste that is suitable for both CPU and GPU application.

Can I use toothpaste as a thermal paste?

While we advise against it, yes, you can. Toothpastes can work as alternative to other thermal paste products. But, it lacks long stability. Especially for systems that frequently run intense computational tasks.

More CPU coverage: Check out our picks for the best PC cooling fans.

Toby Grey contributes as a How To expert for BGR. Typing away like a keyboard super hero, he covers just about anything you can think of. If Toby isn't writing, he's probably reading a book or playing video games.