If you’re a computer enthusiast or a gamer, you know how important it is to keep your CPU cool. As such, thermal paste is an essential component for your gaming rig. In essence, a thermal paste fills the gaps between the CPU and its cooler. As a result, heat is pushed away from the processor and into the heatsink. While most coolers these days come with pre-applied thermal paste, it’s always better to have a high-quality thermal paste on hand for re-application whenever you clean your PC. However, with so many options to choose from, it can be a tedious task to find the best thermal paste for your CPU or GPU.
Fret not, for we are here. In this post, we will take a look at some of the best thermal pastes on the market. We’ll be highlighting various factors such as their thermal conductivity, ease of application, and more pros and cons. By the time you finish reading the article, you will be able to make an informed purchase decision to keep your processor cool.
But first, you might want to check out the following:
1. ARCTIC MX-4
- Electrically conductive: No | Quantity: 2g to 45g
- Operating Temperature: -50°C to 150°C
- Thermal Conductivity: 8.5 W/m.K
ARCTIC MX-4 is a popular thermal paste that’s widely used by computer enthusiasts and professionals alike. It’s known for its high thermal conductivity, ease of application, and long-lasting performance.
Designed to remain stable and effective for up to eight years, you won’t have to replace the ARCTIC MX-4 thermal paste often. Another benefit of the ARCTIC MX-4 is its ease of application. The paste is non-conductive, non-corrosive, and doesn’t require any curing time. What’s more, it comes in a syringe-style applicator that makes it easy to apply just the right amount of paste to your CPU or GPU.
One thing to note is that ARCTIC no longer communicates thermal conductivity values. The 8.5 W/m.K value mentioned here was reported by Toms Hardware. Since its launchMX-4 has been superseded by the MX-5 (discontinued) and the MX-6. However, the MX-6 only offers a 20% performance boost over the MX-4. As such, you’re better off getting more value for your money with the MX-4.
2. Cooler Master CryoFuze Violet
- Electrically conductive: No | Quantity: 2g
- Operating Temperature: -50°C to 240°C
- Thermal Conductivity: 12.6 W/m.K
While most thermal pastes are grey in color, the Cooler Master CryoFuze Violet comes in, as the name suggests, a violet color. But apart from the looks, the company’s thermal paste packs a punch too.
With a thermal conductivity of 12.6 W/m.K, the Cooler Master CryoFuze Violet can easily handle the most extreme builds out there. It comes with a spatula included in the box for easy application, and the performance is great as well.
At just 2g, you won’t get a lot of thermal paste for the price. However, as Pokde noted in their review, the CryoFuze Violet offers similar performance to the higher-priced Cooler Master MasterGel. As such, if you’re looking for a fashionable and performance-focused thermal paste without having to break the bank, the CryoFuze Violet is a great option.
3. Noctua NT-H2
- Electrically conductive: No | Quantity: 3.5g to 10g
- Operating Temperature: -50°C to 200°C
- Thermal Conductivity: Unspecified
Noctua needs no introduction in the PC space and the company has a host of devices that are designed to keep your PC running cool. While they’re most famous for air coolers, the company also makes excellent thermal pastes. Case in point, the Noctua NT-H2, which is a terrific thermal paste for most systems.
While the company does not officially disclose the thermal conductivity of the NT-H2, it is said to be better than the 8.9 W/mK offered by the Noctua NT-H1. Similar to its predecessor, the NT-H2 is non-conductive and non-corroding. As such, it drastically reduces the risk of short circuits and allows the paste to be used on heatsinks made from copper or aluminum. In fact, it is even safe to use with nickel-plated coolers.
Moreover, unlike the NT-H1, the newer Noctua NT-H2 is also available in a larger 10g tube. As such, you can get more performance while also saving a buck. Speaking of performance, the Noctua NT-H2 thermal paste is one of the most consistent performers, and the unit keeps temps at bay even under heavy loads. However, if you plan to overclock your CPU, the next option on this list might appeal to you more.
4. Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut
- Electrically conductive: No | Quantity: 1g to 37g
- Operating Temperature: -250°C to 350°C
- Thermal Conductivity: 12.5 W/m.K
Designed primarily for the overclocking community, the Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut thermal paste is the go-to choice for PC enthusiasts. While its cost-per-gram is among the highest in the biz, it has amassed over 43,000 reviews with an average of 4.8 stars on Amazon thanks to its stellar performance.
The Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut is a premium thermal paste that’s designed for high-performance CPUs and GPUs. It’s known for its exceptional thermal conductivity and long-lasting performance. At 12.5 W/mK and a peak operating temperature of 350°C, the Kryonaut can easily tame CPUs that generate a lot of heat.
Most consumers can get by using any of the above-mentioned thermal pastes for normal loads. However, if you do plan to overclock your CPU or GPU, the Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut is the best thermal paste money can buy. While it’s a bit more expensive than some other options, its high performance and long lifespan make it a worthwhile investment for serious computer enthusiasts.
It’s only thwarted by the Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut. However, do keep in mind that the Conductonaut is a liquid metal, which is a different league altogether.
5. Corsair XTM50
- Electrically conductive: No | Quantity: 5g
- Operating Temperature: Unspecified
- Thermal Conductivity: 5.5 W/m.K
Corsair makes excellent air and water coolers for computers, and all of them come with thermal paste pre-applied to them. However, for folks who are new to applying thermal pastes on their CPUs, the XTM50 is a solid recommendation. The same can be attributed to its excellent application process.
In terms of performance, the Corsair XTM50 performs similarly to most thermal pastes out there. With a thermal conductivity of ~5.5 W/m.K, it’s adequate for most CPUs and GPUs and performs better than the standard OEM thermal paste. It also comes with a low-viscosity formula, which means it’s easy to apply and spreads evenly.
While the XTM50’s performance is great, the thermal paste’s application process remains the star of the show. To that end, the package includes an application stencil and spreader which takes the guesswork out of applying XTM50 to your CPU cooler. For its price, it’s definitely not the best performer out there. Be that as it may, the XTM50 is a great entry-level thermal paste for the masses.
6. Prolimatech Pk-3
- Electrically conductive: No | Quantity: 1.5g to 30g
- Operating Temperature: Unspecified
- Thermal Conductivity: 11.2 W/m.K
Per most benchmarks, the Noctua NT-H2 and the Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut rank at the highest spots. However, the Prolimatech Pk-3 isn’t far behind. Additionally, it has a higher viscosity, which makes it thicker compared to its competitors.
One of the most common complaints against some thermal pastes is that they’re quite runny. As such, if you own a laptop, it can be quite risky to have a thermal paste that pumps out under heavy loads. Thankfully, that’s not the case with the Prolimatech Pk-3. As highlighted by reviews on Reddit, the Prolimatech Pk-3 is a great thermal paste for high-performance laptops.
Another great feature of the Prolimatech Pk-3 is that it requires no burn-in time. As such, you can expect optimal performance immediately after its application. It’s definitely a premium offering, especially when there are better performers out there. However, if you do own a laptop and are constantly on the move, the Prolimatech Pk-3 proves to be a better option.
FAQs on Best Thermal Pastes for CPU
In general, it is recommended to replace thermal paste every 1-2 years to ensure optimal heat transfer between the CPU and its cooler. Over time, the thermal paste can dry out, become less effective, and lose its ability to transfer heat efficiently. However, if you notice that your CPU temperatures are higher than usual or if you’re experiencing performance issues, it may be worth checking your thermal paste and replacing it if necessary.
As far as thermal conductivity is concerned, liquid metal has a thermal conductivity of around 70-80 W/mK. This puts it a notch above even the best CPU thermal pastes as it offers better performance. However, liquid metal is electrically conductive. As such, it can cause short circuits if it comes into contact with other components on the motherboard.
The ideal amount of thermal paste to use depends on the size of your CPU and the type of cooler you’re using. In general, a pea-sized amount of thermal paste is sufficient for most CPUs. This amount is typically enough to cover the entire surface of the CPU without applying too much.
When you first apply thermal paste to your CPU or GPU, it may take some time for it to spread evenly and for any air bubbles to dissipate. This period is referred to as the burn-in time.
Yes, most thermal pastes mentioned on this list can be used to replace the thermal paste on your PS4’s CPU and GPU. However, it is worth highlighting that opening your PS4 and performing any repairs or modifications can void your warranty.
Keep Your CPU Cool
Choosing the right thermal paste for your CPU can make a significant difference in its performance and lifespan. We’ve discussed some of the best thermal pastes available, including their unique features. When choosing a thermal paste, keep in mind factors like thermal conductivity, viscosity, and ease of application. Ultimately, the best thermal paste for your CPU depends on your needs and preferences.
Last updated on 31 May, 2023
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